Cancer claims couple who drew strong support from community and family

Heather and Jason Brinkerhoff and their son Lucian.

Daily Post Staff Writers

In December, the Post printed an article about a community of churchgoers and neighbors who renovated a house for a young North Fair Oaks couple who both had aggressive cancers.

Last week family members said that Heather, 41, and Jason Brinkerhoff, 45, had died just 14 days apart.

The couple is survived by their 4-year-old son, Lucian.

“The world is missing incredible joy and incredible goodness now that they’re gone,” their friend, Lisa Branson, told the Post.

She said that shortly before his death, Jason Brinkerhoff worked with his mother-in-law to cut out paper letters that spell “thank you.” Those words were hung outside the couple’s house after their deaths as a final tribute to their community.

“Even in the midst of their deaths they wanted to thank people and were so aware of how much love was shown to them,” said Branson.

Deaths came 14 days apart

Jason Brinkerhoff, an artist, was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2018. He died on March 10. Heather Brinkerhoff, a personal trainer, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last January. She died 14 days later, on March 24.

The couple drew support from a wide network of family and friends.
They were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Valparaiso Avenue.

Nicole Johnson, Heather Brinkerhoff’s sister, announced the couple’s death on their GoFundMe page.

Johnson wrote that Brinkerhoff was “the idea guy, the party planner and the trickster” in their family. She said Brinkerhoff thought up all of their best family adventures.

Johnson said that when Brinkerhoff learned that her cancer was likely to end her life, her first thought was concern for her loved ones.

“Heather’s first words to me as we cried together in the car were, ‘I just feel so bad for all the people who are going to be sad and feel any pain because of this,’” wrote Johnson. “Faced with her own mortality, Heather thought about us, in this very moment, and in the many leading up to it.”

Lucian Brinkerhoff will be raised by an uncle and aunt on Heather Brinkerhoff’s side of the family. Johnson said the remaining GoFundMe money will go to the child’s trust.

There are no plans for a memorial service now because of restrictions on gatherings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.