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Life Is Good No Matter What: Local woman receives respite during cancer fight

Aaron Krause • Oct 21, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Crystal Jensen has Stage IV breast cancer, which has spread to a lung, her liver, a rib and her femur.

The 30-year-old Willard resident has been undergoing chemotherapy since Aug. 19. The treatment has caused nausea, vomiting, weakness and hair loss.

“I’m fighting my battle,” Jensen said matter-of-factly.

But this week, the battle isn’t at the forefront of her mind. She’s been able to, with her boyfriend, Joe, concentrate on enjoying The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, the Greater Cleveland Acquarium, the Ritz Carlton Hotel and Morton’s the Steakhouse.

Jensen’s been able to do all this thanks to Life Is Good No Matter What, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing adults with advanced cancer a respite from their ordeal.

Akron resident Troy Haslinger started the organization in memory of his late sister, Milan resident Holly Ann (Haslinger) Sneider,  who died Nov. 12, 2011 at age 39 after a battle with metastatic cancer. Haslinger said his sister learned her cancer returned while she vacationed at Hilton Head Island, S.C. She never had the chance to enjoy a respite from the devastating news.

While Haslinger sat by his sister's deathbed, he promised her he would do something to give cancer patients a diversion. Sneider's eyes "lit up" when he informed her of his plans, he said.

The organization LIfe Is Good No Matter What, which had always been Sneider’s motto, was thus born.

The organization’s goal is to grant people with advanced cancer an escape from their symptoms and anxiety about their illness.

“I think it's something very nice that they do,” said the daughter of Marie and Ken Jensen.

The organization raises money through, in part, the Milan Holly Run, comprising a Fun Run and 5K. This year, the Fun Run will take place at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 and the 5K at 10:30 a.m. on the square in Milan.

At 5:30 a.m. that morning, a relay from Akron to Milan will begin, escorted by troopers from the state Highway Patrol. Fifty runners will participate, honoring the 36 people who’ve received respites and their families, Haslinger said.

“It’s going to be pretty extraordinary,” he said. “We are growing by leaps and bounds.”

Last year, the Milan Holly Run drew more than 650 runners and raised more than $50,000 for the charity. This year, organizers hope to attract more than 800 runners, said Sneider’s close frirend, Dawn Shover.

To register, visit www.hollyrunmilan.itsyourrace.com. Food and beverages will be available and the band Honeycreek will perform. For more information, or to register, call Shover at 419-499-4840. 

“I loved her like a sister,” Shover said about Sneider.

Thanks to Life Is Good No Matter What, Jensen said she’s been able to put her disease out of her mind to an extent.

By this year’s end, 38 people, including Jensen, will have received a respite, Haslinger said.

On Wednesday, Jensen and her boyfriend visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

“It's great,” she said. “There are so many awesome things here to see and look at.”

Jensen said she enjoyed the Elvis Presley and Pink Floyd exhibits the best, adding that in the 90s she visited Graceland, the “Home of Elvis Presley,” according to its website. He’s buried underneath the grounds.

Jensen’s voice didn’t betray anxiety about her illness during a phone interview.

Jensen said she doesn’t have a family history of breast cancer. She learned she had the disease after she accidentally bumped into something at work and a lump formed around the cancer in her left breast.

“It is scary, but it's something i have to fight,” she said.

Jensen said her doctor is optimistic that her cancer can go into remission.

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