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Cancer patient loses to fire the dogs that saved her life

The weekend fire in Hastings destroyed the rental home where Jennifer Reinardy lived.

HASTINGS, Minn. — As she scrolls through photos of her two beloved dogs, Jennifer Reinardy is left with her memories – and her life.

A life saved by Penny and Zeke, and the barking that awoke Jennifer early Saturday morning to her burning Hastings home.

In a desperate attempt to save her dogs in their kennels, Jennifer turned from the flames to retrieve a fire extinguisher.

“And the whole porch just whoosh,” she says.

Jennifer knew then there was no saving Zeke the pit bull and Penny the corgi chihuahua.

“And I could hear Penny and that's something it's going to stay with me for a long, long, time,” Jennifer says.

And the story gets worse.

In September of 2018, Jennifer was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. To afford chemotherapy, she stopped making her house payments.

“It's not cheap to have cancer,” Jennifer says.

Her bank foreclosed and Jennifer moved into the rental home she’s now lost – with everything she owns - in the fire.

On bad days during her treatment, Penny and Zeke were Jennifer’s therapy.

“They were keeping me happy and giving me reason to get up in the morning, to get up and do things.”

In that, she says, Penny and Zeke saved her twice.

“It makes you want to cry,” Jennifer says.

Doctors have told Jennifer with chemo she may get two more years.

RELATED: 13 dogs perish in fire at St. Francis home

“I keep telling her you can't give up. You just have to keep moving forward,” Jennifer’s mom, Janice Teeter, says.

Janice is in her own cancer battle again metastatic melanoma.  

“It just kind of keeps piling on,” Jennifer says. “It can stop now. I’m ready.”

Jennifer knows her time is short.

“I would not want to waste it feeling sorry for myself,” she says.  

So, she’s soldiering on without the home where she lived and the dogs that she loved.

“They're up in heaven now,” she says of Zeke and Penny.  “And they're going to be waiting for me when I get there.”

NOTE: For now, Jennifer is staying with family. A friend has set up a GoFundMe page to help her get back on her feet. For more information, click here.