Photographers woke up this morning to hear that Jen Burgess Thompson passed away peacefully this morning. Jen was courageous enough to share her battle with the community over the last year as we all grew to love her. Jessica Person said it best this morning, "...the photography world watched a courageous photographer, woman and mother battle cancer. She was victorious. She didn't lose her battle with cancer this morning, she sailed into victory."
Some of her dear friends including Kevin Kubota, Benjamin Edwards and many others helped to document Jen's journey and were there by her side continually assisting in the fight. I was introduced to Jen through one of her big supporters, Joel Meisels, who shared Jen's story with many in the photography community. As we remember the life of Jen today, let us all recommit ourselves to using our talent and skills to help raise awareness and funds so that cures can be discovered. Be sure to reach out and offer to help document the lives of those fighting the same battles just as Benjamin Edwards did in creating this amazing video for Jen one year ago. In the words of Mother Theresa,
“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”
When it is detected early, ovarian cancer has a 90% cure rate. But because 80% of women are not diagnosed until its late stages, ovarian cancer is considered the deadliest reproductive system cancer for women. Jen does not fit the profile of a cancer patient. She’s young with no family history of cancer. A completely suprise to all, including her doctors, there is no logical reason for Jen to have been diagnosed. She’s taken good care of her body and there is nothing anyone could point to and say, “This is why this happened to you.”
Below are the common symptoms of ovarian cancer. Jen experienced every one of these leading up to her diagnosis.
1. Severe and frequent bloating/ Increased abdominal size
2. Severe and spastic cramping–similar to menstrual pains but more intense
3. Lower abdominal and back pain
4. Loss of appetite/Feeling full quickly
5. Weight loss
6. Extreme fatigue/Lack of energy
7. Night sweats
These symptoms are common and can be associated with a number of different causes–which is what makes ovarian cancer particularly difficult to detect. If you or someone you know is frequently experiencing these symptoms, the most effective way to diagnosis the disease is through an ultra-sound. You must ask for one and be prepared to fight for it. Despite common belief… ovarian cancer is NOT detected or even tested for during an annual pap exam.
Jen's impact on so many lives for the good will always be cherished.