4 Jan


Okay. I know I haven’t written in a while. A really long while. Sorry. Admittedly I’m a little lackluster in terms of motivation.

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been home from the Iowa tropics and in New Ulm. It’s a tough decision but luckily Jimmy was home for most of it. I’ve come to the point where I can’t be home alone all day and I don’t have near the support network in Iowa City as I do in the motherland.” – Jenna C. Langer 

Jenna died on Saturday, January 3rd, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. before she could finish her last Redhead Report post. Her last post, as quoted above, remained incomplete for good reason. It wasn’t incapacitation or a lack of her ferocious redhead fighting spirit that prevented her last post; rather, Jenna put what remaining energy she had into the people that she loved. This is the abbreviated story of her last month.

Jenna always wanted everything to be wonderful and beautiful. Thanksgiving was no exception. Her infectious radiance permeated Thanksgiving at her Aunt Cate’s. She continued the beautiful mission of her life a few days later when her childhood friend, Danny Schreiber and his fiancé, Shannon, invited her to a friend’s 30th birthday party. Jenna accepted the invitation, wore a stunning dress, and defined beauty and class as she sat and conversed with friends and complete strangers alike. She then fussed over getting Christmas cards out and picking the perfect gifts for her family and friends. With that goal accomplished and the arrival of Christmas, Jenna became the nightly referee of scrabble matches between her brother, Jack, and her mother, Lisa. She also partook in the family tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life. While Old Saint Nick headed to the North Pole, Jenna and I drove back to Iowa blasting KC and JoJo for our last weekend in Iowa City.

The normalcy of times past permeated the weekend. We lounged around, drank beer, and ate burgers as we watched Gonzaga basketball. In the morning, she sat in the sunshine of our living room and read the New York Times. We cuddled the rest of the day together in the home she so thoughtfully and beautifully created.

When she returned to New Ulm the following day, she created daily plans for herself and a host of other plans when I could return home. On New Year’s Day, she drove to Wisconsin to celebrate Christmas and the New Year with her dad, Kurt, and his family at her Aunt Ann’s home. She came home and felt tired but still called to say she loved me and wished me a good day at work.

Jenna went into liver and kidney failure on January 1st, 2015 as a result of the disease she had defied for 12 years. I did not think death was so indiscriminate or callous as to kill Jenna. But despite multiple organ failures, she still managed to perk up and say she loved me and gave me a kiss before returning to unconsciousness. Jenna was not in pain and surrounded by her family until her last breath.

The finest poets and novelists could not adequately convey Jenna’s gratitude to the people who supported her over the last 12 years. She is eternally grateful, and I say, on her behalf, “Thank you all.”

The Redhead Report, which chronicled the joys and tribulations of her singular life, was Jenna’s voice to the world, and, most importantly, to those who will undergo the scourge of cancer. It will end later this week with the same voice in the form of her obituary, composed to all of you, with love, from Jenna Catherine Langer Vancura.

Jenna Langer Vancura. Completed by Jimmy Vancura. Edited by Franz Vancura.


Visitation Friday the 9th of January 2015 from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Minnesota Valley Funeral Home: 218 North Broadway Street, New Ulm, MN 56073

Saturday the 10th of January 2015 at 11 a.m.: Mass at Cathedral of the Holy Trinity followed by an afterglow party at New Ulm Community Center

Church: 605 North State Street, New Ulm, MN 56073

Community Center: 600 North German Street, New Ulm, MN 56073


45 Responses to “Incomplete”

  1. Melissa Stewart January 4, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    Oh Jimmy, I am so thankful for your post as I didn’t have much communication with her the last month. Your words are as beautiful as hers. She loved you so much and I know how grateful she was for you in her life.

  2. Stacy Abel January 4, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    My heart and prayers go out to you all

  3. Betsy Price January 5, 2015 at 12:31 am #

    Im glad you completed her lasts post for her. I know she loved you and loved life. She enjoyed it to the fullest that’s for sure. I’m glad she got to enjoy sometime with family and friends over the holidays as well as time relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.

