“When you receive a terminal diagnosis, there is so much that is frightening. You are never going to be fearless, but you can find ways to fear less.” – Jennifer Glass
In January 2013, then 49-year-old Jennifer Glass was diagnosed with an advanced form of the most common type of lung cancer seen in nonsmokers — just four months after her wedding. Jennifer’s husband, Harlan, found a small lump at the base of her neck near her left collarbone, and tests soon revealed that the source was a tumor on Jennifer’s left lung that had metastasized.
Jennifer pursued every available option to extend her life, and she succeeded for more than two years. But she also understood the aggressive nature of her illness and sought options for ending her suffering when her cancer, and the pain it would cause, reached its inevitable peak. Jennifer was devastated to learn how limited those options were in her home state of California.
Jennifer used her keen sense of humor, referring to herself as “a top-of-my-lungs kind of girl” because her cancer originated at the top of her left lung.Outraged and motivated, she became a tireless advocate for death with dignity in California and nationwide. That kind of outspokenness came naturally: A corporate communications professional, Jennifer knew exactly how to apply her skills to deliver a message. She launched a popular and intensely personal blog about living with cancer, wrote op-eds and guest columns, produced videos, and spoke out via NPR, Parade Magazine and other media as well as before her representatives in the California legislature.
In the spring of 2013, she underwent months of aggressive chemotherapy and radiation which all but eliminated the tumors in her neck and halted growth of the primary tumor in her lung. She was in remission. But sadly, this summer things changed.
In June, Jennifer learned her cancer had spread to her liver, abdomen, pelvis, cervix and brain; she entered hospice last month. On the evening of August 11, Jennifer passed away peacefully with Harlan at her side.
Jennifer was crestfallen that a humane end-of-life option was not legally available to her when she needed it. Jennifer was forced to endure a prolonged and painful death that was also devastating for her family members to witness. Pass death-with-dignity laws all across the country. Help fund the work so that no one else has to suffer the way Jennifer and her family did. Hold on to hope, and continue to fight for justice.
Before Jennifer ever came to Compassion & Choices, she had a following because of her fearless videos about her cancer. You can honor her memory by watching and sharing these videos, which she hoped would offer inspiration to others:
Watch Jennifer discuss the importance of aid in dying to her peace of mind.
Watch Jennifer’s emotional appeal to California lawmakers at the introduction of SB 128, the End of Life Option Act.
Watch Jennifer’s journey through her cancer treatment in this touching picture-a-day project.
Right-click on the images below to download and share them to Facebook: