Co-owner of Western Fork served heaping helpings of time and talent to Liberty Twp.
By LINDA M. LINONIS
In telling Jen’s story, tears trickle down the face of her husband, Scott Husk. He smiles, too, remembering his loving, energetic and generous wife who fought a deadly disease.
“I cry when I need to cry,” he said.
Jen died of breast cancer Jan. 13, but her legacy of caring continues for those who admired and loved her.
The couple met at Youngstown State University; they were together 18 years and married in 2001. In 2005, they bought Western Sizzler restaurant on Belmont Avenue. It previously had been operated by Jen’s parents.
The Husks renamed it West Fork Roadhouse and worked split shifts. They had children, Camden, now 7 and a first-grader at E.J. Blott Elementary School, and Zaiden, 5, in preschool at the Jewish Community Center.
They also became an integral part of the Liberty community and business district. The Husks gave generously to sports teams and community organizations and were involved in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in the township.
Their lives changed in June 2008 when Jen was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. Jen’s mother, Rita, also died of breast cancer. Jen had a modified double mastectomy and lymph nodes removed. She went through 16 weeks of chemotherapy and eight weeks of radiation that lasted until March 2009. “We thought she was free and clear,” Scott said. Her checkup in May 2010 was fine.
Life returned to juggling restaurant and family demands. The Roadhouse sponsored Team Jen in Relay for Life. The couple frequented the JCC to work out. When Jen experienced hip pain, Scott said she attributed it to her being on her feet so much. Jen went to the emergency room in July 2010. “I knew it wasn’t good when Jen said she had to have a CAT scan,” Scott said.
The scan revealed the breast cancer metastasized and was in Jen’s hip bones and spine. “It was a very aggressive kind of cancer,” Scott said, adding that it didn’t show up on previous checkups. He said the cancer was infiltrating ductal carcinoma, an aggressive breast cancer. The cancer had spread to her bone marrow, and she was getting transfusions.
Three days before Christmas of 2010, she fell and had a hematoma develop on her thigh. “She was in a lot of pain,” Scott recalled. Then they learned the cancer had spread to her liver, lymph nodes and lungs.
Jen was admitted to St. Joseph Health Center in Warren. “Hospice wasn’t an option; it was too late,” Scott said. “The staff there was phenomenal. They doted on us,” he said.
Scott brought Camden and Zaiden to the hospital to say good-bye. He said he believes Jen was aware of their presence. When Jen died, family, friends and community residents gathered at the Roadhouse, where her wake was.
Scott said his mother, Connie Husk, moved in with him to help with the children. His dad, Rodney, is deceased. Jen’s dad, David Berry, and stepmom, Margo, also are part of their lives. “I’m trying to keep a routine for them,” he said of his sons. They have visited Jen’s grave at Church Hill Cemetery and the boys took flowers.
Scott said he is still sorting out medical bills; the family did have health insurance costing $15,000 annually or a little over $1,000 a month with a $3,000 deductible.
Scott said he is grateful for the help from family, friends and community. “The support has been overwhelming and wonderful,” he said. Scott will sponsor Team Jen at Relay for Life this year in honor of his wife and his sister, Tracey Husk, who died of cancer in September 2009.