My best friend Jen is 31, and was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma Multiforme in February 2013, when, in a matter of three weeks the lives of everyone who knew and loved Jen were dramatically affected in the worst possible way. After suffering terrible, nauseating headaches and lethargy for just over two weeks, Jen was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with a brain tumor after an MRI. She had the best outlook – “It’s bittersweet,” she told me, “because I couldn’t go on living that way.” A brain tumor, bittersweet, I thought. But she just had the most positive outlook on things and never once let her fear overtake her faith. Then the Saturday after her diagnosis I got the call – she was admitted to the hospital late the night before and doctors had to do an emergency procedure to release some of the fluid that had begun accumulating on her brain. She was in a coma. Doctors were telling us to prepare for the worst. I drove to Omaha where she lives and surgery was done the next day – doctors said they shouldn’t wait. We almost lost her twice within those two days – but by the grace of God she pulled through.
A couple days later she was talking again – even laughing a little. Next came agonizing and tedious occupational, physical and speech therapies at a rehabilitation facility. Two weeks later she had her old laugh back and was talking and walking like normal. After weeks of radiation and courses of chemo, Jen is back to her old, vivacious self. Aside from the scar and her short hair (which she finds ways to style expertly!), you would never know the ordeal she went through. She has traveled the globe since her diagnosis – China, Mexico, California – and has plans for many more trips. She has joined the Catholic faith and renewed her purpose in life, as well as renewed the faith of everyone around her. She is a testament to the power of prayer and we have faith God has kept her here for a reason.
She is truly an inspiration to everyone who meets her and I am so very very proud to call her my friend, and the Godmother to my son. While I know there are others who deserve this award, she is the epitome of strength, determination and life.
Jennifer Rudd passed away on September 21, 2014.