Jen joined her welcome home party in Heaven

Thank you for your support.  Here is the obituary we are posting to the paper.  Thank you.

Jen is survived by the most amazing son she could ask for, Corbin age 6; an incredibly loving and emotionally generous family; parents Fred and Nancy Arnold; brother Eric (Christy) Arnold; and sister Sara (Noah) Hurst. Jen is also survived by her nephew Jaxson Arnold, an extended family in Ohio, and truly countless friends throughout the United States. Jen was preceded in death by her grandparents, Bob and Marcille Sinclair; uncle, John Sinclair; and cousins Leah Arnold and Dusty Schwendeman. Jen was also preceded in death by countless friends who were also diagnosed with breast cancer.

After graduating from Champaign Central High School in 1995, Jen traveled from one end of the state (SIUC) to the other (UIC) to earn her bachelor and master degrees in social work. Jen always had a desire to help others. This passion grew as she volunteered on 6 different mission trips with the Appalachia Service Project and Operation Hogar, both through Faith United Methodist Church where she was an active member. Jen had a strong faith and wore it proudly having a cross supporting a pink ribbon tattooed on her foot as a reminder that God was with her every step of her journey.

A social worker by education, Jen spent almost 10 years working with students as an advisor and advocate at Parkland College. In each job Jen had at Parkland, she was the first in that position, using her strengths to shape and mold them into a successful career. As the Student Development Advocate to the Title III Director to the Student Services Advisor, Jen’s dedication to her students was clear. In addition to working directly with students, Jen was a key figure in the Parkland Pathway to Illinois program. She also envisioned and led the “It’s a Parkland Thing” ad campaign featuring local student athletes.

Jen’s zest for life was unsurpassed. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 30, she didn’t let her diagnosis define her even when the cancer returned and spread. Due to her passion for education, understanding and awareness, Jen shared her own personal story to educate others and their friends and families who might also be struggling with the same disease. Jen helped to launch the Champaign-Urbana affiliate of Young Survival Coalition, a national organization for young women facing breast cancer, and was a member of its Leadership Council. Jen helped educate, empower, and support hundreds of young women diagnosed with this disease through speaking at high school and college classes as well as national conferences; writing a blog and two books and mentoring many women one-to-one through Imerman Angels.

Jen was a fiercely loyal friend. Her family and friends joked that Jen couldn’t go somewhere without running in to someone she knew as she was such a social butterfly. Jen radiated compassion, warmth, and integrity with everyone she came into contact with and continuously added so much value to her friendships and received so much love in return.

Jen received many awards including the “Central Illinois Business 40 Under 40,” the “Illini Radio Group’s 20 Outstanding Women You Should Know,” “Chambana Moms To Know,” and was inducted in to the Parkland College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011 as the athletic contributor. Most recently named a 2013 Pink Power Mom. Jen was also a “giver” and donate 789 ounces of breast milk to the International Breast Milk Project which provides breast milk to critically ill infants around the world. Jen surprised everyone when she published her memoir “Learning to Live Legendary” to capture the magical year of 2011. Jen continued to educate others about the reality of metastatic breast cancer when she wrote and published, “What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient.” She considered her most important “award” her son, Corbin.

Visitation will be held on Saturday, October 5th from 4 pm to 7 pm and a Celebration of Life service will be held at Sunday, October 6th at 2 pm. Both will be held at Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 South Prospect Avenue, Champaign, IL 61820.

The family is compiling a memory book for Corbin; please send your memories and pictures to Memorials may be directed to either the Corbin Smith Fund at First Federal Savings Bank, 1912 West Springfield Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821 or the Imerman Angels organization which provides one-to-one cancer support at 205 W. Randolph, 19th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606.

  1. Cheri Reply

    Thoughts and prayers go out to your entire family. May God wrap his arms around each of one you and help you during this time.

  2. Sue Ann Reply

    Jen will be greatly missed. She was an outstanding niece, mother, daughter, aunt and a friend to many people.
    We will never forget her.

