My Story: Cancer, Twins, Loss, and Love

I was seven months pregnant when Justin, my husband was admitted to the hospital because of cancer complications. Things were not looking good and we weren’t sure he would make it to the twins birth. We never stopped fighting and never gave up hope! Miraculously he made it to their birth and was able to spend a couple months with the them before he sadly passed away. Those last 5 years had extreme highs and lows. Here is my story. 

Our Love Story

Justin and I grew up together. We were friends in high school and even closer friends in college. He always had a crush on me, but I wanted to be just friends. Justin moved to Germany for two years to serve a church mission. Towards the end of his mission we wrote each other more frequently and I started to like him more than just a friend. He got home and we went on a couple dates, but for some reason the timing still felt off. Seven months later I decided to serve a church mission. I moved to upstate New York and lived there for the next 18 months.

Colorado Wedding and Event Photography

After I got home we slowly started to talk again. Finally our timing aligned, and we started to date. We were married in May 2013, and I couldn’t have been happier with the way my life had turned out. It was easy marrying my best friend.  It felt so right, and we were so happy.

See more pictures of our wedding day HERE


We had only been married two months when Justin started complaining about bad chest pain. It kept getting worse so he decided to get it checked out. It felt like the room was moving in slow motion when I heard the word cancer come out of the doctors mouth. How could this be happening? We were just about to start our lives together.

No one is ever prepared for something like cancer and I always thought it happened to other people, but not me. My anxiety quickly took control and my mind went to worst case scenario.

A couple days after we were given the news we decided it would be best to move back to Colorado to be closer to family. My parents lived 15 minutes from the hospital and we thought that it would be best to do treatment there. This was not how I had imagined my first year of marriage to be. Our lives were turned completely upside down.

Justin had a form of testicular cancer with a tumor the size of a rugby ball in his chest. They did full body scans and blood work right away. We were thrilled to find out that the cancer had not spread to the rest of his body. The plan now was to do chemotherapy to kill off the cancer cells and end with a big surgery to remove the tumor. We were told he had a very good chance of survival, so that kept our hopes up.

He endured four months of intense inpatient chemotherapy to stop the cancer from growing. The first week went okay, but as he got further into treatments the harder it got and the more depressed he became. Those were some of the hardest days of my life having to watch him go through something so difficult.

My Chemo Care Package List

We were thrilled the chemotherapy was working! His numbers got better each week and that helped us stay hopeful. When chemo was over he had a major surgery to remove the tumor. As of that day he was cancer free! 

The dark cloud of despair and gloom dissipated. Justin had his life back, and we were ready to live it to the fullest. We moved back to Utah and started our lives together without cancer! Life was great!

It hadn’t even been one full year before they found a new tumor on a routine scan. Justin would go in every three months, but I knew by the look on his face, that this time was different.

My chest started to hurt and I found myself not being able to breathe. I remember later that evening just sobbing uncontrollably and screaming at the top of my lungs.  I was consumed with so much anger and sadness, I lost all hope. 

After taking some time to process what had just happened, I started to think about the first time Justin went through cancer. It was hope that got us through and helped us to keep going. I knew hope would help us to get through it again!

It was hard to accept that we were back in the world of cancer. The world of high anxiety, stress, and worry of the future. This new cancer was completely different from the first one. It was so rare they didn’t even have a name for it and there was one doctor in the country who had heard of it before. Things were looking very hopeless.

Justin became a lab rat as we tried to figure out what would beat this cancer. He started chemo right away, but this time it was different. He had already done chemo before so he knew what to expect and he was terrified. He got really depressed during that time and dreaded going to the hospital. Inpatient chemo really takes a toll on you mentally and physically.


I was balancing teaching full time and trying to take care of him. I would sleep at the hospital and then drive to work everyday. Life was extremely hard during this time.

After some time they were able to find an outpatient chemotherapy that, while it didn’t shrink the tumor, prevented it from growing. We were happy Justin didn’t have to spend the night in the hospital anymore to receive chemo. We were even happier they were able to find something to keep the cancer at bay. It was a tender mercy and Justin was happier when he wasn’t at the hospital.

