About Me

    I’m the girl that bewilders her doctors at Mayo Clinic. Now 28, I have routinely received a new cancer diagnosis every three years since my first diagnosis at age 17 of osteosarcoma in my sinuses. It rebelled at our efforts to treat it, so we finally singed it with heavy rounds of radiation.

That radiation saved my life, but its emissions unfortunately seeped into and settled in places they shouldn’t have. I’ve since had thyroid cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), for which I received a bone marrow transplant at age 24.  Just before my 28th birthday we discovered the osteosarcoma had muscled a return in my sinuses. Alongside it, doctors discovered a a high-grade carcinoma, and it has metastasized to my liver.

You could call me “the girl who gets cancer a lot,” but I think you’d be typecasting me. Of course it has been a resounding, formative experience, but I won’t let it be my core. Since my diagnosis 11 years ago, I have graduated college, lived and worked in Washington, DC, Chicago and now Iowa City. I have (re)met and married a man who doesn’t let a day go by without saying and showing he loves me, or making me laugh incessantly with mostly middle school-grade humor. I met so many of you along the way. I deepened friendships. I loved the crap out of my family.

Through all of this, I’ve been reassured that not everything happens for a reason, but with the right people behind you, you can reason with anything.

I write this blog because it keeps me from having to relay cancer news over and over. I do like talking about other things, you know. I also write because so many of you have invested so many prayers and energy into my family and me over the years, and I greatly appreciate your support and sincerity. Thank you for keeping up with me.

My contact info is:
111 S Summit St.
Iowa City, IA 52240
jcl.vancura@gmail.com
 
“Live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.” – Henry David Thoreau
 

13 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Sarah February 25, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    keep on keepin’ on sista! life can be oh so ugly but there are some really beautiful moments in it too. here’s too more of the good stuff and lots of healing energy coming your way!

    xoxo
    Sarah

  2. Laurie Strunk February 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    Hi Jenna – I hope your ears were burning and your nose was itchy last week because Alysha was asking about you! If you ever get bored in New Ulm, I know a 9 year old girl who would love to fill your days with her beautiful smile! 🙂 I am sorry about this new MDS deal. And, I totally LOL out loud when I ready Jack’s thoughts on his own bone marrow. 🙂 He is such a guy… Take care, and always know you are in our prayers.

    Laurie

  3. erika hanson brown February 25, 2011 at 11:10 pm #

    Oh, dear indomitable one! I had no clue that you were going through all of this while we were doing our back-and-forth on the newsletter this week! (Only you would make sure that everything had been “tidied up” before leaving for Minnesota.)

    I can only imagine how delighted your New Ulm family and friends must be to see your cheerful, sweet, smiling visage there to greet them at the Saturday Sauerkraut Supper.

    And have no doubt that all of your friends from around the globe just WISH that they could be there for that supper as well!!!

    And I, for one, cannot wait to witness the grand defeat that is bound to happen to that dammed MDS by the almighty redhead! Beware MDS – The Redhead is on the warpath!

  4. shelley schugel March 20, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    We were at a family get together and my niece Erin Schugel was telling our table about you. I’m so sorry to hear about this. But you are a strong and have a positive attitude and will beat this.You were so helpful to me when I a stranger asked you questions, and I thank you. My niece Natalie has 4 more treatments left and they said she should be cancer free. You will be my thoughts and prayers.

  5. Janis Borchers March 25, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

    Hi Jenna–I’m rarely on FB, but I caught up with your story tonite. Can’t tell you how sorry I am that MDS is in your life–it’s messin’ with the wrong girl! Your courage, spirit, and joie de vivre are an inspiration for all who come across your path. May you feel encouraged, loved and cared for by those close to you, as well as by all who are rallying around you. Wishing you the very best, beautiful redheaded one!

    Janis
    receptionist at Padilla Speer Beardsley

    • Jenna Langer April 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

      Good to hear from you, Janis! Thanks so much for your note.

  6. Nicole Helget May 11, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Good luck tomorrow, girl! Keep chronicling this journey. You are a brave, wise soul, and I’m glad to know you.

  7. Shannon Gauer May 12, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    Hi Jenna! I am an friend of your Dad and Cindy. We all worked together at NCS. I now live in Denver, CO with my husband, and son. I just got word of your bone marrow transplant, and I send all my prayers your way! You have such a glorious, fantastic attitude about life that you are truly an inspiration to me! God Bless you and good luck with the road ahead

    Shannon Gauer

  8. Eunice Olson May 17, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    You don’t know me, but ever since you had your first cancer diagnosis and I saw an article in the paper about you, you have been in my prayers…I talked to you one time at some occasion and told you..please know I still have you on my personal prayer list..peace to you and your family and all of God’s love and healing.

  9. Brian & Chris May 30, 2011 at 10:45 am #

    Hey Jenna!
    Maybe you know us?? Brian & Chris Braun from Sleepy Eye. Good friends of the Ludewigs and Aunt & Uncle to Cody Fox. Denise let us know about your blog and Brian & I sat down to read it today. I’m not sure if you know, but Brian was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma last Sept. and we recently finished 6 months of intensive treatment at Methodist. Reading your blog was bringing back so many thoughts and memories about our experience also. We could just shake our heads and think “yep, been there, done that.” There is something about the cancer connection isn’t there? We, also, were so thankful for our team of doctors and nurses. Amazing,amazing! We always felt like we were getting nothing but the best! We pray for your recovery and the strength to handle everything that comes your way. Brian & Chris

  10. Bob Van Winter May 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Hi Jenna! I saw your tweet about the #LLSsummit, followed it to your profile and to your blog. You have an amazing story and a great writing style. Thanks for being an LLS Advocate! Congrat’s on your new job! I’m glad to you are strong enough and motivated enough to get to it.

  11. Jason Nado September 26, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Hi, Jenna!

    You may not know me, but I remember your mom and dad from New Ulm. I’m very happy to read your blog. I am so sorry to hear of your recent hardships with cancer. I am a fifteen-year survivor of it … knock on wood! I appreciate your positive attitude and perseverance. Keep the faith … I know that someday, we’ll defeat this disease once and a for all.

    Please know that my prayers are with you and your family at this time.

    Take care and enjoy life!

    Jason

  12. candy roiger January 6, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    One of God’s shining angels has left this world to grace the next. Deepest sympathies to those who love her.

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