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Salee Jenkins

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Salee Jenkins Obituary
SALEE A. JENKINS, PH.D. Prominent psychoanalyst and longtime Elmhurst resident Salee Ann Jenkins nee Acherbach, PH.D., age 64, passed away on August 12, 2013 (See, "My Story", below, about Salee 's experiences with Ovarian Cancer.) Beloved wife of Robert, loving mother of Elizabeth (David Levin), Stephen and Rebecca and cherished grandmother of Alexander and Elijah. Salee is also survived by her father, Troy (Jean) and by her brother Alan (Denna) Achenbach. Salee was an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. She was also a training and supervisor analyst and faculty member at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, where she served as co-dean from 2010-2011, chaired committees, and served on its Board of Directors. Salee was a vital part of the growth and inner workings of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She had an unusual ability to be attuned to and deeply connected with friends, colleagues and especially patients; in her gaze you were important. While fighting an aggressive cancer for the last seven years of her life, Salee continued her commitment to psychoanalytic understanding of the human experience and translated it into a potentially universal perspective in her last paper entitled, "Trauma, Transience and Resilience: A Psychological Perspective on the Physician-Patient Relationship in Chronic Illness ". A memorial service will be held October 13, 2013, at Hammerschmidt Chapel, Elmhurst College, at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given in her name to the Cancer Research Institute, www.cancerresearch.org/salee-jenkins . "My Story": In June, 2007, Salee jotted the following response to an Ovarian Cancer National Alliance survey: "I have ovarian cancer." As I was walking through the airport a few days ago I likened my condition to the recorded announcement that our country faces a "Level Orange " terrorist threat. For me, this threat is internal and the terrorists are microscopic, insidious and capable of disrupting my fragile sense of well-being without warning or recourse. The announcement continues, urging me to keep a vigilant eye on my belongings and report any unattended baggage. These days, my baggage, which I am continually scrutinizing, has become all the physical quirks and fleeting sensations, once casually dismissed, that now have potentially ominous implications. Was that just a cramp or could it be a bowel obstruction? A moment of dizziness or a brain met? Just as the terrorist attack on our country robbed us of the illusion of security, safety and invincibility in our public spaces the diagnosis of cancer initially shatters the vision of an unlimited future and an ongoing predictable ordinariness in the cycles of life. Everything changes. This disease crept up on me with little drama or fanfare. Cancer is a lurker; it takes a stealthy approach; it accrues, then pounces. The holidays seemed more daunting than usual. I was tired and slightly bloated. I called my internist in February (retrospectively, 8 weeks after becoming symptomatic) because as I 've aged I follow up on these small signals more conscientiously, albeit with a burdened and long-suffering "I don 't have time for this" attitude. The physical exam was unremarkable but my CA125 was stratospheric. I had surgery within 3 days. Valentine 's Day. I 'm from Chicago; there was a massacre on that day during Prohibition. My cancer commemorated it for me. Then, there was the aftermath, the real battle. I went unwillingly to war, a draft-dodger at heart, having no choice but to arm myself with bits and pieces of information, folders full of drug studies, trials, second and third opinions. I encountered a wide array of personalities along the way--those who endorsed a "reality morality " which torpedoed hope more effectively than any car bomb could decimate a flower market--and those whose initial caution was alloyed with an enduring optimism and creativity that pried me out of my foxhole and vitalized a host of battle strategies. I 've had a lot of excellent treatment in the past sixteen months, won a few skirmishes, weathered some casualties. I 've learned that the enemy is a guerilla force, adept at ambush, living among us undetected. But does one ever "win the war" on cancer? Or terrorism? If the goals are containment, control and preservation of function, perhaps we can achieve some limited success. But mainly we live a life of calculated risk, taking precautions, usually flying to our destinations unscathed. Or sustaining sufficient health to attend the next chemotherapy session. Complete eradication? It smacks of a pogrom mentality to me. No one has ever been very successful at ethnic cleansing and in the process nothing but tears and a ravaged landscape remain. I am aware that my cancer, like the Chicago gangsters and the middle eastern zealots continues to plot with criminal and deadly intent, my demise. But I have managed to compartmentalize cancer and refused to be defined by it or by my fear. In the meantime, I 'll gain more understanding of its violent nature. So cancer and I are attempting to strike a truce: It can lurk as long as I can work. It can live its own little life as long as I can live my bigger one. One of us will eventually succumb and it will probably be me, but in the interim I hope we can find a way to coexist without excessive compromise. To me, that 's winning.


Published in Suburban Life Publications on Sept. 27, 2013
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