    • Barb Haroldson January 5, 2015 at 12:49 am #

      I don’t know if you remember me,,, I am Ross’s mom. I am so sad for you you. I just wanted to let you know that there are many people out here that are wanting to give you some support. I am so, sorry for loosing your best friend, lover, and life partner. Hugs, I don’t know what else I can do. Barb Haroldson

  4. Samantha Mecklenburg January 5, 2015 at 1:58 am #

    I am so thankful for this post. This morning I re-read her last entry and cried thinking how it would be my last time taking in her beautiful thoughts in the form of new blog posts. My prayers and love to all who loved her.

  5. Joni January 5, 2015 at 5:09 am #

    My deepest Sympathies to all of you! May your precious memories always carry you thru your hard times.

  6. Denise Brookie January 5, 2015 at 6:07 am #

    Jimmy, thank you for completing this post at such a difficult time. I am so sorry for your loss. Jenna spoke at a Be The Match dinner that I set up a few years ago in Minneapolis. She was such an inspiration to all the staff who recruit potential donors to the Be The Match registry. Her personality was contagious and she captured the hearts of the audience with her story. I will be thinking of you and the rest of Jenna’s family this week and in the weeks to come.

  7. Sandi January 5, 2015 at 6:25 am #

    Thank you Jimmy for this post. You as well as all who knew and loved Jenna are in my thoughts and prayers. She was an angel here on Earth and will be greatly missed.

  8. Cindy Hausch-Booth January 5, 2015 at 6:42 am #

    My prayers are going up. I was thinking of her just the other day and wondering how she was…so sorry for your loss of your beautiful wife.

    Sent from my iPhone


  9. Marggi Thordson January 5, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    On behalf of our entire family we send our deepest heartfelt sympathy to you Her loving his husband, to her mother, brother, grandmother & all those she loved. Jenna remains a beautiful inspiration to us all – the God-given brilliance in her writings somehow made us feel good, despite all the pain & challenges she endured. Jenna shared the message of hope, love & peace- Few people can touch us inside the way she did, in how she made us feel. We send back the love she inspired and ask God to wrap the threads of this’s love around each.of you today & in the days ahead. Love to our Eternal Redhead, rest well & shine bright.

    • Gail Berle January 5, 2015 at 10:09 am #

      Amen. Well said. Thank you.

  10. Kathryn January 5, 2015 at 6:48 am #

    my heart is broken. Jenna and I met in Lancaster in 2007 and shared an amazing semester studying abroad. I never thought this would happen… She is a person so full of life, how can it be gone? I’m so terribly sorry for your loss Jimmy, and what the world will be missing out on.

    • Kathry June 28, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      i miss you Jenna

  11. Ellie Beaver January 5, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    Thank you for completing Jenna’s last post. I’m so sorry for your, and ours, and the whole world’s loss. Peace and love.

  12. Katie (Neigebauer) Vasquez January 5, 2015 at 6:55 am #

    Jimmy, Beautifully written. My prayers to you and your families not only for this week but for the months and years to come. May you find joy in the memories you shared together.

  13. Denise Fischer January 5, 2015 at 7:12 am #

    Jimmy, thank you for the final post. I was so lucky to have her touch my life and my family’s. She will forever dance in our hearts.

  14. Rose Forst January 5, 2015 at 7:52 am #

    Thank you Jimmy for your words. She will always be an amazing gift.
    As always, thinking of you often,

    Rose Forst

  15. breaatkinson January 5, 2015 at 8:11 am #

    Jimmy, thank you for putting into words the beautiful next chapters of Jenna’s chronicles. She touched so many and lived so deep. She will truly be missed. Love to all the Vancuras, Langers and friends and family who have experienced this loss.

  16. Kelly Boelter Stadtherr January 5, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    Lifting you up in prayer. I am heartbroken. We will all miss every aspect of beautiful Jenna. Thank you so much for finding the time to help Jenna finish her post–and so beautifully and eloquently written. No doubt Jenna is beaming with pride in heaven. Take care. Hang in there. We are here for all of you.

  17. Kathy Kemmeter January 5, 2015 at 8:44 am #

    Thank you for sharing. She was a remarkable person who touched so many lives, you have all been in our thoughts and prayers. Jenna will truly be missed by many.

    The Kemmeters

  18. Tricia Schreiber January 5, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    Stuart Scott, the ESPN anchor who passed away yesterday after his lengthy battle with cancer, once shared a message that is now so timely for all of us who knew and loved Jenna. “When you die,” he said, “it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” We all know, Jenna beat cancer. She beat it fiercely.

    Jimmy, we love you. Although your hands punched out this last Redhead Report, Jenna’s spirit put the words on the screen. It was all her. The two of you became one, that was God’s plan. We are holding you and your families close in thought and prayer.

  19. Susan Garcia Hagen January 5, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. I knew Jenna for a very short time, but she has inspired me well beyond the short time we spent together as interns. I suspect, that I’m not the only one she has touched with even the briefest of acquaintances. She had an infectiously positive and kind personality, a beautiful spirit, and wow was she ever strong. She was an amazing woman. My heart is broken to read the news, and my prayers are with her friends and family.

  20. April January 5, 2015 at 9:23 am #

    I am so sad we won’t be blessed with her beautiful mind, words and writing but so thankful you shared this. Thoughts with you all.

  21. Gail Berle January 5, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    This is a Cathedral classmate of Lisa’s (Jenna’s mom) and also distant cousin, aka, Gail Domeier/Peterson (currently Berle) writing… I am deeply sorry that I haven’t been aware of the depth or details of Jenna’s life until I was informed of her passing. So I spent the last 48 hours reading and listening (crying, smiling) to every possible piece of info I could find. I feel I know her a little better now, and I think I feel her presence in my prayers. She is the calm after the storm! What a beautiful, talented, spirit-filled, inspiring, aspiring, amazing redhead! May she be with us in every prayer we pray because I don’t know how else to heal from a powerful presence I only know through reading blogs and listening to MPR. A boat-full of prayers to Jimmy, Lisa, Kurt and other family members and friends! Gail Berle

  22. Jill Kendall-Erb January 5, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    I am so sad and sorry to read this news. I am a sarcoma survivor and I work for Be The Match. Jenna’s story has touched me deeply on many fronts. I cheered her successes and am now mourning her passing. I will pray for all of her loved ones.

  23. Carol Schroeder January 5, 2015 at 10:32 am #

    To all who knew and loved Jenna, Jimmy and families:

    My deepest sympathies to you all. What a shining star she will always be. I loved her writings. I will offer my prayers for all of you…..

  24. Wendy Sontag, Iowa Chapter LLS January 5, 2015 at 10:52 am #

    We hold Jenna’s family in our heart and prayers. She was a bright light and will be deeply missed.

  25. L January 5, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Jenna’s life sounds like it was beautifully lived, even after her diagnosis! I am a better me knowing life can be lived so completely, as Jenna did with hers. My heart is broken for her family and loving husband but it has to be a great feeling knowing she is such a confident soul. Rest in peace, sweet angel.

  26. Lora Rahe January 5, 2015 at 2:24 pm #

    A beautiful tribute to a beautiful spirit. I have prayed fiercely for Jenna throughout the years, wishing that she would be freed from cancer. Now, at last, she is free, though not in the way I, in my human understanding, wished. May she always soar with the eagles and live in our hearts.

    Lora Rahe

  27. Steve January 5, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    Jimmy, I knew Jenna through some contract work she did for B-M for Astellas Pharma. I work for Astellas. I never knew the depth of Jenna’s illness which is a testament to her courage and determination to live her life and not let cancer dictate to her. Her life and her words are examples for us all. God does not promise a perfect life. I learned this lesson when my oldest son was killed in AFG in ’09. I know I was blessed for a while for him to be in my life. In time, as the hurt smoothes over, you will recall this rich blessing that Jenna was and how we are better for having them in our lives even if only for a short time. God bless you and Jenna’s family and friends.
    Steve Mitchell

  28. Jim Heil January 5, 2015 at 6:19 pm #

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you and the whole family. What a special gift of love you two shared. Jenna was an amazing woman with a tremendous attitude and she will be missed. God Bless you for finishing her last post!

