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Jenna Lang ("Langer")
May 21, 1992 - September 16, 2009 

 

Jenna Lang passed away September 16, 2009 at the age of 17.  This is her story.
 
After returning from a trip to see her Mom and Step-Dad (Darlene and Shawn Fadden) in Rochester, New York in August 2007, Jenna started to complain of a sore tummy.  After a visit to her doctor and a couple of tests, Jenna was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer (Metastatic Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma or as it is often called "Rhabdo").  She went through a 54-week protocol of treatment involving six aggressive chemotherapy drugs, six weeks of radiation treatment and surgery to remove her primary tumor in her abdomen.
 
Jenna experienced many side effects from her treatments and therefore spent many days, sometimes weeks in the hospital.  Jenna received over 120 blood transfusions throughout the course of her treatment.  Side effects Jenna experienced included nausea, mouth sores which went all the way down her throat, constipation, diarrhea and of course hair loss which was the most devastating to her.
 
After weeks and months of chemo and radiation, the primary tumor was finally small enough to be removed without risking any organs.  She had surgery in January 2008 to remove that primary tumor and in order to ensure the tumor was completely removed, they also had to remove sections of 3 of her ribs.
 
In November 2007, a benefit dance was held in Jenna's hometown, Carleton Place, Ontario with all the performers donating their time.  Local businesses, family and friends donated items for an auction and the money raised went to help Jenna's family with expenses.
 
During Jenna's two year fight with this cancer, when at home she would have daily or weekly visits from her home care nurse who would check Jenna and give her some of her needles so she didn't have to go to the hospital so often.
 
Through all the lonely days at the hospital or when at home feeling sick, scared and in pain, she tried to live her life as a normal teenager.  Jenna loved to be with her friends and family and go to parties or shop.  At the time, her favourite clothing lines were Abercrombie and Hollister.  Jenna just wanted to look normal, feel normal and be treated normal - just like every other teenager.  In order to help Jenna look more "normal", Jenna's parents bought her various wigs during her 2 year fight.  She rarely went outside without one of her wigs on.
 
Jenna tried her best to keep up with her schoolwork and attend classes at Carleton Place High School when she could during the first year of her treatments.  When in CHEO, in order to help Jenna get her school credits, she had a teacher at CHEO.  She would visit Jenna when Jenna was well enough and they would do classes like English and Math.  Candlelighters, an organization which helps children with cancer (and their families) provided Jenna with a laptop computer through their CyberKids program.  Jenna's life line to the world when she was in hospital or at home sick was her computer and her cell phone.  While at Rogers House, Jenna was given things like glass beads to make bracelets and art supplies to try and help pass the time while there.  Whenever Jenna was in the hospital her Mom (who would travel from her home in Rocherster, New York to be with Jenna), Dad or Step-Mom would stay with her in her hospital room so Jenna wasn't alone.
 
Jenna was so brave and did anything to beat this disease with grace and courage beyond her years.  All the while, she was building relationships with some other special CHEO kids who also had a form of cancer.  Not only did Jenna build life-long friendships with them but she also had to accept the grief and fear that paralyzed her when they too both passed away from their cancer disease.
 
Jenna also liked to give back to CHEO and offered to speak to other teens who were diagnosed with cancer about what to expect, treatments etc.
 
December 2008 and her scans were clear meaning there were no obvious signs of cancerous tumors.
 
Jenna swimming with the dolphins in Hawaii
Due to Jenna having a terminal disease, the Ottawa chapter of the Make A Wish Foundation offered to send Jenna and her family on a trip to wherever Jenna wanted. Jenna decided on Hawaii and on December 29th, Jenna, her Dad, Step-Mom and her best friend Brittany got on a plane and flew to Honolulu, Hawaii.  Jenna was feeling pretty good during this trip and she enjoyed seven fun filled days forgetting about cancer, needles and chemotherapy.  Jenna enjoyed shopping, sun bathing, swimming with the dolphins, sea-doo riding, a submarine ride and an unforgettable New Year's Eve on the beach.
 
