Family of 29-year-old killed by flu speaks out

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ARCHDALE, N.C. -- The family of a vibrant 29-year-old woman is grieving after she died from complications with the flu.

Jennifer Brewer and her family were originally from High Point and moved to Clarksville, Tenn., about two years ago.

She and her parents, Craig and Susan Brewer, were visiting their oldest daughter Renee Brewer in Archdale for Christmas.

"She doesn’t look sick! She was perfectly healthy," said Renee, looking at the family's last picture taken together on a trip to Pilot Mountain over the holiday.

Renee said Jennifer started feeling sick two weeks ago but thought it was just a cold or allergies.

"The next day on that Sunday it just progressively got worse. She said, 'I really don’t feel good,' and again she didn’t want to be a burden. But she said, 'I’ve got to go to the doctor.'"

Jennifer went to Urgent Care and Renee said she was diagnosed with the flu and early stages of pneumonia. Renee said her sister was treated with prescription Tamiflu and a Z-pak.

Throughout last week, Jennifer felt weak and had a fever on and off, but she had no severe symptoms until last Friday night.

"By that point she couldn’t even walk to the couch. We called 911, they came out and by that time she was already turning gray."

Renee said doctors at High Point Regional did everything they could but it was too late; Jennifer was too sick.

She died early Saturday morning on Jan. 4.

"They said she had double pneumonia, the flu and probably a bacterial infection had just went like wildfire through her. They said when that hits you only have minutes to get there."

As Renee comes to terms with losing her best friend, she wants other families to listen to her strong message.

"If this secret killer hits -- it hits. We had only time to get her to the doctor," she explained. "Don’t wait. If you start just to sniffle funny, get to the doctor. Don’t blow it off that you’ve got a cold. Or you’re going to be like me and you’re going to be burying a relative who’s way too young to go."

Jennifer's family described her as gentle, loving and giving. She enjoyed antique shopping and turning her photography into spiritual artwork on her computer.

Many of her pieces were used for church bulletins. "Her passion was spreading the word of Jesus," said Renee.

Jennifer did not get a flu shot this year. Renee said the coroner told her family a flu shot may not have prevented her from getting this particular strain of flu.

Health Officials are warning people all over the state to get a flu shot. Even if you still contract the virus, they said your symptoms may be milder if you've had a vaccine.

Jennifer was the state's fourteenth case of flu-related death.

As of Thursday, 21 total cases of flu-related death have been reported in North Carolina.

The Brewer family would like donations sent in Jennifer's honor to the James E. Marshall Foundation dedicated to curing Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


  • Melissa cole

    My mother died January 1st a very similar way almost exactly the same way It was so unexpected I know wHat This family isGoing through and my heart goes out to them

  • Patrice Grubbs Knight

    My sister died from the same thing twelve yrs ago. Flu and viral pneumonia, then she became septic. Even though the flu shot is no guarantee, it is better to try to get it each year. I am sorry for those who have lost their loved ones the way we lost my sister, it was devastating. She was a vibrant and healthy 48 yr old mother and wife.
    God bless this family with strength and peace, prayers for all.

  • Suzi

    Very sad & tragic….two things jump out at me though….#1 she had pneumonia & a bacterial infection, in addition to the flu…so this is NOT a case where she died simply from influenza, as the headline implies…& #2 the mother says to run to the doctor with the first sign of a sniffle…NO, that quote should NEVER have been used…now doctors’ offices will be packed with people who should be at home instead & folks who are TRULY ill won’t be able to get in…

    • Renee

      Suzi, my facts were straight from medical professionals and coroners. They have told us that this is a horrible flu and to come as soon as she start to fill funny it has killed 21 people in days. Excuse me for trying to spread the word to save some lives. I pray that you never have to deal with what my family has went through. God bless you

  • Judy

    Please do not judge, God is the only one to do that. Jennifer was a person that let everyone no that she loved the LORD and witness to everyone. She let everyone no that God was #1 in her live and Her Pictures and her favoriate Bible Verses on her pictures that she took of Nature.She gave more than she ever received, she did care packages for the needy, made the newcomers to her church feel welcome with a smile and and glad you are here. She said put away the cell phones, computors, walk out side and see what God have given to you, Birds singing, the beautiful flowers and all of God’s Nature. We are not promised tomorrow, so enjoy what God has given to us today and it is a blessing that we got up this morning and was able to see that. To no Jennifer was to love her. My Prayer is that God will Carry the family during this time and until you have lost a sister, daughter, friend please don’t judge.


