Erin Pendergast passes away after battle with brain cancer - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Erin Pendergast passes away after battle with brain cancer

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Photo by Bliss Photography Photo by Bliss Photography

ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Erin Pendergast passed away in her home surrounded by her family and friends on Monday.

About two years ago, the young Rochester mother and wife pregnant with her second child was diagnosed with brain cancer.

At 22 weeks pregnant, Pendergast, a nurse at Mayo Clinic, went to the emergency room with a headache.

There, a CT scan revealed a brain tumor about four centimeters long.

She fought the disease for nearly two years, but her friends and family say she was so much more than the cancer that ultimately took her. That's why now, even in tragedy, the world has changed a little bit for the better.

Erin's diagnosis was one to turn the world upside down.

"From there everything changed," said her husband, Ryan Pendergast.

But if you listen to Ryan and those who knew her best, you find she was the person who could somehow turn it right again.

"I mean, as an outsider looking in, of course, it's unlucky to get terminal brain cancer, especially when you are pregnant and you have two kids," Ryan said. "Definitely unlucky, but in almost every other aspect of this, I'd say we've been lucky."

Part of this story comes from the past two years.

"It's been a long journey, she fought so hard for those kids," Ryan said.

She spent those past two years in treatment, in church and in love with two little boys, a husband, a family, friends and life.

"There aren't a lot of people who suffer really well, and she suffered very graciously," said Paul Brushaber, the Pastor of Christ Community Church in Rochester where Erin and Ryan worshiped. "It's very hard to watch for people who love someone like that, but I don't know if anyone else could have handled this better."

In those two years, Erin taught a lot of lessons, lessons of inner strength.

A year after her brain surgery and two days after a terrible seizure, the woman who always took care of others laced up her running shoes and finished a 5K.

"There were a whole bunch of people out there wearing these orange team Erin shirts, and she ran that whole 5K without stopping," Ryan said.

But to only tell the story of the disease she fought, leaves out the other 30 years of her life. The years that shaped a woman who could fight.

"So many of her traits rubbed off on me, and I'm going to carry them with me for the rest of my life," Ryan said.

The lessons that come from that part of her story -- of the cardiac nurse who married her husband on the beach in Mexico, had weekly girls nights and guided her friends through their pregnancies -- are just as life changing.

"She taught me that you always have a choice, so no matter how bad things are, you have a choice on how you interpret those," Ryan said. "You have a choice on how you react to that circumstance."

The last part of the story isn't just about Erin.

"I think Erin and Ryan have been a great example in how to get through things together," said Jennifer Shin one of Erin's friends. "You're not totally alone."

That part of the story is about her husband, her sons, family, coworkers, the ladies at those girls nights -- because those are the people she left behind to keep changing the world.

"She left in peace knowing that the boys were going to be okay because Ryan has been such an exemplary husband, dad and friend, son," Shin said. "I don't think she had any worries about her boys."

A visitation for Erin will be held next Tuesday afternoon at Ranfranz and Vine Funeral Homes in Rochester, and a service will be held Wednesday at Christ Community Church for any community members who wish to celebrate her life.

You can find information regarding those services here.

Instead of flowers, Erin asks that memorials be directed towards Erin's children or a charity of your choice.

You can make donations here.

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