My mom, Nancy Jean Jahncke Herbert, lost her 13-year battle with sarcoma on July 31, 2012. She had been a preschool teacher, and nothing made her happier than being in her classroom. She adored her students and always came home with the best stories. This picture of her at school is one of my favorites. She was still relatively healthy. When her health made it impossible to continue teaching, she did literacy training and volunteered to do one-to-one English as a Second Language tutoring for adults even while she was undergoing various cancer treatments.
The same woman who would plan rides home from college on a Friday and then not plan rides back to campus at the end of the weekend ended up traveling the world. She was an army wife for 25 years, from the day she married my dad until the day he retired. She loved the beach, the Beatles, slapstick humor, homegrown tomatoes, Starbucks, and most of all her friends and family.
Her cancer appeared my senior year of high school, and every experience after that existed in its shadow. As an adult myself, I never got to know her as a healthy person. A friend took this picture of my mom and me together outside our family’s hometown in rural northwestern Illinois. It was several years into her long illness, but it was a good day. I like to imagine that that’s what our lives could have been like.
This April 27 would have been her 70th birthday.
I participate in the Sarcoma Stomp and the Race to Cure Sarcoma because I want to help fund research so that someday another family won’t have to experience this loss.