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Cancer. It is just another disease, until it strikes someone you love.

Jennifer Steadman Rathbun never would have guessed cancer would strike her family. At the age of 32, Jennifer was head-over-heels in love with her husband, Charles, and two children, Wesley (3) and Emma (6 months). Jennifer, Charles, and Wesley had moved from Napa, California to Overland Park, Kansas in 2006 where Emma was born.

Jennifer's 2006 breast cancer diagnosis had been a big surprise. Baby Emma was only six months old. Jennifer was able to treat the cancer through drugs and surgery. She was cancer free a few months later.

Fast forward to a summerish Saturday morning in September of 2008. Jennifer sat in a coffee shop in Overland Park, Kansas, talking with Sunday Tollefson. The two had not seen each other for many years, perhaps since their college years as sorority sisters, and were thoroughly enjoying their time together on this day. The topic of cancer came up, and Jennifer said with a smile, "Oh yes, I had breast cancer, when my youngest was six months old." Sunday was stunned as she had not heard about Jennifer's earlier diagnosis.

Jennifer proceeded to describe the experience. She was proud to be able to recount the details of her journey based on the fact that it ended with her being cancer free. She joked that she was currently looking for a way to get the other breast redone for free since the "new" breast was so great. She was funny, chipper, happy, healthy, beautiful, and vibrant.

In January of 2009, Jennifer went to her doctor because she couldn't get rid of her cough. The chest x-ray showed she had pneumonia. As an added precaution the doctor ran the tumor marker lab tests to ensure the pneumonia was not a side effect of cancer.

After receiving a call from a nurse that the tumor marker lab results were normal, Jennifer and Charles sighed a breath of relief. That meant the cancer had not returned. A few hours later, the doctor called to say that the nurse had misread the lab results.

The MRI later that week indicated that the cancer had indeed returned. And spread. Jennifer chose to "buy time" with chemo. She maintained her sense of humor as she carried around an oxygen tank and struggled to breathe. The breast cancer had spread to her liver, lungs, and bones.

At her memorial service on March 16, 2009, one week before her 35th birthday, her family members described her last weeks as being 'family focused," calm, and loving.

The community of people who love Jennifer continue to celebrate her life every day, just as you may celebrate someone who lost a battle to breast cancer. To any cancer.

On January 30th, 2009, Jennifer wrote the following words.

"Hi Sunday! Thanks for saying I'm valuable! You can help me fight breast cancer by encouraging everyone you know...even men...to get annual exams by a doc and do monthly exams themselves. Also get tested for BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. I almost get giddy when I think of all the collegians I could save if #1 I could breathe without help; and #2 I could walk and breathe without having to sit down every two minutes!!"

To honor the life of a wonderful woman, and to honor those who would be devastated if you lost a battle with breast cancer, please use the link below to get started on your self-exams.

Get your FREE PDF breast self-exam card here.

RUSH RIGHT: Reveal Your Best YOU During Sorority Recruitment has been dedicated to the memory of a courageous woman who tragically lost her fight with breast cancer.

In memory of Jennifer Steadman Rathbun
March 22, 1974 - March 7, 2009

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