  29. Denise January 5, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    To Jimmy and Jenna’s family-
    We are so sorry to hear this news. Our hearts are filled with sadness. Jenna had a beautiful spirit and brought smiles to many. We knew her during her first three years of cancer. We had the privilege to have her in our home often. Jenna had ups and downs during this time and she didn’t let that interfere with her sense of humor or conversations. We loved her various hats she wore. One of my favorites was a knitted frog hat.
    Jenna suffers no more. She is happy to hear and see all the love that is spread throughout the next few days. She will never be forgotten here on earth. She is starting a new chapter in heaven.
    Sorry for your loss-
    The Ludewig Family

  30. Tim Babel January 5, 2015 at 6:36 pm #

    May her light shine in all of us. Jimmy, how lucky you are to have had such a person to share such love and time with. Tears in my eyes, joy in my heart to have known such a brave and beautiful person. She reminds me of my late wife, who conquered fear and was such an inspiration, as Jenna has been for so many. Peace to you and the family. Please know how lucky you are so share such a life, if only for a much too short time.
    Tim Babel

  31. Alaina Lynch January 5, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    I can’t picture Jenna without picturing her enjoying, or at least making the most, of whatever we were doing. Whether it was tutoring, happy hour, or taking a 1.5 hour metro ride to get to the less picked-over Anthropologie, she was always just fun to be around. I think this is true because she was absolutely someone who could make a situation better through her presence, her incredible energy, humor, and heart, but also because she was thoughtful about how she spent her time – when she was in, she was all in. She gave so much to those causes, and those people, she cared most about, and had an incredible ability to just be in a moment. She touched so many people in a profound and lasting way by her example, myself included. I think about Jenna often and I know I will continue to do so. My thoughts are with Jimmy, her family, and her many friends. I’m so glad she had such wonderful people in her too-short life. Sending love.

  32. robinguadagnini January 5, 2015 at 9:35 pm #

    Oh gosh…I am just heartbroken for you all. She was the most amazing, happy, gifted, spirited person I knew. I still remember when she confided in me about her first cancer battle And then with grace, dignity and the most effervescent spirit she tackled it all again (and again). Her love for you (all) was so evident. That smile and joy she had said it all in every picture captured. Thank you Jimmy for finishing her post. You all have been in my constant thoughts and prayers. And hearing that with the gusto that she radiated, she shared every minute and joy and holiday spirit she had with everyone she loved. Makes me smile. I know my life is better because of her…And to quote Stuart Scott (which to me just sums up Jenna) “You beat cancer by how you LIVE, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.” and with that she BEAT cancer over and over again. Hugs, love and prayers to you, her family, and your family….

  33. Darci Haugeberg January 5, 2015 at 11:21 pm #

    Praying for you Jimmy and ache for you! You can rest assured in this fact, you were the most awesome husband, best friend and caregiver to your wife! Without knowing either one of you, I KNOW! I know because my husband has been my caregiver and source of wonder for many of our almost 34 years of marriage. I have been seriously ill off and on since I was twenty three…long history…too much to list. Because I know how amazing it is to have a hubby who is your biggest support while seriously ill, I can tell you that you made every day worth living and fighting for for your precious wife and best friend! Mayo and the doctors and nurses there have kept me alive many times but without you I assure you she would not have had as many years as she did to enjoy life, despite her battle with cancer. I know from my experience that you carried her through so many days….Nurse Kristen Keise first pointed me in the direction of you and your beautiful redhead a while back ( I too am a feisty, determined redhead! ) Kristen loved and admired your wife! I promise you that you are being held up in love and prayer by me and so many of others! I pray that you are letting Jesus hold you in His loving arms as you celebrate the beautiful wife you shared life with and as you grieve for her. Thank you for completing her last blog to the world and thank you for inspiring and encouraging so many! Love and hugs to you and all who are mourning in her absence….her light will never be extinguished!

