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Janesville woman throws own "life celebration" in place of funeral

Published On: Dec 24 2013 07:25:21 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 16 2013 12:42:58 AM CST

Diana Brown, 52, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September, and doctors told her she only had six to nine months to live.

To hear her tell it, Brown doesn’t think she'll last that long.

So to save her family the pain and expense of a funeral, Brown decided to throw a party in celebration of her life.

Sunday afternoon at Emmanuel Church in Janesville, the many people she touched in her life got a chance to share their stories and their love for her.

Those people included family and friends, but also people who knew Diana from her job as a server at the local Countryside Restaurant, like John and Rita Jay.

Though they didn't know many of the faces staring back at them from photographs displayed at the event, the Jays said Diana's pictures were truly a reflection of her personality.

“It's just kind of a mirror of her life.  She enjoyed life,” John said.

"Life is for the living. I just admire her. She had the most wonderful outlook," John continued.

One by one, Brown’s friends and family poured their hearts into a microphone. Her daughter, her mother, her best friend, and others said some of their final words to a woman who touched their lives.

Then, Diana Brown returned the sentiment, appreciating the chance to hold her granddaughter tight in her arms and the chance to tell people "thank you" and "I love you."

"It's never goodbye. It's just until later," Brown said. "I love you all so much, and please remember, you all have helped me in this journey."

The service ended with a prayer circle, with some asking for some higher being to bring healing to Brown.

"Maybe the Lord will say, hey, maybe we'll give her another couple years. You never know. Stranger things have happened," John said.

But Diana seems to have accepted her fate and to be looking forward to what comes next.

"I'll be waiting for our next journey when we'll start all over," Brown said.

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