Mtn. View High student honors father through Relay For Life

Courtesy of Jeanette Freiberg
Jeanette Freiberg, right, fundraises for Relay For Life to find a cure for cancer.

Life can be difficult when someone you love is battling cancer. Just ask Jeanette Freiberg.

When she was 15 years old, Freiberg, Youth Engagement chairwoman for Relay For Life/Los Altos, lost her father to a rare form of the disease that accumulated in his salivary glands. Although she suffered a great loss, Freiberg said her Relay role helps her cope with the absence of her father while simultaneously fighting for a cure.

The Mountain View High School senior said her family’s involvement with Relay For Life has eased their healing process tremendously and has taught her a precious life lesson.

“I am infinitely more positive,” she said.

Some days are harder than others, Freiberg admitted.

“I remember sitting down with both of my parents … hearing the news (of her father’s diagnosis) and running up to my room and crying,” she recalled.

Freiberg said unresolved feelings occasionally resurface when she least expects it, making it difficult to forget the pain of losing a loved one. Even a brief glimpse of a young father tossing his baby daughter in the air can suddenly move her to tears.

However devastating her experience with cancer has been, Freiberg has learned much from the experience.

“I’ve learned to stay positive through everything and just be grateful that I have what I have in my life,” she said.

Instead of viewing life as fleeting, Freiberg realized that life – and being alive – is worth celebrating. When her family joined Relay For Life after her father’s diagnosis, she said it inspired her to see so many participants smiling “simply because they knew that moments like those are what makes being alive such a privilege.”

Since that moment, she has felt that any amount of time spent with a loved one is something to be grateful for. Through her affiliation with Relay For Life, Freiberg hopes to help others recognize that same appreciation for the “precious gift of life.”

Freiberg shares her Youth Engagement commitment with two other high school students: Lauren Davancaze of Mountain View High and Harrison Beck of Los Altos High. Since joining the committee, Freiberg has made it her sole mission to raise public awareness. She believes that by encouraging awareness among children and teens, she is spreading positive acknowledgment in a way that makes the disease seem less intimidating.

Since her father’s passing, Freiberg has adopted his positive way of living.

“He touched the lives of everyone who knew him,” she added, “and the privilege of being his daughter is something I will cherish for my entire life.”

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