Those who know Jennifer Derr see her as a loving mother, devoted partner and passionate small-business owner with a warm heart and giving spirit.
Now it’s their turn to repay the kindness.
Derr, owner of Scranton homegoods store Jenny’s Corner, 1107 Oram St., was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29. Over the ensuing 14 years, the Scranton resident underwent hundreds of surgeries and treatments, including with trial drugs, and endured setbacks in the form of infections, complications and an ovarian cancer diagnosis. Recently, Derr has fought past issues stemming from her previous breast cancer, which required immediate attention and a five-week hospital stay, and is facing tumors in her lungs. A PET scan at the end of the month will address those findings.
To help ease the financial burden of treatment and to surround Derr — who lost her steady, full-time job a few weeks before her hospital stay — with positivity and love, her family and friends will host a benefit for her on Sunday, Sept. 8, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Road, Scranton. Proceeds will benefit Derr as well as her daughters, Mia and Camille, and her partner of 16 years, Lisa.
“She’s always there to help everybody else out. If you need something, she’s there,” said co-organizer Christine Reese, who knows Derr through their children. “Everyone always comes first, and she puts herself on the back burner. After everything she’s been through, we want her to know how much she’s loved and appreciated. She’s unbelievable.”
After Derr’s last battle with breast cancer, radiation narcosis formed over the affected area, which then also formed a biofilm, making the area resistant to medications and treatments.
She entered the hospital on July 23 and began immediate treatment, including a radical nucleus debridement — the surgical removal of unhealthy tissue — on Aug. 19. Her hospital stay ended on Aug. 26 with strict stipulations, including at-home health care eight hours a day, two weeks of bed rest and doctors appointments five days a week. She has a long road to recovery ahead of her, including reconstruction of her chest and rehabilitation.
Tickets to the benefit cost $20 and include domestic beer and a buffet. There will be wristbands for those 21 and older. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page. The event also will include basket raffles, and baskets and donations of any kind are being accepted. A GoFundMe for Derr also has been set up for donations.
Co-organizer Danielle Edsell, who owns Danni P Photography, which operates out of the same space as Derr’s store, said this benefit is the best way to rally around Derr.
“We’re doing this for her. She needs all the help she can get at this point and all the love and support,” Edsell said. “What she does for everyone around her and for the community, it’s just unreal. It’s time to give back to her.”
Derr — a basketball player throughout high school and college who also coached — equated cancer to having a team. One assembles the group of doctors for the right positions, asks all the questions, pushes the body and has faith it will be successful. However, the outcome isn’t always guaranteed.
Through it all, Derr has documented her journey on her social media pages and kept things real to educate people about what it’s like to experience cancer and treatment.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you never stop coming back with a positive attitude,” she said. “You come back with a bigger smile, a brighter outlook, more knowledge and a new fire inside you to win. You make sure you make a difference for you and your fans, win or lose, as no one is given a trophy who quits.”
If you go
What: Benefit for Jennifer Derr
When: Sunday, Sept. 8, 2 to 5 p.m.
Where: The V-Spot Bar, 906 Providence Ave., Scranton
Details: Tickets cost $20 and include domestic beer and a buffet. There will be wristbands for those 21 and older. Proceeds benefit Derr as well as her daughters, Camille and Mia, and partner of 16 years, Lisa. For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.
To donate: Baskets and donations of any kind are being accepted. Call co-organizers Danielle Edsell at 570-947-5858; Christine Reese, 570-800-9282; Natalie McKeel, 570-687-7648; or Carrie Chase, 570-507-0106. You also can donate at gofundme.com.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT