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Planned gift provides hope for others

Planned gift provides hope for others

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Jenny Marie Johnson was a University of Texas alumna and licensed master social worker pursuing her doctorate when she became ill. Photo courtesy of Barbara Johnson

By Michelle Moore

In 2003, Barbara and Darrel Johnson received the worst news any parent could ever hear. Their 28-year-old daughter, Jenny Marie Johnson, was diagnosed with stage 3 sarcomatoid renal cell carcinoma, a rare, aggressive form of kidney cancer.

Barbara, a retired teacher; Darrel, an ordained Lutheran minister; and their son Clint, then a Rice University football player, were devastated.

“As her life drew to an end, we knew we wanted to establish a fund that would be used specifically for research on Jenny’s particular type of cancer,” says her mother.  

When planning their will, the Johnsons created a trust to establish the Jenny Marie Johnson Memorial Fund for Kidney Cancer Research at MD Anderson.   

“Jenny loved her family and friends, and they were with her to the very end of her life ― some even had an impromptu slumber party in her room in palliative care,” says Barbara, who has saved dozens of emails praising Jenny’s courage and character.

The Johnsons drew strength from family, friends and faith. They even befriended a family from Turkey whose daughter also was going through treatment. At the end of it all, their motivation for giving was simple.

“We continue to pray and have hope that Jenny’s death will in some way give others life,” says Barbara.

Learn about planned giving and view a video at

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center