Jennifer Ann Crofts
St. Lazare QC
Jennifer, or Niffer, as she was known by her friends, was born in Montreal, QC and grew up in St. Lazare.
Jennifer was one of the most outgoing people I ever knew, able to connect with folks of all ages and capabilities, but she was particularly drawn to working with children. She loved working in camps, lifeguarding at different pools, teaching kids to swim and working with autistic children in special academic programs. Jennifer knew how to encourage others and her enthusiasm with everyone’s successes and achievements was contagious. She was always surrounded by people just wanting to be with her.
Her friends all appreciated how loyal she was to them and they could always count on her to be the life of the party. Her sense of humour, laughter and her dancing were the highlights of any get together. Likewise, her friends could always count on her for advice. Jennifer was both a good listener and wise beyond her years. She was incredibly bright and had all kinds of facts and figures at the ready.
As outgoing and vivacious as she was, Jennifer also had a more quiet and introspective side. She was very artistic and expressed herself through beautiful paintings. Her imagination and creativity were inspiring.
On 27 August 2014, Jennifer went to the hospital for surgery to unblock a problematic tear duct. A few other solutions had been tried unsuccessfully and it was decided the surgery was the best option. When she was in recovery, the doctor told her he had found cancer – a totally unexpected outcome. And thus began her journey with NK-T Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
The chemotherapy and the radiation were tough on her, but she never complained. She soldiered through, intent on getting back her health and going back to work. She even asked me to shave off her beautiful thick blond hair that she was so proud of when she started losing it to the chemo. That was a very hard thing for both of us.
Jennifer got a short three-month remission before the cancer returned, this time with a real vengeance. We almost lost her a few times. It was determined that her only real chance would be a stem cell transplant, for which her sister was a perfect match. We spent the next few months planning and getting ready for that. Unfortunately, Jennifer never made it to the stem cell transplant. She left us a mere 363 days after she was first diagnosed.
There are no words that can fully express the loss of a child. Jennifer enriched all our lives. I have thought of Jennifer every single day since she left. Her friends still celebrate her – and that, I think, is a testament to how much she meant and gave to everyone during her short time with us. Yes, Jennifer died, but more importantly, Jennifer lived. It is her living we remember. She lived life to the fullest and to the very best she could.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society was there for us when we needed them. Their support and compassion has meant the world to us. I know that Jennifer is looking down on us all with pride – pride that she can somehow continue to make a difference with LLS, and honoured at being this year’s Remembered Hero. In this vein, I wrote an entertaining book on my exploits living in Mali for three years – Tales of Two Toubabs in Mali (A Beginner’s Guide to Adventures in Mali) – with all proceeds going to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The book is available at Lulu.com
Thank you for reading Jennifer’s story and thank you for your continued support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. May Jennifer’s light shine on.