PINELLAS PARK — From the start, doctors didn't think she would make it. She was born 10 weeks premature.
But she fought.
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Jennifer Pascale was always a family person. When she was a little girl, she nurtured her baby dolls. She was quiet and liked to be with a small group of friends. She loved her older brother, Shawn Keeney, and they picked on each other back and forth.
Mrs. Pascale was born 10 days before Halloween. It was her favorite holiday. Her family dressed in elaborate costumes and built makeshift haunted houses.
In her early 20s, she met Michael Pascale. On their first date, they went to Olive Garden, played miniature golf and walked along Madeira Beach.
He loved her sense of humor. Her calm personality. Her high morals. Her desire for stability.
"She was always correcting me," said Mr. Pascale, 35. She made me a better person. She pointed my life in a good direction."
At the wedding, they danced to I Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. Soon after, their children came along — Riley, now 7, and Rachel, now 5.
Mrs. Pascale studied special education and worked at Pinehurst Children's Center in Pinellas Park. She taught after school, drove the bus and made meals.
She loved baking, cross-stitching and scrapbooking. Two years ago, her husband sectioned off part of their garage for her crafts. She was thrilled.
But one month later, on Mother's Day 2006, things changed. She was diagnosed with colon cancer, which had spread. She tried experimental treatments and eventually moved into her mother's house to rest. Her husband brought the kids over.
"When everybody was around, she really pushed herself in order to visit and play with them," said her mother, Sally Keeney. "She'd be exhausted when they went, but she wanted to do that."
On Halloween 2006, her family built a haunted trail on her brother's half-acre in Pinellas Park. Shawn Keeney, who builds professional haunted houses, planned an elaborate design with skeletons and special effects. Her family raised $6,000 to help with medical bills. She wasn't well enough to see much of the display. But she was overwhelmed.
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Mrs. Pascale died Tuesday. She was 31.
Doctors had told her family to prepare for her death. That was six months ago
But she fought.
Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8857.