  • Joann Canoy Beck

    In Feb. 2000 I woke up suddenly one morning very sick and in pain. Went to the doctor was diagnosed with the flu, placed on medications and pain relievers. In less than 48 hours my fever was 105 and I could not move. I went to the ER and was admitted with pneumonia. After several test and having 2 chest tubes placed while I was awake Dr. Cruz in High Point done a complete reconstruction of my right lung. I was in a coma, on life support in ICU for 7 days. I had a bacterial pneumonia called Pneumococcal Pneumonia. I was in the hospital for a month. I am very luck to be alive. I swear more by the pnemonia shot than I do the flu shot! But at my first site of pain with fever I am at the doctor! My heart goes out to this young girl and her family!!

  • BB

    A family does not post vaccine propaganda. What is wrong with people? This is a family grieving and wanting to share their grief and warn others what happened to their loved one. It is up to the individual after reading their story to decide if a flu shot is right for them. So sorry this beautiful, giving young lady passed away. May God shelter her family during their grief.

  • Renee

    This is Renee’s sister and I am completely shocked that people would make the above remarks such as her weight, or a beach house payment being true. MY WORDS WERE REAL!!!!!! MY TEARS WERE REAL. May God bless yall because yall are horrible.

  • Renee

    Candyapple, you need to truly ask God to forgive you my parents, family are grieving. We were asked to share her story. I would love to see what you look like. You must be a very sad person

  • Renee

    We were asked to share our story to warn others like yourself about getting the flu. You did not watch your sister die from the flu. That interview was the hardest thing I ever had to do. My tears have not stopped until you are in my shoes don’t judge me. I pray that this tragedy does not happen to someone in your famly

      • Renee

        Thank you Joann, that was my intentions. You had the same symptoms that my sister had I am glad you made it through. Continue to get yourself checked. Thank you for your prayers and good thoughts. Thank you everyone for the positive remarks

  • Renee

    I stopped by this site, because people had told me they had left kind remarks and I wanted to see how many people our story may have helped. I was approached by channel 8 to share my sisters story and to warn people how serious this was to people in their 20’s. Normal healthy people all sizes, all genders, all races. My sister was a person of peace and never bothered a soul. I have worked in healthcare many years and saw people including my grandmother who was 90lbs die of same thing. It has no preference. Its a horrible disease and fast acting. At first sign of feeling funny yes patients should rush to the doctor I know of other people who almost died with the same thing. It is nothing to take lightly. My family who are reading this to see how our story may have helped someone is reading this and we are grieving, shocked and hurt. If you have any decency in you as a human being you will keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself. I have never saw such unappropriate comments that have totally floored me. I thank Fox 8 for approaching us to do this story to help other people realize how serious this flu and pneumonia and the bacteria infection is in hopes to save all of your lives including the ones that are making ugly comments. I pray that the good Lord will forgive you of your remarks and you realize that the same thing could happen to someone you love. Watch what you say to others you could be in there shoes. Thank you Fox 8 for caring enough about my sister to share her story and to help others.

  • Kymm Ballard

    Thanks for stepping out Renee. You planted a seed that God can grow. You are not responsible if people don’t understand. Jennifer would be proud of you. “Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”

  • Leslie

    Renee, ignore the ignorance. People come onto articles like this just to stir stuff up. Thank you for sharing this story with us, the flu and pneumonia are nothing to mess around with. Maybe this will help others seek medical attention when they get the flu (no, not just a sniffle). If you feel unwell, fever, hard time breathing, and just not “right” PLEASE go see the doctor. DO NOT WAIT.

    Renee I pray for peace for your family. God rest her beautiful soul.

  • Gera Miller

    Renee, I’m so sorry to hear about Jennifer’s death. We are praying for you and your family. Jennifer was a very special girl, and a sweet friend. We’ll all miss her.
    Gera Miller

  • Tina Terwilliger Tippett

    So very sorry for your loss of your sister. Our (from my family) deepest condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. I can not and don’t even want to imagine what you all are going through. I hope you can find some comfort during this hard time.

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