By AMANDA KIMBLE
Writers note: I first met the subject of this story in 2011. Through the years we remained friends. Our bond grew over the last year, as we communicated through late-night chats. Our conversations were sometimes intimate. Jenny Carney spoke endearingly of her family and candidly about her life and mortality.
GAINESVILLE (February 10,2016) – It was a battle Jenny Bethel Carney never expected to win. Despite a courageous fight against a rapidly spreading form of breast cancer, she succumbed to the illness Monday at the age of 38.
Her life ended on her own terms, surrounded by loved ones. Jenny had stopped treatments and spent her final days on hospice care. The frequent trips to the hospital had become exhausting.
The hope for survival had faded. But Jenny’s light burned bright until the very end. She was weak, but every ounce of strength in her body remained focused on her family and her love for them.
“I know I have stage four triple-negative breast cancer, and I know where I’m going, and I’m at peace with that,” Jenny told the Gainesville Daily Register during an October 2015 interview for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
While the Carneys had been residents of Gainesville for about two years, Jenny and her family – husband, Aaron, and daughters, Katie and Ashley – were at the heart of the community. Moving to Cooke County, things were going well. Jenny’s two children, Katie, 12, and Ashley, 9, quickly adjusted to their new life.
Even as she could feel her final days approaching, Jenny remained strong and so did her children. She and Aaron, her parents and his, and everyone close to her were intent on ensuring Katie and Ashley were living a normal life and living it to the fullest.
“My girls are thriving at school and in their extracurricular activities,” Jenny said in the Register interview.
The family was a happy one. But their lives hadn’t been the same since December 2014, when Jenny was diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than a month later, she learned the disease was very aggressive and rapidly spreading. And then the stage four-triple negative diagnosis.
Newfound friends and neighbors rallied around them, holding fundraisers, cooking meals and encouraging Jenny throughout her battle.
Meanwhile, friends, former neighbors and former coworkers back in Erath County, where they previously lived, were also offering support and prayers. Jenny had worked as a local investigator with Texas Department of Family and Protective Services prior to their move. Aaron had been a deputy with the Erath County Sheriff’s Office and served a stint on the Dublin City Council.
Early in her battle, Jenny underwent chemotherapy and radiation. Still the disease, which was already in her spine, lymph nodes, pelvis, ribs and bones spread into her liver and brain. She described the pain as unbearable, but focused her attention on enjoying every possible moment.
“I cherish each day,” she said the last time she spoke with me. “We are taking a day at a time, but being realistic. We’re prearranging my funeral.”
For those she leaves behind, there is pain in parting. For Aaron, it’s the loss of the love of his life. The couple had only been together for three short years. February 20 will mark one year since he adopted Jenny’s youngest daughter, Ashley.
“Aaron and the whole family are an unspeakable blessing,” Jenny said to me February 2, 2015. “I love him more than my own life, and I hate that he’s stuck with a sick wife. But he’s my rock and my angel.”
Her family will receive visitors Thursday, exactly a year after Jenny’s first round of chemotherapy, at Meador Funeral Home in Gainesville. Funeral services will be held 2 p.m. Friday at Calvary Baptist Church in Gainesville, followed by graveside services in Collinsville.
Despite her short and painful struggle, Jenny, with her vibrant smile would have a little advice to offer as family and friends as they prepare to say a final farewell.
“I don’t want them to hurt,” she said. “I want them to remember the good times and the love we shared.”
Carney’s obituary can be found on The Flash’s obits page.