Fearless parents...a very special blog post from Sandy and Len Goodman
A very, very special post from Jen's parents, Sandy and Len Goodman:
Hey! It’s me. Hope you’re doing well!
Nature? Nurture? Was Jen born with exceptional innate traits or was it her exposure to a tremendous number of incredibly special people? Nevertheless, she was a determined woman from the minute of birth!
It was almost as if she had an urgent, preordained mission for her life. Jennifer was delivered within 5 minutes of arriving at Mountainside Hospital in Glen Ridge, NJ! Five minutes! With a zest for life and generous, thoughtful heart, she grew up appropriately challenging authority, relishing how she met exciting challenges, fiercely defending her friends, and always representing worthy causes. People seemed to be constantly charmed by her. She related to all ages and was as comfortable in a sandbox as she was in a corporate boardroom.
We beamed when 5 year old Jen raced her older brother’s friends and won! We giggled when she technically won the town’s track meet, but came in “second” because she did not want to ruin the pretty finish line ribbon! Then, there is the legendary baton toss flip at her fourth grade talent show. The routine called for a jazzy number to Last Dance, throwing that stick high into the air, making a quick 360, and catching the baton with a deep curtsy. After making a hole on our front lawn from the hundreds of times she dropped the baton, practicing and practicing for weeks, she never was successful with that final move. She easily could have altered that routine. Donna Summers would not have minded. (Ho Ho) BUT, in true Jen style, she went on stage and wowed the audience with that engaging smile and her spectacular twirling ending! SHE CAUGHT THE BATON! Again, we howled when she returned from fifth grade one day to announce that the music teacher was desperate for 2 drummers for the band, and turned to Jennifer and her friend, the gusto girls, to quickly work with him and fill this need for the school recital. Of course, Jen stepped up, and somehow pulled it off. Her brother Brett will not forget the weekend when we 3 had to deliver over 450 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for Jen, who won the troop prize, of course, for selling the most cookies, but who was laughing in bed with Chicken Pox and could not do the grunt work!
Jen: GUTS! CONFIDENCE! DETERMINATION! FEARLESSNESS! LAUGHTER!
ONCE, just once, we advocated for our daughter in high school because she was so frustrated that she was cut from an honor’s English class. “I would rather be the very bottom student in that class than be the top student in the next cohort.” Jen’s persona: placing and facing obstacles! As president of her high school Key Club, it was no surprise to us that Jennifer orchestrated a fundraiser to benefit Make a Wish, the likes of which the school had never seen before, delegating to 250 people (adults and kids) and raising over a whopping $20,000!
While at Duke we heard frequently how our daughter joined a program and became a big sister to a needy local teen. Endless hours for 3 years …. Back in New York City, Jen continued this role and befriended a junior high school student. Soon Eden became “family” and Jennifer and she enjoyed cultural entertainment, shopping, and spent quality time far beyond the program’s academic description. Jennifer even attended Eden’s school conferences and made certain she had a home computer and other school essentials.
With the cancer prognosis becoming more gloomy, Jen never asked, “Why me?” That would have been a waste of her energy. Instead she was determined to use her time left in a positive way, living life to its FULLEST and inspiring others to seize the day.
One of the best examples of Jen’s courage was just days before her passing. More than a thousand cancer survivors were scheduled to hear Jennifer’s keynote address in Long Island. Her medical condition was grave. Her legs were swollen to more than twice their normal size and dotted with huge oozing blisters. Her stomach made her appear in the last stages of a pregnancy, but this condition was caused by uncontrollably growing tumors. Horrible pain, partially managed by drugs, Jen was slow-moving, quiet, and realizing that the sedative nature of the drugs was threatening her concentration and articulation. Walking and climbing stairs was very labored. SHE WOULD NOT CANCEL THIS ENGAGEMENT! Somehow, she stood for over” 20 minutes, and spoke only as she could. From the car driving her home, she phoned and shared her pride with the standing ovation and described her motivational speech as good, but “not my A game.” Jen died 6 days later.
It is now up to all of us who were somehow touched by Jennifer to continue her mission. We can best honor her memory by continuing to build her “baby,” her legacy, Cycle for Survival. We urge you to initiate teams, spread the word, proactively become involved. Raise money so that the roots to this insidious disease are untangled and eradicated.
Jennifer was raised in the small town of Livingston, New Jersey. On February 11, 2012, her hometown is coming together and embracing her legacy, Cycle for Survival. This day of memory will be a great celebration of our daughter’s life. The satellite event has the support of the schools, the merchants, the police, the fire department, the politicians, and numerous organizations and clubs….cycling on over 100 spin bikes and supporting cancer lab research for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Sydney Becker, a 13 year old Livingston sarcoma survivor who was touched by Jen, will lead the teen spin.
One of Jen’s friends sent us a note, “Steve Jobs gave the world the IPAD. Jennifer Goodman Linn has given the world hope.” There is no greater epithet.
Jennifer Goodman Linn brought a light to our lives every single day. We fondly recall those 7 words that religiously began every one of her voice mails for years and years: “ Hey! It’s me. Hope you’re doing well.” Our extended family associate her name with frolic, her love for dancing, Barbi dolls, the gym, a contagious giggle, that incredible toothy smile; clothes and more clothes, laughter, BIG IDEAS, a work-ethic like none other, Duke basketball games, sunflowers; Gerber daisies; presents, the beach, jam-packed fun weekends, HER SKILLIONS OF FRIENDS, the July 4th egg toss games, brownie sundaes oozing with hot fudge, and her rock and treasure, David. While cancer robbed us of her physically, it has not taken her spirit, her memory, her legacy…which will live on forever. Love you, Jen.
We wish we could reach out personally to the hundreds and hundreds of people who have sent us warm, beautiful messages of condolence. Hopefully, if you see us, you will step up and introduce yourself. For now, from deep down in our hearts, a sincere … Thank You!
-Sandy & Len Goodman