Greenville grad shares wife’s journey with cancer

GREENVILLE – While struggling with cancer before her death on Oct. 2, 2016, Jenna Henderson penned a journal, and now, her husband, Scott, has published a book memorializing his wife and her journey with cancer.

“About a month after Jenna passed away, I started feeling prompted that our story wasn’t over yet…that I needed to share her story,” he said. “Out of that, came the thought of publishing a book. At first I wanted to rush it and get it out to friends and family that Christmas (in 2016), but as my brother, Ryan, helped me process this, he helped me slow down. He helped me realize that this book could be bigger than I could imagine if it were done right.”

Henderson said his purpose in sharing this book was threefold.

“It was to keep Jenna’s story going; to share how Jenna was so joyful with something so devastating with others going through difficult times; and to share Jesus (and Jenna’s faith) with those who may not know Him,” Scott said.

His wife, he said, had ovarian cancer twice when she was in high school, followed by 13 years of remission.

“We found out that it came back in April 2015,” he recalled. “After six months of aggressive treatment, we felt as though we had beaten the disease. Six months later though, the pains returned and the cancer came back different and more aggressive.”

Henderson, who grew up in Greenville, graduating from Greenville High School in 2001 and from Ohio University in 2005, had this to say about his wife and her feelings, mentally-, faith- and health-wise.

“Much of the book walks through how she was feeling in all three of these areas,” he said. “She was strong, hopeful, and many times, even healthy (minus the chemo and radiation plans). Jenna never complained. The only real ‘negative comment I ever heard her state was when she was feeling so horrible toward the end, is when she said ‘This sucks, I want to go be with Jesus.'”

According to him, even to the end, she was never afraid of death.

“I’d describe it as more excited to be healed, but mostly to be with the one she loved more than anything else…Jesus,” he said.

The author said 80 percent of the book comes from her blogs/journals and prayer journals.

“I didn’t modify it much unless I couldn’t get licensing for some of the quotes,” said Henderson, son of Mike and Deb Henderson of Greenville. “I also wrote the foreword, the epilogue, and the acknowledgements section of the book. Other than your typical college writing, I have no prior writing experience. The other portions that are in the book are stories that friends share about Jenna.”

From start to finish, Henderson estimated it took right around a year to complete and publish the book. The book was on sale right before Christmas 2017, and it sold out in one day (250 copies).

“I also created my own company to publish the book through Distressed Roots, which is more of my story. It can be found at www.worththesuffering.com/about

Has the book helped him in his grieving?

“Yes and no,” he replied. “It still feels like Jenna and I are married… that this is our last big adventure together and that our story isn’t over yet. I find comfort in knowing her hope and her joy. I also cherish that I have her words to remind me of her daily. However, it’s also been a good distraction because publishing a book is a lot of work. In a way, it has helped my mind to not wander and to keep me focused on sharing Jenna with the world. I’m not certain if that has delayed some of the grieving process, but I’m sure that more is still to come.”

Henderson, who is an executive and business coaching with Focalpoint Business Coaching and owner of the company publishing Jenna’s book, Distressed Roots, LLC, met the love of his life at Timber Wolf Lake, a Young Life camp in 2010.

“We were both Young Life leaders,” he recalled. “I was leading students in Batesville, Ind., while she was there with kids from Lexington, Ky. We had mutual friends who introduced us and from there is history. I proposed to Jenna (flew to Disney World and proposed to her in front of Cinderella’s Castle) in May 2012. We were married in Lexington six months later on Sept. 15, 2012.”

The daughter of Roy and Sondra Gilfedder (her stepmother) and Karen Gilfedder, Jenna went to high school in northern Kentucky. She later went to college at the University of Kentucky where she studied nursing. After we were married in September 2012, she got a job at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the oncology department.

“She was also an incredible photographer as she ran Jenna Nicole Photography,” he said.

The book, Henderson said, is available: Online at www.WorthTheSuffering.com; in Greenville at Bread of Life; in Cincinnati at Joseph Beth Booksellers in Rookwood; in Batesville, at four locations.

Cost of the book is $15.99 plus tax if applicable (I don’t charge Ohio sales tax since I am in Indiana),” he said. “You can read more of Jenna’s story at https://www.worththesuffering.com/about and you can watch a video of Jenna sharing about why she loved Young Life here :https://vimeo.com/209744376 . You can also watch a video of how I decided to move forward with life after she passed away here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKvYBtGW4JM .”

Jenna’s story was also featured on television and that can be seen at http://local12.com/news/local/husband-publishes-book-of-late-wifes-journal .

“It was overwhelming to be able to share my story with the Cincinnati community,” he said. “I am thankful for the incredible response that it generated, but more importantly, the way Jenna’s book/story will impact those who now get to read it. I also wrote a blog post for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalitionat http://ovarian.org/component/content/article/33-latest-nocc-updates/473-in-sickness-and-in-health

He concluded: “There is always so much to say about how lucky I was to be married to Jenna. She was sweet, soft-spoken, bold in her faith, and loved people well. It is an honor to still be able to love and serve Jenna even now through this book. She has taught me how to love, how to serve, and how to let go and focus on the one thing that lasts, my relationship with Jesus.”

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