Jodi A. Buerger ended her four and one-half year struggle with cancer May 8, 2009.
My sister Jodi was the inspiration to create Climb for Hope. When she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in October 2004, I knew we had to move quickly to find a cure. Jodi was one of the greatest women you’d ever meet. Her courage and strength led me to put together an organization dedicated to speeding up work on a treatment for advanced breast cancer to give her more time with her family.
Our precious and beautiful Jodi died only after exhausting every ounce of energy from her broken body. She never gave up and never wavered, clinging to life with awesome courage and determination. I believe she was driven by a sacred devotion to her children and an abiding promise to protect and nurture them. That’s the spirit we embody on our mountaineering expeditions.
In turn we honor her life and take forward the lessons she taught us about being a good and decent person, always acting with integrity and grace, always with words of support and encouragement. She measured her life by what she could do for others and never by what was taken from her.
Throughout her battle she drew tremendous strength from the overwhelming support and love of her family, friends, and climbers. It helped her more than you might know—through all the harrowing medical procedures and crushing relapses and in those dark moments when unspeakable pain and suffering would momentarily weaken her grip.
She left behind Peter, a loving husband of 14 years, and 3 children Charles , Caroline, and Max.
We were not able to save my sister Jodi’s life. But, as Jodi remarked to me when our expedition returned successfully from Kilimanjaro last year that we may not find something fast enough for her, but she believed that her daughter Caroline would grow up in a world without breast cancer because of the hard work of CFH volunteer climbers.
Thank you all for what you’ve done to support and sustain us. Thank you for every hug, every tear, every dollar, and every ounce of support to create a sustainable organization that will keep Jodi’s name alive.
After Jodi’s death, we changed the name of the organization to Jodi’s Climb for Hope to fulfill her wish that despite leaving us at an early age, she never be forgotten.
Now, in Jodi’s name we will continue on the many advances we’ve made, giving Johns Hopkins researcher Dr. Leisha Emens $500,000. That money sped up research by six months and lead to the ground-breaking discovery that lower doses of chemotherapy increase immune responses, a last legacy that will be left for future generations.
So many people, including the more than 100 CFH climbers that she inspired to push themselves way beyond their perceived physical limits to summit a mountain they never thought possible, will miss Jodi.
I would have traded anything that Jodi would have never gotten this disease. Since she did, she was able affect real change in this world. Due to Jodi’s humble personality, she never fathomed how many lives she touched – donors, climbers, guides, volunteers, breast cancer survivors, and grieving families – through Climb for Hope.
If furthering cancer research and inspiring scores of people is how’s she’s remembered, than she’ll have lived a fulfilled life.
—Andrew A. Buerger