New York Times Portraits of Grief

Jennifer Fialko

At 24, an age when most people are busy with first jobs and apartments, Jennifer Fialko was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease. She was 29 before she fully recovered; by then, she felt her cancer had been a gift. "It led her on a spiritual journey," said Bob Fialko, her father. Weakened by 18 months of chemotherapy, Ms. Fialko devoted herself to becoming healthy, with organic food and alternative treatments.

Six years later, she was not simply cancer-free, said Evelyn Fialko, her mother. She felt marvelous -- strong and energetic. Her new mission was to help other sick people regain their health. She had met "her soul mate," Mr. Fialko said. And in September she started a new job at the Aon Corporation . After years in Teaneck, N.J., she was excited to be working in Lower Manhattan.

Beating cancer made her glow with new confidence, Mr. Fialko said. She felt she could do anything. "She was convinced she was now going to live to 120," said Andrew Fialko, her brother. "And we believed her."