Her future was bright in 2007 as she prepared for graduation and the fall semester at Texas A&M University. But a diagnosis of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, changed Jennifer’s life in an instant.
As an athlete, Jennifer learned to ignore the occasional aches and pains associated with competition. But in December 2006, she noticed the pain in one of her legs wasn’t going away. In fact, it became more intense.
“Sometimes the symptoms aren’t very strong,” says Mary Haynie, Jennifer’s mother. “You don’t think it’s anything serious.”
Doctors at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital determined the cancer had spread to Jennifer’s lungs. Over the next year she underwent radiation therapy, two lung surgeries and monthly chemotherapy.
In April 2008, Jennifer and her family faced the devastating news that the cancer had continued to spread. Jennifer succumbed to the disease the following month.
Mary’s sisters, a source of inspiration and support, encouraged her to continue the fight against osteosarcoma. To honor her daughter’s spirit, Mary decided to create the Haynie Spirit Bone Cancer Foundation.
“We had such an outpouring of support from friends and family that we thought we needed to turn that into something practical that we could use,” she says.
In May 2010, the foundation held its first fundraising event, the Haynie Spirit Festival and BBQ Fundraiser. Buoyed by an overwhelming turnout, they planned another fundraiser, the December 2010 Haynie Spirit Bone Cancer Foundation Galveston SeaWalk.
Later that month, the Haynie Spirit Bone Cancer Foundation presented Jennifer’s physician, Peter M. Anderson, M.D., professor in the Department of Pediatrics, with a $10,000 check. The unrestricted funds will support Anderson’s research and help meet the financial needs of osteosarcoma patients and their families.
“It’s people like Jennifer who inspire us,” says Anderson. “Her spirit is still with us in many, many ways.”
The second annual Haynie Spirit Festival and BBQ Fundraiser, held in May, raised more than $8,000 to support the fight against osteosarcoma.
“We’re going to continue to honor Jennifer, remember her and at the same time raise money to fight this horrible disease,” says Mary.