In November 2014, 66-year-old Babbette Jaquish passed away following her battle with cancer. Babbette was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2006 and underwent 22 different types of cancer treatments before her death.
According to the Mayo Clinic, multiple myeloma is a cancer that forms in plasma cells and prevents the body from fighting infections. The cancer can cause unhealthy cells to build up in the bone marrow and crowd out healthy blood cells.
After Babbette’s death, her husband, Don Jaquish, planted nearly 400 acres of sunflowers for her in Wisconsin because they were her favorite flower. He told ABC News, “She was as beautiful on the inside as she was on the outside. “She got to be known as the sunflower lady of the community. So after she passed away, I thought it would be a tribute to her to plant 4.5 miles of sunflowers on each side of Highway 85.”
Remarkably, it only took Jaquish a week to plant all the flowers and he plans to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sunflowers to cancer research, hospitals and patient care. He said that some of the treatments his wife received came from clinical trials, which is why he wants to donate to cancer research. However, it was actually Babbette’s idea to raise and sell sunflowers to benefit people suffering from cancer.
He explained, “She realized the importance of research in clinical trials. She went from being expected live two weeks to two months to nine years. Her attitude was everyday I can stay alive I’m one day closer to a cure. I hope that eventually we can find a cure for cancer, so other families don’t have to go through what we have.” He added, “Everyone that ever met Babbette fell in love with her. I was just lucky enough to be the guy that she fell in love with.”
Babbette’s daughter Jenny White said the following about her mother and Don: “They were very much in love with each other. My mom would have done anything for him and he would have done anything for her.”
Now Babbette’s sunflowers are blooming and will be ready for purchase soon. Jaquish said he will plant sunflowers every year in memory of her and every 25-pound bag they sell will have her story. White concluded, “We wanted it to be a statement of love. There’s 4.5 miles of sunflowers, and it’s an enormous, beautiful sight. And that’s just like my mom. That’s what she did with her life.”
Learn more about Babbette’s story in the video below.