Outpatient chemo treatment

Life started to move on, and we were able to live a semi-normal life again. Justin started working and going to school part-time. There were even times when we would forget he had cancer. We even went on some trips in-between chemo treatments. It wasn’t until his monthly scan, that we were pulled back to reality. For the most part we were happy and hope kept us going.

Our Pregnancy Journey (IVF)

Life started to calm down and it gave us time to really start thinking about starting a family. Cancer had already taken so much away from us. Instead of living in our newlywed home, we were living at hospitals. Instead of spending our free time hiking and climbing, Justin was hooked to IVs. But there was one thing we weren’t going to let cancer take from us, the chance to start a family. 


We started our in-vitro fertilization journey. It was not easy, but we knew it was our only chance to have kids. We decided to implant one embryo and we were thrilled when my blood test came back positive! Our dream of being parents was becoming reality.

My IVF care package list

When I was six weeks pregnant I went in for my first ultrasound. We were shocked when we found out that our one embryo had split into two. We were going to be parents of not only one little baby, but two. We were beyond excited!

Read more about our surprise twin reaction HERE

YouTube video

We were so excited to start preparing for our two new baby boys. Justin was still doing Chemotherapy every couple of weeks. He had his moments when he felt really sick, but he managed to still help me a little during my pregnancy. He would wake up early to give me my shots and leave me some food before going to work. He was amazing!

I had almost three months left in my pregnancy when Justin was admitted to the hospital. We thought he had a cold, but it kept getting worse and worse. The doctors weren’t sure what was causing it, but assumed it was the tumor.

There were days we almost lost him and I was in a really dark place during that time. The thought of losing him before the babies came was unbearable. When he was first admitted I prayed we would find a cure, but after a month in the hospital my prayers turned into hoping he could at least make it to their brith. I didn’t know if I would be strong enough to do it without him. 

The doctors were able to find an antibiotic to fight the infection related to the tumor. He was able to come home a month before the babies were born. But the month-long visit in the hospital had weakened him tremendously. He came home with oxygen and needed assistance to do the simplest task. Our goal for that final month was to help him walk longer distances and get his strength up so that he could be at the birth.

Twins Birth

A week before my due date, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia and had to be induced.  Miraculously, Justin’s strength had improved enough to be at the birth. He had to come in a wheelchair and with oxygen, but he was there. My delivery was hard, but hearing Justin’s faint voice saying, “Come on, Jenn, you can do this!” gave me all the strength I needed to keep going. I was filled with joy and excitement to see our babies.

You can read my full birth story HERE.

We brought the babies home five days later. We were so blessed to be able to be together as a family for a couple months. Justin was able to help feed the boys and read to them. I am so grateful for that time and I know the boys will be happy to see the pictures they have with him.

Sadly Justin passed away a couple months after the twins were born. Learning to navigate life without him has been extremely hard and I miss him so much! I do feel blessed for the time we did have with him. I didn’t think he would make it to see the boys so being able to see him with them meant so much to me.

You can read more about the day of the funeral HERE

I started this blog in hopes of helping others. I have written some of my thoughts and feeling since he has passed and you can read that HERE. I hope that by sharing my story it will help someone who is also struggling or feeling alone. I want you to know you are never alone! There is someone out there who knows what you are going through!

I also started a community where people have shared their stories of trials and hardship. You can read their stories HERE. I hope they will also help you in some way.

Subscribe to my blog below by entering your email. This way you can get updates on my life and read some of the Caravan Community stories!

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Justin’s T-shirts #gooutsideforjustin


  1. God does not give us more than we can handle, but I’m sure you feel like you wish he didn’t trust you so much with what he has handed you!!

    You are doing an amazing job and keeping Justin’s memory alive and sharing his story; your story – is something personal between you and Justin. No one can understand that what you two lived through, has made you who you are today.

