Jen’s Story

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Faces of the Foundation: 2015

Condition: Multiple Sclerosis

Resources: Mayo Clinic

U.S. National Library of Medicine

WebMD

Rocky Mountain Multiple Sclerosis Center

Multiple Sclerosis International Federation

National Multiple Sclerosis Society

 

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Meet Jen

  • Kind, loving, and joyful personality that lights up a room
  • Respects each person with MS in all ways
  • Wants us to look people with MS in the eyes to connect to the real person inside

For Jennifer Blankenship, becoming a world traveler was probably not what she originally planned, but knowing that her life would be shorter than average propelled her to maximize the most of every moment.

Jen was a Colorado native, along with her three siblings. With college in both Colorado and California, she worked and managed in both the Health Club and Property Management professions.

At just 24, she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis but was determined not to slow down any more than necessary. At age 29 she married for the first time for seven years. After that dissolved, she says she met her second husband—the one she called her one true love and soulmate. They both were able to travel the world–Africa, Scotland, Ireland, Mexico and Greece—being just some of the highlights. Africa hooked her, she says, because of the beautiful & amazing animals, especially Zebras.

In hopes of a breakthrough, she went to Costa Rica in 2010 at the age of 50 for a stem cell treatment for people with MS. While it brought back feeling to her feet, it also reignited more pain. In short, it was a disappointment. Becoming a vegetarian was part of a nutritional experiment she embraced to encourage healing, though benefits were minimal.

The final years for Jen meant a wheelchair and limited mobility, but she wasn’t yet done. She kept notes, and her sense of humor, and hoped to write an uplifting book about living with MS, chronicling the lighter, and occasionally funny side of her experiences, though time for it was cut short. While the MS finally took her life in 2016, it never quenched her spirit, her zest for the life she had, and the delightful and passionate woman she showed to everyone.

As a Face of the Foundation, we are grateful that we were able to give her a platform to share her story about who she was as a person and what it was like living with Multiple Sclerosis. She left a rich legacy of memories emerging from her kind, loving and joyful personality.

What Jen wanted you to know about living with MS:

  • When you see someone with MS, know that there is still a real person in there and we still have the same heart, soul, emotions and desires as others
  • MS is humbling in that it causes you to be completely dependent on others for all your safety and care.
  • We mourn our loss of dignity and being respected.
  • Respect each person with MS in all ways, just like you expect from others.
  • Listen carefully to the wants and needs of each person with MS.
  • Investigate all care givers & facilities extremely close (abuse is rampant).
  • All people with MS that desire to, should be allowed to live at home.
  • Never exclude the person who has MS for any decision regarding their life.
  • Look people with MS in the eyes to connect with the real person inside.
  • Don’t distance yourself when things get difficult, it is then that they need you the most.
  • Don’t just drop by without checking first if they are up to seeing you. Visitors are wonderful yet there are days and times my body does not cooperate, and I have to decline.
  • My heart gets broken if we set a time you are going to stop by and then you don’t show up.
  • It is OK for you to offer help to people with MS, both privately and out in public. I appreciate when people ask if they can help me. There are many times I need it (like when I am staring at a glass of wine that I might be unable to hold due to the shaking in my hands that particular day).
  • Life is about choices. I choose to be the best person I can be. I love life, my family and my friends. I enjoy getting out and participating in life rather than watching it go by.
  • My secret hope is to someday meet a cabana boy… with a dog… yeah that would be great.

Jennifer Blankenship 1961 – 2016

On June 23, 2016 the world lost a beautiful and passionate soul. As a Face of the Foundation, we are grateful that we were able to give her a platform to share her story about who she was as a person and what it was like living with Multiple Sclerosis. She will always be remembered for her kind, loving and joyful personality.

What Jen would like you to know about living with MS

  • When you see someone with MS, know that there is still a real person in there and we still have the same heart, soul, emotions and desires as others
  • MS is humbling in that it causes you to be completely dependent on others for all of your safety and care.
  • We mourn our loss of dignity and being respected.
  • Respect each person with MS in all ways, just like you expect from others.
  • Listen carefully to the wants and needs of each person with MS.
  • Investigate all care givers & facilities extremely close (abuse is rampant).
  • All people with MS that desire to, should be allowed to live at home.
  • Never exclude the person who has MS for any decision regarding their life.
  • Look people with MS in the eyes to connect with the real person inside.
  • Don’t distance yourself when things get difficult, it is then that they need you the most.
  • Don’t just drop by without checking first if I am up to seeing you. Though I love visitors and look forward to company, there are days and times my body does not cooperate and I have to decline.
  • My heart gets broken if we set a time you are going to by to stop by and then you don’t show up.
  • It is OK for you to offer help to people with MS, both privately and out in public. I appreciate when people ask if they can help me. There are many times I need it (like when I am staring at a glass of wine that I might be unable to hold due to the shaking in my hands that particular day).
  • Life is about choices. I choose to be the best person I can be. I love life, my family and my friends. I enjoy getting out and participating in life rather than watching it go by.
  • My secret hope is to someday meet a cabana boy… with a dog… yeah that would be great.

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Jen’s Blog

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