She inspired many with her refusal to give up and her passion for life, so it is with great sadness that FOX 9 News reports the death of a local breast cancer advocate whose battle launched a popular bike ride fundraiser to combat the disease.
Jen Anderson was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006. Two years ago, it had spread to every bone in her body. She was fortunate just to be alive, but she never let it stop her.
"Giving up is so easy," Anderson told FOX 9 News. "It's the choosing to fight every day that is the real challenge."
Anderson often inspired others with her candor and honesty.
"Going through chemo is a b-----," she said, frankly.
As a motivational speaker talking with cancer survivors and school groups, Anderson raised tens of thousands of dollars to help find a cure. Her diagnosis also prompted a friend to launch the now 5-year-old Hartford and Re/max Results Breast Cancer Ride from Eagan to the Treasure Island Resort and Casino.
"She lived life completely to the fullest," said Kari Mitchell, who began that bike ride. "She contributed to society and did things to raise money and help people."
She also inspired others with her actions. In spite of her condition, she walked 60 miles in three days.
"She wouldn't give up," said J.R. Anderson, Jen's husband. "So tough, so strong."
Jen Anderson had no illusions about the possibility that cancer could cause her death down the line, but she never let that change her can-do attitude.
"One day, cancer may actually take my body, but I absolutely refuse to give it my life," she said. "That's mine."
This past week, her cancer did just that and she died at the age of 46.
"We're all so proud of Jen and everything she did, how hard she fought," her husband told FOX 9 News. "Almost six years of fighting."
Even though she has passed, her daughter, Stephanie, insists that the war against cancer will continue to be waged with her mother's favorite Pittsburg Steelers jersey.
"She wore it the day she went in for her double mastectomy, wore it through all of her fights," Stephanie Anderson said.
The Anderson family told FOX 9 News they hope to participate in the three-day Susan G. Komen walk two weeks from now in the Twin Cities in her honor.
"It definitely makes me think about how I am living my life and the adventures I take, the things I am accomplishing and hoping to pass on to my kids," said Nicky Thompson, another of Anderson's daughters.
Details about visitation and funeral services can be found below.
Visitation set for Wednesday, Aug. 15, 4-7:30 p.m
Washburn-McReavy Eden Prairie Chapel
7625 Mitchell Road - Eden Prairie, MN 55347
Funeral Service set for Thursday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m.
Christ Presbyterian Church
6901 Normandale Road, Edina, MN