By Kelli Grant
Published: November 25, 2009, 10:07 PM
A 19-year-old KELOLAND woman made a decision many of us may never want to make or even could make. She decided to stop cancer treatments after hope for a cure slipped away. But she didn't want her passing to fill her family with sadness, so she left them a gift at her funeral.
She had her entire life in front of her when the words osteosarcoma stopped everything in its tracks.
“I was running cross country my sophomore year and I had a big swelling in my knee and we just thought, the doctors just thought it was from bones rubbing together. We didn't do anything about it until the spring,”Amy Jensen said.
It was then doctors found the tumor and it was then she made the decision to have her leg amputated from the knee down.
“I don't look at this as a negative thing. I try to look at everything toward the positive,” Amy said.
She's talking about losing her leg but she's also talking about losing the battle with cancer. Amy's cancer spread to her lungs, her spine, her brain.
When we met her in late August, she knew the end was near but had one more thing to do.
“I more or less want my family to know that everything's going to be OK and everything happens for a reason,” Amy said.
So she left each one a message through legacy videos.
“I don't plan on making these videos sad in anyway. I don't look at it as being sad. I more want it to be happy. And the same with my funeral. I plan on everything being more happy geared towards,” Amy said.
“We always made the joke that she was the one that held all of us up when, through the bad things,” Amy's sister Crystal Claybaugh said.
And even though Amy died just over a month ago, on October 23, her family says she showed courage to the end.
“She was never afraid to die. She was more afraid that we'd forget her,” Crystal said.
But Amy's smile won't let them forget, her memory won't let them and these videos she left for each of them certainly won't either.
“First I'll start with Crystal. Oh Crystal, what makes me happiest when I'm with you is…” Amy said while recording a video.
“It was neat. I mean seeing my sister after she's been gone. The stories that she told. It was great,” Crystal said.
Amy's older sister watched her video in private, just as Amy requested.
“I laughed and cried. She was Amy. I laughed a lot. She told a lot of stories that made me laugh and then she told me the things that she liked about me. Then told me her favorite memories and then what she hopes for us in our life,” Crystal said.
“I probably waited 3 days, just to, I needed the strength,” Amy's sister Jill Gifford said.
Amy's sister, Jill, called her little sister the rock; the one who kept the family strong through her own illness. And these videos, each one different, are only reinforcing that strength.
“She always thought of it as a celebration of life. Her going to heaven and everything she put on the video was just happy,” Jill said.
When Amy sat down to make the videos a few months ago, she paid special attention to a message for her little brother.
“There's a lot for my little brother ‘cause he's still in high school and has a lot to accomplish,” Amy said.
Seventeen-year-old Nathan calls this special gift his closure.
“It was kind of hard when I put in the DVD at first to see her. But I was really happy and it was a relief to see her and to know that I can put it in and watch it whenever I want to,” Nathan said.
For Amy, it's a mission accomplished.
“I think they're probably expecting more of it to be geared towards a sentimental thing; they're not. They're more funny and outgoing and silly. So hopefully it will be something they can turn around and watch and make them happy. When the time comes, when they need it,” Amy said.
A life well lived, that one each member of her family can hold on to.
Amy's mom and dad also got videos, as well as her boyfriend, her child life specialist and her doctor at Sanford Children’s Hospital.
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