  3. Julie Turkey Reply

    Dear Jen
    I am so sad that this has happened but you are free from pain now in heaven which I am sure is even more beautiful with you in it.
    God Bless to Corbin and your family and rest in peace. Thank you for helping me to understand how to live legendary. With all my love xxx

  4. Rebecca Reply

    Jen was an amazing woman. Our prayers are with you all, and especially Corbin.

  5. Janice Reply

    Rest in peace — love to your family from Canada xo

  6. Amanda Reply

    Jen, much love to you and yours.

  7. Wanda Crouse Reply

    Your time to rest in peace — truly, heavenly peace, Jen.

  8. lisa adams Reply

    I am so very sad… Jen was a shining light and I loved and respected her so much. We connected after my own metastatic breast cancer diagnosis last year. The interview she gave on my blog a few weeks ago ( ) was very special. I know it was one of the last things she wrote in depth. I will never forget her. Or Corbin. I would like to extend my condolences to her family and friends at this time. I am jealous you knew her for so much longer than I did, and so sad we all did not have more years with her.

  9. Gloria Reply

    Rest in peace sweet Jen. You truly lived legendary and touched the lives of so many.

  10. Hanna Reply

    Another beautiful, bright angel now watches from above. Thank you for living legendary, indeed, Jen.

  11. Sally Pleasant Reply

    Amen and Amen. Love and prayers to all.

  12. Mac Reply

    Deep sadness for losing Jen. Is there a trust being set up for Corbin? His mom was so special to me, and everyone who read her book.

  13. Christine Reply

    My condolences to Jen’s family and a special prayer to her precious son Corbin. I have known for a short time, but in that time Jen inspired and touched my heart with her beautiful smile, zest for life, and her courage. I will always remember her and keep her memory close to my heart.

    Many prayers and thoughts to all of you, her blessed family.

  14. Amy Reply

    “Go forth in peace, for you have followed the good road. Go forth without fear, for he that created you has sanctified you, has always protected you, and loves you as a mother. Blessed be God, for having created me.” St. Clare of Assisi

    I am crying today for your loss and Corbin’s. I hope there is comfort in the knowledge that she is at peace, but I ache for your pain. I pray that you are surrounded by love and care and that you will be comforted whenever you need comfort.

  15. AnneMarie Reply

    My heart is broken. Like so many, I only knew Jen because we connected via social media. I’d like to think we had a special bond, forged by common ideas. I am so saddened that Jen is no longer here. My deepest condolences to all who loved Jen and most especially to Corbin. Too many children are growing up with memories where their mom’s arms should be. I’m so sorry.

  16. Carla Reply

    Peace to Jen’s family and friends… and peace to Jen’s memory.

  17. Nan Eisenmenger Reply

    Though her time here was much too short, God gave Jen a very special purpose and she fulfilled it with grace, compassion and flying colors. She has touched countless lives and earned her place in Heaven. I can never thank her enough for all that she shared and sacrificed for others while still being the most amazing mother to sweet Corbin.
    My prayers are with Corbin, all the family and loved ones now and as you move forward day to day.

  18. Bethany Kandel Reply

    There are no words……sadness beyond compare. The only bright side is that she left such a wonderful legacy for her son who will always know how much she loved him and fought to stay with him for as long as she did. Living Legendary! Jen did it beautifully. She will so be missed by so many; even those who never met her. My condolences to her whole family.

  19. Zoe Kharpertian Reply

    We were all gifted with Jen; she changed each of our lives, and the ripples of her influence and love will continue long after these difficult days of mourning are past. She was a profoundly important young woman, and she did what she was called to do with focus and determination, for our good, for her family’s and most of all for Corbin’s. She taught us how to live. Thank you, Jen. May your great love and spirit continue to radiate upon us.

  20. Karen Flynn Reply

    My love to all of Jen’s family..may God’s peace be with you. Karen

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