    What a precious gift to be able to give to the boys one day. They will read this and they will know what an incredible journey you and Justin faced together and just what a miracle the boys are. They are your saving grace. 🙏🏻♥️🙏🏻

    1. With all due respect, Stephanie, “God does not give us more than we can handle” is NOT biblical. Unfortunately this has become a mantra in the Body of Christ and it needs to STOP. There is no verse in the Bible to support this. So many things in this life are way more than we can handle and by the grace of God, he gives us Jesus. Without him we can do nothing. It may seem helpful to say, but it’s trite. It is dismissive of the unbearably difficult reality someone experiences.

      1. Thank you for pointing this out Katie. I think you have to truly have been though pain and trauma to understand where you’re coming from. There have been many times when people have said to me phrases like this where i do believe they mean well BUT it is not a helpful thing to say and does come across as dismissive. Personally, going through the cancer process with my husband I don’t need to hear these sort of quick phrases that are almost cookie cutter…I needed GENUINE loving responses that were raw and uncut. I needed people to just be there in the awful mess that it was and love on me and say yes this SUCKS. It is hard for people to understand this point of view I think if they haven’t been through similar situations . I understand you!

      2. Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Thank you for making this clarification. I’ve seen many Christians telling using this phrase.

      3. It does in fact say The lord gives his toughest battles to his strongest warriors
        However this is not a time and place for you to express you not agreeing. DEFINITELY not the place

        1. Absolutely true! Even that doesn’t help someone struggling with unimaginable grief though. Sometimes they are at such a low point they just don’t feel God with them. As they learn to cope, and struggle to attain their new normal they may start to see Gods light again. It’s important to just love them where they are. They may not see the light right now, but they can feel the love when it is genuine. Prayers for peace and comfort every day is what I pray for you and your family, or anyone struggling right now! 🙏🏻

      4. Katie,
        With all due respect, please consider the strength in her comment. Yes. As a matter of fact, it is in God’s word. And it is meant for an encouragement. A promise, that we can cling to when we feel we cannot go on. You perceived this as a dismissal. I in no wise see it that way at all. If you could challenge your perception, you will see that God meant those words as a promise we would overcome the unbearable moments and we would with his grace push through.
        Please, assume good intentions for all people. God Bless!

        1. Yes, well said, Mandy. It was meant to be a comfort to Coco and not ‘dismissive’ but a strength to lean on. Too many people today choose to be offended, overthinking every word given. But as Terri pointed out, we are given the ‘Word’ in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God is faithful to us and won’t tempt us beyond what we can bear.

      5. I wish people would stop saying that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle…. it’s simply not true.

          1. Praying for you and your unbelievable strength
            you are truly god’s gift
            I wish you only the best and for being so strong for your husband and now for your sons
            You are an inspiration to all

      6. I agree with you Kathie, some things are beyond us. I lost my best friend to cancer on Thursday, October 20, 2022. He suffered for two years and his body could take no more.

      7. Are you effing serious? A person is going through a tough time, and some other person is giving them words of appreciation and you have to make it about you effing religion. You do know that GOD doesn’t just mean ‘christianity’ right? I’m a Hindu myself and it IS in Geetha that the hardest problems come to those who can face it. Now shut your mouth idiots!

    2. Love your kind words of encouragement! She is doing an amazing job! Sometimes we put more on ourselves than we should, but with Gods grace he doesn’t give us more than we can bear.
      In my hardest times, I have leaned on those very words and it gave me strength to push through knowing that with God I was going to make it through. For when you feel you cannot handle any more, you can hang on to that promise.
      I’m sorry that some people didn’t understand what you meant. We are all different and have different perceptions. I guess it was certainly a trigger for Katie, who knows what she has been through. But for me those are words of strength in so much that God almighty put it in his Word not to be dismissive but to remind of us that we will pull through and with him we will handle whatever we are faced. In the end, we win!

