It is with a broken heart that I make this announcement. At 1:06am on June 24, 2015 God called a draw between Jim and his disease. Jim always said that when he passed away he wasn't losing his fight with cancer that it would be a draw because the cancer would die with him.
Jim was loved by many and touched the lives of more people than he ever knew. Jim never though he was anything special he thought of himself as just a schmuck doing his job. Whether that job was standing watch on the fantail of the ship when he was in the navy or doing what was needed to take care of his family, Jim did what he could to get the job done. Those of us who knew him, knew better. He was more than he ever gave himself credit for. He was a sailor who stood shoulder to shoulder with other brave souls to form a line that kept us all safe. Without their service and sacrifice in peacetime this country would be a much different place. Jim told me once that when he saw how the men and women returning from Vietnam were treated it broke his heart and was a big part of why he wanted to serve the country he loved. Once shortly after he enlisted he was in an airport in his Navy blues and a young boy ran up to him and started to salute him. It made him so happy until the boy's mother came up and, with a look of disdain directed at him, pulled her son away from Jim, as if he would hurt the boy. That memory stayed with him always and hurt him more, I think, than almost anything else in his life. But after wiping a tear from his eye, he got a fierce look on his face and told me that even though he had been treated that way, he had been more determined than ever to serve his country and help protect her people. He told me often that one of his favorite feelings was standing midnight watch on the fantail of the USS Fulton and looking toward shore knowing that everyone he loved was home safe in their beds, in part to him. His love of country ran deep.
Jim was funny, salty, stubborn and had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever known. He didn't let many people into his inner circle but those he did were loved fiercely and he would do anything to help and protect them. Even though he sometimes came across as gruff and curmudgeonly no one ever seemed to mind because it was never done with malicious intent. It was an oddly endearing quality and made people look forward to the next time they could see him. I spoke with his favorite doctor and asked her to tell the nurses on the infusion floor at MD Anderson Cancer Center that Jim had passed. She told me that everyone in the building already knew and that on Wednesday fully a third of the e-mails in her inbox where from people asking her if she had heard the news.
One thing Jim did that he acknowledged has a positive impact on the world is raising an amazing son. He wanted to be able to see the man Jimmy would become and he was never more proud than watching his son walk the stage at graduation as a distinguished scholar. He loved Jimmy above all else in this world and will always be watching over and protecting him.
But in his mind, he had no impact on this world! We all knew better and the world was definitely a better place for him being in it! So if you knew Jim, please take a moment to think of your favorite story with him, laugh, smile and hug someone you love.
I am not going to close this fundraiser early. Any further funds raised will go toward funeral expenses and anything above those expenses will be donated to the American cancer society.
Thank you to everyone who helped Jim with donations and words of love and support.
We've all seen the silly, funny fundraisers out there to help people learn how to make potato salad or to help shopaholics pay off their credit cards or pay for fake boobs and $10,000 gold iWatches. These fundraisers tend to go viral and raise tens of thousands of dollars.
I did a fundraiser last year because my husband has stage IV esophageal cancer and the co-pays and medical bills have been crippling. We have struggled month to month and had to put off doing anything on his bucket list due to lack of funds. My fundraiser didn't go viral (most that I have seen with a serious cause don't) and didn't even raise $2000. My husband and I are grateful to those who donated to the last fundraiser because they helped us be able to keep his treatment going. But, we were disappointed that there is more support for potato salad than there is for someone fighting for their life!
I want to see if a fundraiser to help someone dealing with the devastating effects of cancer can get at least as much, if not more, funding than a fundraiser without a serious cause. I am sending out a challenge to the denizens of the web to see if they can forgo their daily latte at their favorite coffee shop for a day/week/month and instead donate that amount to help make my husband's fight a little easier.
THE FACE BEHIND THE CANCER:
My husband's name is Jim and he is a 55 yr old Navy veteran; loving husband, father and brother who has been dealing with medical issues for years. In September of 2013 we got the devastating news that he had stage IV esophageal cancer that spread to his liver. Jim began chemotherapy in October 2013 and was going for treatment every two weeks. After several changes in his chemo protocol he now goes every week for treatment.
This has been a difficult journey for Jim and it would be nice to have his faith in people restored by seeing that strangers can reach out and help one another for no other reason than it is the right thing to do.
THE FINAL PLEA:
Please help me help my husband be able to just focus on spending whatever time he has left with his son and me and not worry about finances. Please consider accepting my challenge by donating the price of a latte (or more if you can) and share this fundraiser with everyone you can.