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Monday, April 02, 2012

By Alissa Butterfass

This past week, I was inspired by someone I don’t know, never met, and never even heard of until Wednesday. A friend of mine posted on Facebook a link to an article about a friend of hers who worked with a well-known beauty company to launch a limited edition nail polish color in memory of her friend Jennifer Goodman Linn, who passed away from cancer last summer. I saw the Facebook post, clicked the link to Jennifer’s blog and began to read the story. And, I couldn’t stop reading.

For over six years Jennifer battled against cancer—and I mean battled, waged war, did everything she could to help herself and others survive. In 2007 Jennifer and her husband started an annual fundraising event that has since gone national and has raised millions to fund research on the so-called “orphan cancers” that strike fewer people and thus are less likely to be researched. We are talking about a powerhouse woman. In an e-mail to me, her friend Alicia called Jennifer “superhumanly awesome.”

What struck me was story after story about Jennifer’s positive attitude, love of life and indomitable spirit—even as she underwent treatment after treatment after treatment. In fact, Jennifer’s philosophy of life was to “live fearless” and her blog/website is www.youfearless.com. I read post after post about Jennifer’s smile, her way of connecting with people and most especially, her love of dancing—with a link to a video of her “Happy to be 40” dance that especially hit home with me as my 40th approaches in just two months. (Note: Jennifer started the blog a few years ago and since her death it has been maintained and updated by one of her childhood friends.)

What a legacy this woman Jennifer Goodman Linn leaves behind. Beyond the many people she personally met and befriended, her efforts will impact, and potentially help heal, so many who so need it.

It’s easy to complain that we’re tired, that we’re overworked and overscheduled. We have too much on our plates and not enough time to do it all. Well, it’s time for me to stop the complaints and excuses. I aspire to live a life like Jennifer. A life remembered for a positive attitude and shining smile even in the toughest of circumstances. A life remembered for reaching out to help others. A life where I make a difference not just to my immediate family, but also to my friends, my community and beyond.

I’m not there yet—not by a long shot. But, I hope I can start moving in that direction. Whether it's writing for ACHA and connecting with my fellow CHD survivors, leading my local young women’s chapter of Hadassah (a Jewish women’s charitable organization), volunteering at my children’s school, or donating money to support my favorite causes, giving of my time, my money, and my experience to help others is so gratifying and personally satisfying. And, after reading about Jennifer—her life and her life’s work—I am thinking about how I can do that on a bigger and more impactful scale. I haven’t figured it out yet. It may take a while and it may never reach the level of influence that Jennifer did, but it’s certainly something on my mind and a personal goal to strive for.


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