Two months ago, September…
Jenny Vracin (née Close) (38), her husband Nick (40), and their two kids - Owen (10) and Avery (8) - were reflecting on how happy they are living in their tiny house in Northern Washington and starting to make plans for Winter holidays. Jenny was also reflecting on the tiny bump in her breast that was just diagnosed as a benign cyst and thinking that she needs to schedule a follow up appointment. What followed was a nightmarish string of tests, each producing results worse than the previous one: “it’s not a cyst but a cancerous growth”… “it has spread to lymph nodes”… “we found five cancer growths in your neck, spine, and pelvis”...
Diagnosis and treatment
The latest scan and a subsequent biopsy confirmed that masses found in Jenny’s bones are metastases, and her cancer is now classified as Stage IV non-curable Metastatic Cancer. Given the extremely aggressive nature of the disease, treatments are beginning immediately. As the first step, Jenny has started hormonal therapy. The first of many powerful chemo sessions will begin next week. This will be followed by radiation, double mastectomy surgery, and experimentation with cancer drugs. We don’t know how any of these treatments will work and doctors are hesitant to give us a definitive outlook. What we do now know for sure is that this is going to be a fight for Jenny’s life.
As if that wasn’t enough, Owen’s seizures came back
When Jenny was pregnant with Owen, he suffered a stroke in utero. This was not discovered until Owen was born and started suffering from seizures and a loss of function in the left hand and foot. After three years of exhausting every treatment option available to them, Jenny and Nick had no choice but to agree to a major brain surgery for Owen, during which the entire right side of his brain was removed. By all accounts, the surgery was a huge success, and Owen has all but forgotten about his seizures. Until now. “When it rains, it pours” they say, and while Jenny was in the middle of her diagnostic tests, Owen’s seizures came back. The full extent of his condition is yet to be determined, but judging from the past, this will also be a difficult and expensive road. Owen will be seen by a group of specialists in Seattle within the next few weeks. The two surgeries that he had scheduled for correcting some of the hand and foot functions will have to be put on hold for now…
Nobody expects the worst
Less than 5% of women under the age of 40 are diagnosed with breast cancer. Nobody is ever expecting it, and nobody ever is prepared for dealing with it.
Jenny and Nick are no different. Just a year ago, they decided to dedicate themselves to a self-sustaining lifestyle, sold their house in Bend, and built a temporary tiny 200 sq ft house on a plot of land they bought in Methow Valley in Northern Washington away from the hustle and bustle. Kids were adjusting to their school. Jenny continued to do her part-time medical billing from home. And Nick, a highly talented artist and leather craftsman, has been making improvements to their house in between traveling to various trade shows and fairs where he sold most of his creations.
What seemed like an idyllic place for a new start, is now turning into an extremely challenging situation. Nearest meaningful medical facility is in Wenatchee, 2 hours away. Seattle is 4 hours away in another direction. Nick will no longer be able to go to trade shows, so his business has been put on hold. And while Jenny is able to continue keeping her part-time job, this will get progressively more difficult as the side-effects of chemo start rearing their ugly heads.
Nobody is ever expecting or is prepared for dealing with devastating news, and now all Jenny and Nick can do is try to react to the rapidly evolving landscape of their lives in any way they can.
are the critical in helping Jenny and her family have a chance in this fight. And it’s not going to be an easy one by any means. The physical and emotional toll that this will take on all four of them will be immeasurable. And between travels to and extended stays for treatment in Wenatchee and Seattle for both Jenny and Owen, loss of income for both Nick and Jenny, and expenses not covered by insurance, they are looking at a significant financial burden as well. Our hope with this campaign is to try to remove, or at least, lessen the impact they will feel from this financial hurdle.
Beyond the money, our hope is to help lift Jenny’s spirits. She will have access to this page and will be able to read all your comments, so please share your stories, memories, and well wishes on this page as well.
Personal Note about Jenny
Jenny has been my best friend and my “person” for the last 27 years. We met at the age of ten playing basketball, softball, and volleyball for North Medford club teams. Throughout the years our personal paths have taken different routes, but we have only grown closer. Together we have supported each other through all the big milestones of our lives (dating, marriage, kids, etc.). She is the person I turn to through all my ups and downs. I’ve always relied on her heartfelt advise and to call me out on my shortcomings. I am so heartbroken about this news and prepared to do all I can to fight this battle with her.
Growing up, Jenny was a spectacular three sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, and softball) for the mighty North Medford High School, Black Tornado, where she helped the softball team win 2 state titles. She then continued her softball career at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon and went on to earn her massage license at EastWest Massage School in Portland.
Jenny is the most positive, loving and sincere person I know. She has always been incredibly active, healthy, and full of life. Anyone that knows her would agree that she is a person whose presence brightens the room and radiates positive energy. An amazing mother, Jenny is spending significant amount of time thinking about their family, prioritizing their modest means toward making sure the kids are growing up happy, healthy, and most importantly, kind human beings (which they most definitely are). Together with Nick, to whom she has been married for the last 13 years, they make one incredible family unit. The love they share for each other is deep and beautiful, I know it will carry them through this ordeal. I hope that our collective support will help lighten that burden.
I know there are many people out there that have been touched by Jenny and her family and want to stay informed. It will be difficult for them to respond personally to everyone, so this page is meant to keep you all informed. I will continue staying in constant contact with Jenny and provide updates on this platform. If you have any specific questions or concerns and want to private message me, please feel free to contact me through facebook messenger or my personal e-mail at [email redacted].
- Austin Kingsley
- Jane Cusick
- Daniel Osborne
Organizer and beneficiary
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