Chris Camp kept living despite pancreatic cancer

Tom KingFarragut, Our Town Leaders

It was a rainy, chilly morning. All bundled up, my friend Chris Camp settled into my passenger seat for another ride to a long session of chemotherapy. The question “How is she dealing with this?” had crossed my mind over and over.


That morning, I finally asked. Her first words were: “I’ve wondered when you’d ask me that.” Next came her answer.

Chris Camp

“I take this one day at a time. I don’t read anything about it. I don’t Google it online. I don’t want to know. I take whatever comes day by day. I’ve not cried a single time and I won’t. I just won’t. I refuse to feel sorry for myself.”

I reached out and squeezed her gloved hand. Then she said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard: “I’m not going to be dead while I’m living, Tom.” Speechless for me is rare.

After 18 months of painful, sickening and often debilitating chemo treatments, surgery and infections, Jane Christine Thor Camp, 70, died peacefully at her home this past Sunday at 5:17 a.m. It’s hard to beat pancreatic cancer. Two months ago she said to me: “I know now I’m not going to survive this.”

I was one of her “taxi” drivers when she needed me. Her dear friend Sharon Martens was the other. One day as we were on the way to the University of Tennessee Cancer Research Center I said to Chris: “I may have to get me a Driving Miss Daisy hat.” She was not amused.

Chris and I are both past presidents of the Rotary Club of Farragut. She joined our club on May 7, 2014, when I was president. I was her sponsor and had the honor of inducting her and presenting her with our club’s Rotary pin.

Chris and her former husband, Dave, had three children – Tina, 38; Diana Leonard, 36; and Charlie, 34. Diana, Charlie and a sister and brother-in-law, Laurie and Eric Rodli, were with her when she passed away. Chris thrived on family and doting on Diana’s two children, her only grandchildren. Her other sisters live in California: Vicki Kornahrens of Goleta and Ruth Nelson of Portola.

The oldest child, Tina, has Down syndrome. Rearing a child with disabilities requires an inner strength many people do not possess. Chris had inner strength and then some. She also was a champion of our Partner In Education School – Ridgedale, which serves students with disabilities in grades K-12.

This incredibly bright lady was a Stanford University graduate and many people knew her professionally as the chief financial officer of Denark Construction Co. Chris was responsible for all accounting, financial, bonding, insurance and human resources activities for Denark owners Raja Jubran and Frank Rothermel.

Diana said Chris requested those wishing to make donations in her honor to donate to the Rotary Club of Farragut (Rotary Club of Farragut / P.O. Box 22158 / Knoxville, TN 37933 or to the Rotary Club of Farragut Foundation or to Pancreatic Cancer Research. See obituary here.

Farragut Rotarians are heart-broken and sorrowful, remembering their friend who was caring to everyone, private, humble, classy and really smart. Chris was a major part of our club – and of our hearts. She exuded Rotary’s motto of “Service Above Self.”

To explore membership in the Rotary Club of Farragut, email tking535@gmail.com or call 865-659-3562. Tom King has served at newspapers in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and California and has been the editor of two newspapers.

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