Obituary: Dr. Jennifer Zannini-Cipriani, 47

by | Feb 6, 2021

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Dr. Jennifer Zannini-Cipriani of East Greenwich Rhode Island passed away on Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at the age of 47. Jennifer fought for three years with extreme courage and conviction against a cancer that ultimately proved too elusive to contain. She will be missed by many in her beloved home state of Rhode Island where she was raised and where she returned in 2018 to focus on her fight for life. In between she lived in Massachusetts for over 20 years. She located to Massachusetts for her residency training program, met a husband, grew a family, and thrived in a career until her diagnosis and early retirement from Winchester Anesthesia Associates at Winchester Hospital.

Jen loved her parents, siblings, husband, children, and friends with joy and intensity, creating experiences and making memories to last a lifetime. From the little things: nightly songs of “You Are My Sunshine” to her children, and birthday parties with pony rides in the backyard; to world-class travel to Iceland, France, Ireland, Italian and California vineyards, and the slopes and spas of Stowe, Vermont, and Mont Tremblant. Jen’s zest for life and desire to share the world with her family and friends, to squeeze the richness out of every single day, was evident throughout her entire life. She never allowed day-to-day challenges to eclipse all the world had to offer, long before she knew that would be necessary. Jen will be remembered as a cherished friend to so many who despite her busy life consistently maintained meaningful friendships from childhood, college, medical school, residency, her career at Winchester Hospital, and her life as a mother.

Family Life: Jen was raised in Barrington by her mother Rita (White) Zannini and her father Gaetano Zannini. Upon graduating Barrington High School in 1991, Jen went on to attend and graduate from Syracuse University, The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and a residency program at Boston University Medical Center. She met her husband Matt in Boston in 2003 and the two were married in 2006. They welcomed their first child, Charlotte Bari, in 2010 and their son, Jackson Quinn, in 2012. Her family lived and thrived in Lexington, Mass., until Jen’s diagnosis in February of 2018. The family relocated back to Rhode Island that summer to be closer to both Jen and Matthew’s families to help support her fight against cancer. When not busily researching cancer treatments, Jen was always volunteering to help at the children’s schools or focusing on maximizing her time with her family and friends. Their family found many new and lasting friendships in East Greenwich. Matt, Charlotte, and Jackson will continue to live within this great community. In addition to her parents and children, Jen will leave behind a brother, Michael Zannini of Johnston, and a sister, Julie (Zannini) Bianco of Barrington.

Professional Life: Jen immersed herself wholeheartedly in everything she did, from her fierce devotion to her husband Matt, her children, Charlotte and Jack, to her sincere interest in her ancestry and heritage. This carried over to her professional life as a dedicated and accomplished anesthesiologist loved by all. Jen spent years of hard work in medical school, and an intense residency in Anesthesiology at Boston University School of Medicine. The training she received prepared her for a successful career as a well-respected partner in Winchester Anesthesia Associates. Jen spent years caring for countless patients in the operating room, labor and delivery, and emergency situations throughout Winchester Hospital. Her skill saved lives while her warm, gentle nature was admired by all. Anyone crossing paths with Jen at work will forever remember Jen’s sparkling blue eyes and infectious laugh that could never be hidden by the mask that covered up her dazzling smile. Jen’s clinical skills were only part of her success as a physician. An anesthesiologist has only minutes to connect with a patient developing the trust a patient must have to place their lives in her hands. Relationships were JZ’s (as coworkers affectionately called her) thing. She made her patients feel valued as she asked them about their lives, and she shared stories about hers, helping her patients to feel safe and secure.

Jennifer never seemed to have it easy. She had a propensity for attracting the toughest nights on call in the hospital. While juggling staffing resources and patient needs, she always carried out her work in anesthesia at the highest level. She was always calm in crisis while still kind and caring to her patients and coworkers. Years later, patients returning to the hospital would recognize her. She was remembered fondly as the anesthesiologist who helped them deliver a child, comforted them when they were most vulnerable, or literally saved their life. Jen moved seamlessly from being an amazing mother to Charlotte and Jack, to expertly placing an epidural for a laboring woman in pain, to ensuring the call team had the best take out dinner in town. Jen gave wholly and quietly to others, evidenced by her name, tucked away by the Winchester Hospital rear elevators, as a hospital donor of over $100,000.

Diagnosis: When her friend, a surgeon, ordered her an X-ray after a long day working together in the OR to investigate a prolonged cough, he didn’t know he would be changing Jen’s life. No one could have thought that it would be her last day in the OR as someone else’s doctor. The shocking diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer on February 9, 2018, was, in her words, the end of one life and the beginning of another. It felt like for all who knew and loved her that the world just stopped. But Jen was just getting started. She used her acumen to scientifically find ways to ensure she received the best possible care, seeking out caregivers who would go above and beyond to try new lifesaving and life-extending treatments and diagnostic tools. Her own medical knowledge helped her live the best and longest life possible, defying the odds to spend as many days with her family as she could muster. Jen was also generous with her knowledge and shared her findings with many other cancer patients worldwide through her Project Breathing Hope foundation. She became a superstar in a large network of patients, caregivers, and professionals in the cancer world.

One of Jen’s friends said it best: “While the memory of her wine-colored nail polish across the top of the epidural cart in Labor and Delivery at Winchester Hospital may be faintly fading; as the days and nights passed without her as she fought for her life and her family; Jen’s mark on this world will never fade. She was a true ray of sunshine. As the song says, Jen, you made us all happy when skies were gray, and you’ll never know, dear, how much we love you.” It can be said that those sentiments are shared by all who Jen touched over her years and she will be greatly missed by all.

Jen’s final wishes were to keep her memory alive for her 10-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and her 8-year-old son, Jack, and to fight to rewrite the future of lung cancer treatment through funding medical research. To this end, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Jen’s foundation Project Breathing Hope.

At the request of Jennifer, all services will be private.

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