In October of 2016, I sat next to my wife and held her hand as she took her last breath in this world. It was her fourth battle against this unrelenting disease—twice in high school and twice in her late twenties. Her fight with ovarian cancer was finally over, but my fight and my new shattered reality were just beginning.
From the beginning, our story together seemed magical. We met each other in 2010 at our favorite summer camp where we were both volunteer Young Life leaders from different areas. After two years of long-distance dating, I flew to Orlando and surprised her with an engagement ring at Disney World in front of Cinderella’s castle. Six months later, Jenna became my bride as we exchanged our vows on a picture-perfect horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky.
Life with Jenna was everything I thought it was supposed to be. Our life was full of adventure. A shared mission together. A marriage where we tried to love and serve each other well. Life had a wholeness to it that words just can’t explain.
When Jenna started to feel shooting pain in her lower abdomen, we both knew our lives were changed. The peace from 13 years of remission was gone in an instant and her ovarian cancer had returned. I watched Jenna fight this disease with so much confidence, so much joy, and so much hope, that I really never even questioned the outcome. Six months after treatment was over, life started to settle into our new normal. But it didn’t last because the cancer soon returned, and it was more aggressive than ever.
As cancer rapidly progressed, I finally began to understand the meaning behind our vows “in sickness and in health; until we are separated by death.” My heart was torn and my life was shattered. To serve and love Jenna as she became weaker and more fragile became my main focus. How I wish I had the opportunity to run errands for her now, to make the bed with her, or to do a countless number of other things that many husbands grumble about.
My part in this is not over and our story is not finished. I want my vows to Jenna to extend beyond death and reflect the truth of the everlasting life we both have all our hope in. Shortly after her death, I felt prompted to share her story. This was to be one of the ways I could still love her and serve her. The book Worth the Suffering captures her hope, her joy, and her peace through her cancer. It cements her legacy.
I was never a big fan of Valentine’s Day. I remember asking Jenna, “Why is it the world tells me I have to love you more today than every other day?” I get it now. I wish I had then. It was a day carved out to celebrate love. A bonus “date night.” An extra; we get to spend quality time together in an otherwise bu
sy week. Oh, how I long to share this day with her again.
About Scott Henderson
Scott Henderson is the husband of Jenna Henderson. Through his company Distressed Roots, he has compiled Jenna's writings and published her book Worth the Suffering. Scott has been a Young Life leader in Southeast Indiana for 11 years and plans to continue sharing Jenna's story for the foreseeable future. You can learn more about Jenna and her story through ovarian cancer at www.worththesuffering.com