By Teri L. Hansen
Jennifer Burch has long been a staple in the community though she is originally from Lindsborg. She married her husband Vaughan in 1981 and moved to Mac town and has been here ever since. With two children, they made McPherson their home.
“I married a home-town boy,” she said.
In 1987, she began working for the McPherson Chamber of Commerce as an administrative assistant and in 2004 she was named executive director. She stayed there until this year when she stepped down.
“I really miss it,” she said.
As anyone who has known her can say, Burch has been a force to be reckoned with in McPherson and recently she has proven that fortitude one again. In April she was diagnosed with triple negative invasive ductal carcinoma.
“Not just my world, but my family’s world changed,” Burch said.
Occurring in 10 to 20% of diagnosed breast cancers, this is aggressive and therefore treated aggressively. Burch has already undergone chemotherapy, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. She is now in her second round of chemo and has seen a setback. Her white blood cell count is too low to continue the treatment. After six of the 12 rounds recommended, they are looking at other options.
“It’s been very frustrating and a little depressing,” Burch said. “I’ve got tremendous friends and family. I’ve had some very unexpected support.”
With support, love, thoughts and prayers, Burch continues to fight. She has been a strong member of the community for so many years and she has loved it.
“There is a lot of pride in this community because,” she said. “Because of its size people pay attention to what is going on and learn, so that they are civic-minded members of the community.”
Burch has a brother who is the middle sibling. He lives in Panama with his partner and since her diagnosis, he has sent her a rose every week. Not losing her sense of humor, Burch said she might be fudging her lab results just so she can keep getting her weekly rose.
Burch’s journey continues with the support of loved ones. The oldest of three siblings, she is suddenly being mothered and babied. It was “baby sister” Cindy Beagle who nominated her for the McPherson Person of the Month.
“She has put many years into the Chamber of Commerce and still held in there till her cancer and health made her make the hardest decision of retiring,” Beagle said in her nomination. “She is a queen of McPherson and I know everyone would agree that she deserves this so much.”