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Fundraiser to benefit Gastric Cancer Fund

Jennifer Hill

Jennifer Hill

LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Feb. 18, along with her family, Jennifer Hill would've celebrated her 33rd birthday.

Instead, her husband and two sons, ages 9 and 12, spent the bittersweet day at Sonic, drinking the Powerade slush that she had come to depend on for sustenance in her last days, and remembering the woman she was.

Hill was diagnosed in May 2009 with stomach cancer, a disease with a five-year survival rate of about 28 percent that mainly affects those 65 and older.

After failing to respond to multiple chemotherapy treatments, she died on Nov. 17.

In honoring the life of a devoted wife, mother and preschool teacher -- and to raise awareness of a disease that is often diagnosed far too late -- Hill's husband, Brian, has organized a fundraiser to benefit the Gastric Cancer Fund.

The Gastric Cancer Fund is the first organization dedicated to helping people fight gastric cancer, according to its Web site.

Brian said his wife suffered from stomach-related issues for a couple of years prior to her diagnoses. She had her gallbladder removed, he said, and "never felt better." The couple thought her ailments might be symptoms of this illness or that, but cancer never crossed their minds.

Brian said after they found out what they were battling, they had a hard time finding consolidated, credible information on the disease.

Now, he wants to do anything he can to turn his tragedy into someone else's triumph.

"Anything I could do to help them because for the next family that this happens to, I want them to be able to find resources," Brian Hill said.

The fundraiser, called "Skating for Stomachs," will be held from 6 until 9 p.m. Sunday at Skate-A-Long USA in Lilburn.

The cost is $6 for skaters and $3 for nonskaters and there will be other donation opportunities inside the skating rink. There will be a dollar raffle for a gift basket and organizers ask that those who attend to drop any spare change into the "Change for a Change" bucket.

Before she was diagnosed, Jennifer cut off more than a foot of her hair to donate to Locks of Love, a nonprofit organization that provides hair prosthetics to underprivileged children suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

No one could've known then that she would eventually lose her own hair, and her life, to cancer.

"It's kind of a sad irony," Brian said.

For more information on the fundraiser, call Brian Hill at 404-434-7039 or e-mail him at mister_pr@yahoo.com.