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Benefit for Jennifer Howard this Saturday

By Staff | Jul 3, 2008

A number of benefit events will be held this Saturday to help Jennifer Howard of Estherville who is battling cancer. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

A series of events will be held Saturday to help Jennifer Howard of Estherville who is fighting cancer.

A four-sport athlete and graduate of Lincoln Central, Jennifer attended Northwestern College in Orange City and later graduated with a degree in Human Development Child and Family Services from South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D. She is currently director of Joyful Journeys daycare and preschool based at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Spirit Lake in addition to teaching at the Iowa Lakes Community College Spirit Lake Campus Success Center.

Perpetually energetic, Jennifer taught Head Start for seven years then four years at Laker High School and was assistant coach at Iowa Lakes for women’s athletics.

Jennifer discovered a lump in her breast and was referred by Jolene Merrill, certified nurse practitioner, to oncologist Dr. Addison Tolentino at Avera McKennan in Sioux Falls. Her assisting family physician is Dr. Randy Asman. She was diagnosed June 2007 with breast cancer which metastasized to her spine. A tumor was later discovered at the base of her brain.

She underwent 12 radiation treatments to her neck and back before having surgery on the base of her brain March 25 followed by another 14 radiation treatments. She is just finishing her first two-week round of oral chemotherapy treatments with a week off before the treatments start again. She’s been taking five chemo pills both morning and night.

Perhaps it’s the fact that she is so active that she finds one of the most challenging things of her treatment to be the fatigue she feels during chemotherapy.

“I’ve always been so independent for so long that it’s hard to ask for help,” Jennifer said. “The worst thing for me is that I get tired.”

To compound her cancer, Jennifer was diagnosed with diabetis insipides in February and last week was diagnosed with shingles, both of which require oral medication as well.

“Everything seems to be going really well otherwise,” Jennifer says, almost jokingly.

After her latest PET scans and MRIs, it appeared that the cancer had stabilized and no new spots were visible.

“I’m very happy with the care that I’ve had at Avera,” Jennifer said. Her doctors were very pleased with her as a patient, too. In fact, they were nothing short of stunned when she was up and around and out of the hospital two days after surgery.

Jennifer will continue with chemotherapy which will hopefully shrink the cancer on her spine since that surgery would be too invasive. Once her breast cancer is in check, her doctors hope to perform a lumpectony.

Through it all, though, Jennifer has kept her spirit, the one thing no one will every take away from her.

“I’m a goer. I’ve always been a goer. My faith has lots to do with it, and my family. My friends are very supportive,” Jennifer said.

Jennifer’s sister, Laura DeVary, is helping by putting together a benefit to help her with her medical and travel expenses.

Starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, a four-person best shot tourney will be held at Riverview Golf Course. To participate, contact Riverview Golf Course at 362-3911 or David DeVary at 209-0159.

A beef supper prepared by the Emmet County Cattlemen will be held from 5-7 p.m. Saturday for a freewill donation at the Emmet County Fairgrounds in Estherville. Entertainment will be provided by Cornerstone. An auction will follow at 7 p.m. with numerous items donated by area businesses, including two Twins tickets, two Vikings tickets, prints, and more. Supplemental funds are being provided by Thrivent Financial.

To help Jennifer cope with her insurance deductibles and cost of travel for treatment, send donations to: Jennifer Howard Benefit Fund, % Bank Plus, 1202 Central Ave., Estherville, IA 51334. For updates on Jennifer’s condition, go on-line to www.caringbridge.org/jenniferhoward