    3. I hate that saying, god won’t give us more than we can handle … im sorry I do, I know that comes from love and I love that love. I am in awe of what you have done with your lose and commend you for what you have done to help others, you are an AMAZING PERSON!!! I don’t know why bad things happen but god did not give this to you, maybe the strength to endure, maybe a place in heaven for your husband to watch over your family, but not the pain. He didn’t give it or let it, it just is

      1. God doesn’t give us trials..but he gives us the strength when we can’t go on any longer– he will step in at that point to help us endure…he knows our breaking point better than we do.im so sorry for anyone suffering the struggles that come with loss…We were not created to deal with sickness and death..we were Created to live forever..Satan and Adam and Eve tried to thwart God’s purpose..to no avail..it’s just posttponed,temporarily. God will make all things right…til then life can be extremely unfair and painful beyond imagination..it’s ok to get angry,it’s ok to be sad,it’s ok to yell at God if we feel like we need to..(he has strong shoulders,he knows what we are going through and why before we can even figure it out…).I’m glad you are finding a path for you and the twins..

  2. What an incredible story. I applaud you for your strength and faith. Your husband surely loved you and knew his boys would be taken care of in a great way. Beautiful little boys. I just started following you about a month ago. I love seeing them. Blessings to you

  3. Jennifer,
    I’m so sorry for what you’ve walked through. I weep when I try to imagine what you have experienced. Thank you for sharing this beautiful love story, your words will help many. I will be praying for you and those two miracles you are raising.

    {He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.‭‭} 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:4‬ ‭NLT‬‬

  4. I thought I had seen pain then I read your story it brought me to tears .. strength to your family for standing up again

  5. Your boys are beautiful and I admire your strength! I happened to stumble upon your Instagram account and I’m glad I did. I’m also a widow and a single mother to a 2.5 year old boy. My husband passed away in 2018 unexpectedly due to a brain aneurysm. Our son was only 6 weeks old at the time. (He was also born 5 weeks early due to my water breaking randomly. We think it was because he wanted to come out to spend time with his daddy!) As much as it sucks, I am so glad to know I’m not alone in this journey. Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. I am so sorry for your loss. Not something I would wish on my worst enemy. I lost my husband when I was 7 1/2 months pregnant with our son… he went to work one day and just didn’t come home. I honestly can’t imagine how hard it must of been to watch your best friend and husband slowly leave. My heart and prayers are with you and your beautiful boys.

  7. Hi,
    I realy admire your bravory , faith , immense love for your husband and kids , your inspiring smile in the pictures even in the hardest time .
    I wish that the kids will always make you proud and that they will inherit from their parents their great and strong personality.
    Have the best life.🤲

  8. i was wondering, was the cancer genetic? Why did you decide to have children if so. I ask this respectfully, but you don’t have to answer. I’m sorry for your loss..

  9. Wow what an incredible story! May God bless you and your twin boys. I tell my boyfriend daily I want our kids to have his eyes (the most incredible blue) and I’m so happy you get to see your husband in your boys. I know I don’t know you but you are so strong and an inspiration to all. I pray that God continues to bless you and your family in all ways. ❤️

  10. I came across your story and you are remarkable to be able to share such a personal journey. I am so sorry for your loss and for what you have gone through. I am also a widow my husband of 30 yrs passed suddenly 2 yrs ago this Valentine’s Day, came home from work went for a nap went to check on him when he didn’t come out for dinner and found him on the bathroom floor. He had 3 heart attacks over the previous 15 yrs and this was assumed to of been cardiac arrest, he was 58. After hearing your story I have no right to be feeling sorry for myself, I have not had the road you have had to travel and my husband was here to see our 3 kids to become young adults they were 18,24&27 when he passed !You are so strong and your family is beautiful. ❤️

  11. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I lost my dad 2 years ago, during my freshman year of college. He was sick for many years and faded away right before our eyes. Some days, I don’t know how to deal with the overwhelming loss. Through it all, my dad trusted in Jesus and kept his gaze fixed on eternity. His conviction is enough to carry me through another day. Your husband sounds like a wonderful man, who exemplified characteristics of the Lord so well. I can’t imagine what it is like to navigate through motherhood without your husband, but I do know that the Lord will sustain you. I feel so deeply for you. Hold onto hope. Much love ❤️

  12. Omg ! I cried so much reading your post . I saw your profile on TikTok and I couldn’t not come here and comment . Thank you so much for sharing your story with others . Thank you so much for the life of your family and your husband . You guys looked a such happy family from the begging until the end of your husband life here in the earth . I know he is with God right now and looking up to you and your kids .

