Jennifer Arnold Smith

Jennifer Arnold Smith

CHAMPAIGN – Jennifer Sinclair Arnold Smith joined her welcome home party in Heaven on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013.

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 six 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 adviser 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 Adviser, 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 into 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 into 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 donated 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, Oct. 5, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and a Celebration of Life service will be held on Sunday, Oct. 6, at 2 p.m. Both will be held at Faith United Methodist Church, 1719 S. Prospect Ave., 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 W. Springfield Ave., Champaign, IL 61821 or the Imerman Angels organization, which provides one-to-one cancer support at 205 W. Randolph, 19th Floor, Chicago, IL 60606.

Condolences may be offered at

nikkit3 wrote on November 04, 2013 at 4:11 pm

I still cant believe you've been called home. I will cherish your final writings and live life to its fullest because of knowing you.

LMNOP wrote on September 30, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thoughts and prayers for all of Jen's loved ones, especially Corbin. I pray most of all that those closest to him will focus on providing him the time and space he needs to begin healing from this loss at his own pace.

Kris Calvaresi wrote on September 29, 2013 at 4:09 pm

My deepest sympathies are with your family. This story broke my heart when I read it. I am a breast cancer survivor and will forever remember Jen's courage. She was certainly one of a kind and has done so much to help others with breast cancer. I will keep all of you in my prayers.