One of our valued community members, Jen Sotham, passed away on Nov. 9. Jen was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma in 2014, but that did not prevent her from living out her dreams and having her voice heard through film
, blogging, a TED talk and contributing to CURE® —
in print and on the web.
Jen, 43, was a New Yorker, but had also recently spent nearly a decade living and working in Busan, South Korea. She was a writer and musician who had taught composition and conversation at the university level.
Some of her most popular recent articles include “A Life Less Cancery
,” a personal essay about postponing treatments to accommodate life’s special moments, which she wrote this August as part of CURE®
’s online contributor Voices program. “Defining Cancer Survivorship
” was published in our fall print issue, and for our spring issue, Jen wrote “Life Redefined: Living Well With Metastatic Cancer
,” an article full of advice and resources for people, like her, with metastatic cancer.
Jen also offered a vibrant voice on social media, connecting with others who had cancer. In fact, she was a co-moderator for our January 2017 tweet chat, titled “The Community of Cancer and the Language They Use
.” In a blog post before the chat, she said, “I'm so curious to hear what words other cancer patients find to be either taboo or helpful, to learn about other people's approach to communicating about cancer so that I can fine-tune my own, to connect to my newfound community.”
Jen’s sister, Ariel, reached out to CURE®
staff with the sad news. She wrote, “I wanted to let you know that my beautiful sister Jen passed away on Thursday night. She was very peaceful. Sharing her words was her true purpose in life and I cannot thank you enough for giving her that opportunity to do so. Knowing she made such a difference in this world is a true gift.”
"It truly is such a loss, not only for our family, but for so many. People have reached out directly to Jen in the last few days saying they didn’t know her but wanted to thank her for her words and sharing her story. It means so much to us to know the impact Jen has had on the world. She was the bravest woman I’ve ever known and I am so blessed to have had her as a sister. We are so incredibly proud."
It was an honor to have worked with Jen and share her down-to-earth and utterly real essays about her experiences with cancer, her talent as a journalist and her enthusiasm for every project she took on. She made the best out of a bad situation through her work, which touched hundreds of thousands of readers.
“I don’t want to spend my precious time in mourning,” she wrote in a September 2016 blog post
. “If this forced transition (into life with cancer) is new territory, then I’m going to explore it. And dammit, I’m gonna find its hidden treasures.”
On Nov. 8, Jen wrote a final post
on her personal blog, Jen vs. Cancer, in which she said she was practicing acceptance as she faced her last days, and wanted everyone to interpret that as “optimism, not pessimism.”
Jen considered herself the victor in her battle against the disease.
“Take that, cancer. I beat you…” she wrote. “I made it to the end with a smile on my face and a song in my heart.”
To reach out to Jen's family with condolences or share a favorite memory, readers can email firstname.lastname@example.org.