    You’re a strong an amazing women and a incredible mon ! God bless your life with all the blessings because you deserve so much !

    Thank you so much for sharing !

    Karla – From Brazil
    P.s.: I live in Florida now . 🙂

    You are veryyyy stronggg women ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ god blesss you and your cutee babiessssssssss ❤️❤️❤️❤️

  14. Your story is so aspiring and so strengthening.
    It’s really emotional . I truly wish the best for you and your boys. U r so strong ,more power to u. Hope everyone would read this story and learn to never lose hope and fight for what’s important to them. Wish you all the happiness in the world . Go mama!❤️

  15. Amazing story with the worst ending, being blessed with two boys is what you needed at that time to keep you going. Hopes for a happy long living life for the rest of your family

  16. Thank you for sharing your Story. We‘re all so sorry bout your loss…
    one day it will be okay. You‘re a great familiy.

  17. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry for your loss.
    My husband is currently batting testicular cancer, with two lung surgeries done and one possible risky surgery coming up. (Found out in a week if it’s happening). We have two toddlers at home, everyday is hard.
    You have beautiful sons! Bless you and your family.

  18. Having your boys is a tribute to their father and the love you shared. God’s blessings are aplenty in your story. Your husband was certainly fortunate you were part of his life and vice versa. Enjoy your children and seek out life. I’m certain that is what your husband wishes for you and your boys.

  19. Wow, your post instantly made me start sobbing. Thank you posting this. I’m a new widow at 28 and lost my husband 4 months ago to Colon cancer. He was able to be there when my daughter was born, and two months later he passed away. Reading this made me feel less alone and thank you for that.

  20. My dear,

    Thank you for sharing with us your story and your heart. Only God can gives us the strength to go through The Valley of Death and grief. I admire your faith and I pray that you keep shining with that light and lifting up others with your testimony. You have beautiful boys, may God continue protecting them and they grow in men of God someday.
    Sending you a hug today,


  21. Hello,

    Thank you for this blog. I too lost my husband to cancer. He passed 4 months ago. We have an 8 year old boy and a 4 year old girl. I too am trying to navigate our new normal. I’m grateful for the time we had together but it really just sucks that he is not here to see our kids grow up. I miss him so much.

  22. This story is so heartwrenching and enormously inspiring! How amazing that 2 lovely people have gone through so very
    much, and now one is left to carry on and raise 2 darling boys surrounded by her love and the
    enduring love of their beloved father.
    I wish you and your children a wonderful future, a deep faith and peace and love through it all.
    Thank you for your generosity and bravery in sharing it all with so many others.
    God bless you and may angels walk with you, always.

  23. Jen,

    I have heard so much about you but have never met you in person. grew up with Justin and just loved him-what a hilarious and awesome friend and human being! My heart is aching reading your story again and looking at all of your pictures. Know that all of the hearts that Justin touched still mourn him and more importantly remember him and his goodness, and that we are all wildly cheering you and your darling boys on in this messy journey of life ! You are loved ❤️

  24. Wow, love. So much love and empathy to you and your gorgeous boys. You are testimony to the saying “we can do hard things.” I am so very sorry you had to go through that painful journey and for all your loss. I wish you so much abundant joy and happiness and pray that you and your boys will be showered with love and joy and beautiful miracles. Your strength and compassion is so admirable!