  34. Katie Porter January 5, 2015 at 11:53 pm #

    Wow this is so incredibly beautiful that you allowed us into some of the most intimate moments of Jenna’s last few weeks here on earth. She was a gorgeous woman who sparkled from the inside out, and I was blessed by her contagious smile and infinitely positive outlook on life! Thank you again Jimmy- prayers for peace and comfort as you celebrate her life this week.

  35. Susan Sieve January 6, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    I remember so well the day that little Jenna entered my second grade classroom at St. John’s. It was a couple of days before the big Christmas program. After attending a large suburban elementary school, she was now moving mid-year into tiny St.John’s. She was surprised when she watched a rehearsal with me that the school popoulation was so small. When the next rehearsal took place she said she wanted to be in the program with the other kids…even though she did not know the songs in the program. She joined the other 2nd graders and performed for parents a few nights later. Even at that age she had a lot of moxie!
    My condolences to Jimmy, Lisa, Jack and the rest of her family. My heart breaks for all of you.

  36. Karen Paquette January 6, 2015 at 6:27 pm #

    Dear Jimmy, I am so so sorry for the loss of your beautiful and beloved Jenna, She is my first cousin once removed as her mother is my first cousin. Her grandfather Dick is my uncle. Blessings and prayers. Cousin Karen in North Carolina.

  37. Cody Fox January 6, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

    Jenna brought everyone around her to smiles and made everyone around her a better person. I will always hold dear the great memories I have shared with Jenna. We are all so blessed for knowing her. My deepest sympathy to Jimmy, the Langer family and everyone who ever met such a wonderful person.

  38. Linda Hornick January 6, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    Jenna has been an inspiration to all of us. Her positive attitude & great spirit always shined. My continuing prayers for Lisa, Jimmy & the rest of the family.

  39. Joe Dangor January 9, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    Dear Jimmy, the public affairs staff at Mayo Clinic lost a wonderful friend with Jenna’s passing. While we knew Jenna as a patient and a friend, we also knew she was an accomplished PR professional and many of us here considered to be a colleague. From our perspective she never let her illness define her. She inspired us with her passion for raising cancer awareness in order to help fund research. She was always available for media interviews and was willing to share her story with candor, a self-deprecating sense of humor and that beautiful smile. We all will miss her very much. Our sincere condolences to you and your family.

  40. Lori Mathiowetz January 10, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time with Jenna in the last month of her life in New Ulm. Everything you have written is so perfectly accurate, thank you for that. To witness to her beautiful attitude, and the way in which she approached something like a small town open mic at Smileys Tavern as if it were the most important place to be on earth was so impactful. She was immersed in each performance with such respect and took special joy in an Irish folk poet (: Her way of being present to the present moment, no matter how “small,” with such character will forever remain an example I look to in my own life. Because no moment is insignificant, they are all perfect, and Jenna reminded me of that that evening. Thank you for sharing her with us Jimmy.

  41. Grandpa Dick and Grandma June January 11, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    Jenna was so special to all of us. She was our beautiful “Redhead”. She was so intelligent, so personable, so likeable, so caring, so courageous, so brave, so inspirational, and simply – so very lovable. We can ask ourselves over and over – Why? But the answers are never acceptable. Perhaps Jenna had her own answer as she expressed in her November posting of the Redhead Report: “I can honestly say I’ve never been inclined to ask ” Why Me?”. I think it is because I consider the question futile and without answer. There is no reason”. We can take some comfort in knowing that God has reserved a special place for Jenna in Heaven. She well deserves it. We love you Jenna and we will dearly miss you.

    Grandpa Dick and Granma June


  1. Cancer claims Jenna Vancura | NewsCut | Minnesota Public Radio News - January 6, 2015

    […] Update 1/6 – Her husband finished her last blog post. […]

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