Although her final scans were clear, three months later in early March, her first off treatment scans showed that her disease had returned, but with a vengeance.  Jenna was immediately started on a less toxic chemotheraphy treatment, but towards the end of May 2009, Jenna was admitted to Roger's House for pain control and for palliative care.  Rogers House was built in memory of Roger Neilson, Coach of the Ottawa Senators and provided respite and end-of-life care (pain and symptom management) for children.
 
Ronald McDonald House also became an important resource to Jenna and her family during her 2 year battle.  The building was located across the street from CHEO and Rogers House and provided the family with a place to stay, have a shower and get some much needed rest when Jenna was in the hospital.
 
Scans showed her lower abdomen tumors had continued to grow during her treatment and caused bladder problems.  She stopped this chemotherapy treatment and started on a different type of treatment.  While at Rogers House, Jenna was treated for a bladder infection and urinary tract infection over a two to three week span.  Although she recovered, Jenna started on a two to three week span of sleeping all the time.  Her doctors thought she was going down hill at this point and her tumors were robbing her of all her energy.
 
But Jenna had a goal to work towards - a shopping trip in Toronto with her Auntie Karen.  Jenna worked hard at this point and was completely off all IV-based pain and nausea medications within one week.  Her doctors were shocked to see her up and about later that week when they saw her coming back from a movie she had gone to with her Mom and friend. That following weekend, Jenna was able to go to Toronto and she shopped on Saturday for seven straight hours!  Although she had hoped to go up the CN Tower, Jenna was too tired.  After the trip, Jenna returned home for a few weeks, enjoying some swimming in their pool with her older brother Chris, hanging out with friends and had a great visit with her Mom and Step-Dad in Rochester, New York.  It was now nearing the end of August 2009 and Jenna returned home from New York with lower abdomen pain.  
 
On August 20, 2009 Jenna was back at Rogers House in severe pain and throwing up.  Jenna was re-scanned and her doctors thought additional treatment would not work.  Basically the doctors told Jenna she was going to die.  Jenna still wanted to do some form of treatment otherwise she thought she was giving up so she started taking a mild dose of oral chemotherapy treatment.
 
On Saturday August 29, 2009, Jenna's Uncle Eric let her shave his head bald.  Jenna enjoyed doing that and was very careful not to cut her Uncle's head in the process. 
 
Things continued to deteriorate quickly and her main tumor was growing in size to the point where it took up all the room in her tummy so she never felt hungry.  Jenna's organs also began to shut down and her family had to accept that they were going to loose her.  Her brother Chris and his girlfriend Sheada tried to come visit and stay with Jenna as much as they could.
 
Friday September 11, 2009 was a good day for Jenna.  She was happy, talkative and in a good mood.  That evening CHEO had arranged for a volunteer photographer to come into Rogers House to take photos of Jenna and her Dad and even some of her with her Auntie Karen and Uncle Eric.
On September 14, 2009 Jenna had a surprise visitor.  It was Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators hockey team.  He had actually met Jenna on a few occasions during visits to see the kids at CHEO and Rogers House but this visit perked Jenna up from her sleepy, weak state.
 
Jenna started  to loose weight rapidly and got weaker and weaker and on September 16, 2009, surrounded by her family and friends, she passed away just before 5:00pm.  Jenna's family was very thankful for Rogers House as with Jenna being there, it allowed her family and friends to spend the precious final days with Jenna in a comfortable, private, loving and supportive atmosphere.
 
We all miss Jenna but she will now live on through not only our memories, but through two foundations set up in her name.  Her Mom and Step-Dad, Darlene and Shawn Fadden, set up a foundation in Rochester, New York called "Jenna's Journey - Lifting Spirits. Creating Smiles." with CURE Childhood Cancer Association.  Her Dad and Step-Mom, Bob and Jennifer Lang, set up the Jenna's Memorial Fund, Helping Kids with Cancer, through Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs - which is this Fund.  The Carleton Place High School also planted a tree in Jenna's honour on the grounds of the school.

Jenna's family and friends miss Jenna terribly but Jenna will always live on in us through all our precious memories.

Until we meet again Jenna.
 


Candlelighters