  25. Thank you for sharing your story. My story is something similar in that my husband passed of stage ivb colon cancer when my twins were 9 mths old on June 6, 2020. He fought for three years and his death caught us by surprise as he declined so quickly. I pray that one day I can be where you are but right now I’m still filled with a lot of anger and hurt. Thanks for sharing again

  26. I am so sorry, jessica… i came across your story on IG and it really saddens me, i am in the stage of my life where i am gearing up to get married, have a family and start enjoying life as a married man in a happy family so this really touched me and brought tears to see you had to go through this. RIP justin god bless you and the boys

  27. Wow! What an incredible journey you have faced. It amazes me how much strength and beauty I see in your story which coincides with sadness and grief. I know your strength has been from the Lord because it is incredibly amazing how you are pushing through this journey. I know that God is going to use your story to help so many and what a legacy for your boys to be able to one day look back and see your documentation. I am terribly sorry for your loss. I can imagine that the grief is in waves among the joy of raise your sweet boys. I am thankful you are surrounded by people who love you all. Praying for you friend. Hugs to you. I know as days pass the memories still surface and the loss still haunts. I know there will be days the boys will also ask, “why” I know that you are an amazing mother. And God will give you grace then in those moments. Stay strong friend. God bless!

  28. My my I have been following you and Justin from day one until the end but that man upstairs knows best I cry each time you post trust me especially with the boys you are strong soul that man up there choose you to be the one to carry on on you are doing great with the boy’s hold on those boys going to make you proud God bless 🙏🏿

  29. So sorry for your loss. My husband is terminally ill with liver and kidney failure. I think the worse thing is watching someone so energetic become a completely different person. Your right God doesn’t give us more than we can cope with. I know 2 Corinthians 4 has helped me. It’s reassuring God is the only one nothing can take away from you. All the best

  30. I stumbled across your Tik Tok only to find myself in tears after reading your story. Although it maybe be a hard pill to swallow, God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. From what I have seen and read, you are a strong, amazing mother. I only hope the best for you and yours boys. Your husband is watching over you and your boys every single day. God Bless you.

  31. Hi Coco,
    My 22 yr old son in law was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer 2 months after he married our 21 yr old daughter. Just like you..2 months in, their married life was whisked off to hospitals and then on to St Jude’s in Memphis for hope…
    They just moved back home for Cody to take a year of chemo pills sent by St Judes by mail. We have an RV on the property in E Tn for them to live in so they have some
    feeling of independence. I am so grateful to read your story, and your dad’s. I haven’t shared this with my diaghter, Amanda, yet bc I don’t want to upset her by focusing on their likely sad reality in the near future. St Judes will help them with IVF in 3 years if…
    Thank you for your faith and joy in the trials. We trust that God will use our daughter to walk thru fire bravely and faithfully with her husband as you did yours…

  32. I think you are such a lovely human to share so deep a sorrow as this is in the hopes of strengthening anyone who might need it. Thank you! Your story makes me want to go squeeze everyone in the house, and I will. Happy Anniversary, I hope you are spending it remembering all the beauty of the ride you have had, and the two little gifts of hope for the future!

  33. I’m here with my problems and then I bump on you, and all you have being through, made my problems look so small. May God forgive me and bless you with joy and fulfillment.

  34. I saw your TikTok post about your story and one of the first things that came to my mind was “Families can be together forever through Heavenly Father’s plan,” and the overwhelming impression that you and your husband are LDS. Whether that is true or not, I just wanted to say that you both had such a beautiful light to you, and I am so sorry that he passed away. I hope you and your boys are able to keep your memories of him strong in the years to come. My mom went through a similar situation, and I am so grateful that she never hesitated to tell me stories about him. ❤️

  35. Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine how painful (and cathartic) it must’ve been writing this. That pain never goes away, but having your family and friends does soothe it a little bit, and I hope you’re doing great. I hope your two kids bring you joy, smiles, warmth and so much love.

    Reading this gave me the strength to keep going. I’m 25 and I lost my mom 2 years ago. She was my only family, us two against the world, and there are some days when I feel I’ll never stop missing her. I still have a whole life to live, and I can’t imagine doing that without her. But when I see pictures with her, I remember all the good moments, all the happiness, and I’m grateful I had her, even if I’d liked her to stay with me much longer.

    We can’t change what happened, we can only be grateful for those beautiful moments and keep going. I’m sure they want us to be happy, and we must to.

  36. Much love to you. You are remarkable and have no idea what you have done for many total strangers who have experienced the pain of loss.

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