The word tragedy is bandied about to describe so many situations that it has lost some of its potency. But if there is a circumstance that truly rises to that of tragedy, it is the death of beloved Essex Fells resident, Dr. Jan Huston-Pryor. Huston-Pryor was struck and killed by a car on Tuesday morning, March 21st, 2017. While the death of anyone under these or any other conditions are cause for despondence, the bright light represented by the life of Huston-Pryor makes the shadow of her passing all the more dark.
Professionally, Huston-Pryor was a hero in her field, serving as a medical director at Hackensack UMC-Mountainside Hospital, where she was a strong proponent of evidence-based screening and treatment of breast disease. She was also the key investigator for a study of the Breathlink test, a promising cancer screening tool using genetic markers in a patient's breath.
In the late 1990s, she opened the Summit Breast Care center, which offered affordable breast care for women. She was well-known for treating all women—whether they had insurance or could afford to pay. She was also known for giving out her home and cell phone numbers to patients. The good doctor said it was a privilege to be a doctor, never losing her compassion and respect for all of her patients.
After news of her death broke, social media was flooded with people crediting Huston-Pryor with saving their lives. As remarkable as she was as a professional, Huston-Pryor shined brightest in her personal life. Friends went out of their way to describe her generosity of spirit and kindness, while the family she and husband, Jonathan, created was one of unique brilliance. The couple had 12 children, including 10 adopted from around the globe, including Texas, Guatemala, Mexico, Russia, China, and Ethiopia.
Huston-Pryor adopted a number of older children with traumatic histories, believing they could thrive in a loving Christian family and supportive community. This devotion to both faith and science is an astounding and rare mixture, but she inspired friends and family to embrace all the good that could be found in a healthy physical and spiritual life. There are no words that serve as a fitting tribute to someone who changed so many lives for the better. There is nothing that can be said that can bring comfort to a situation like this and make sense out of something so senseless. The best way to pay tribute to individuals that shine so brightly is to pick up the torch they leave behind. We all need to shine a little brighter to fill the void left by Jan Huston-Pryor. To do any less, would be another tragedy. The I Love You More Foundation was established to fill this void as best we can, helping to prevent tragedies related to breast diseases through our service.