I hate writing these words.
There are two parts to this story. The first part—Jamie's cancer—many of you already know. The other part, which has unfolded behind-the-scenes, few people know. Please read on.
Jamie—the husband, father, brother, son, cousin, uncle, and friend we all love—has been fighting an aggressive and insidious cancer for more than three years. He was diagnosed in January of 2018, shortly after he and Amy had their 3rd child, and he earned a promotion at work that enabled him to move his family to Virginia. The cancer exploded in him due to a genetic anomaly he learned about when he was diagnosed. Jamie has since been through countless massive surgeries, endured grueling lengthy hospital stays without seeing his children due to COVID-19 restrictions, painful brain infections, and the now loss of his mobility and independence.
But, he's never lost hope. Or his fighting spirit. Every day he says to me, "I will never give up for Amy and the kids."
Over the past three years, we've watched him put the kids to bed while wearing his chemo pump--exhausted from the treatment. We've watched him move the Elf of the Shelf at midnight with his walker and shaking hands, just to delight the kids in the morning. We've watched him insist on washing dishes from his wheelchair—soaking himself and the kitchen—just so Amy could get some rest. We've watched him interview for new jobs over Zoom—just days out of surgery and while propped up in a hospital bed—believing he'd recover, find work, and fix everything. We've watched him take the boys fishing—one last time, while unable to walk or stand—just so they'd have the memory of fishing with their daddy.
The man is a hero. And, soon, we will lose him.
We imagine most of you know that part of the story. What you may not know—because Jamie is a proud old-fashioned and private person—is the other part of the tragedy.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamie was furloughed by his employer due to the disruptions it caused in his industry. After loyally working 17 years with the company and a half-dozen or more promotions—and while fighting stage 4 cancer—Jamie lost his income, his health insurance, and—most disastrously—his employer-based life insurance.
Jamie didn't want to do it, but he collected unemployment payments...until they ran out. Jamie didn't want to do it, but he filed an application for disability payments—which was approved—but due to errors or red tape, the payments are still missing. Jamie and Amy have been relying on the support and generosity of family, friends, and neighbors to feed the kids and keep their home—while fighting cancer, while raising three kids, while fighting large government agencies, amid a global pandemic when every agency is overwhelmed.
And despite all these immense challenges facing the family...the kids are happy. They're loved. They're safe. Jamie and Amy are showing us all the humbling power of true love and an unshakable dedication to one's family. (And you, this community, are showing us the life-saving importance of family and friends.)
With Jamie's passing approaching, he is both desperate to leave Amy some money to help support their three young children, and panicked that after so many years of working so hard to build a secure life for his family, he has nothing to leave behind.
We are putting together this GoFundMe in the hopes we can ask you, our amazing community—one more time—for your support in putting together a fund that will help Amy move to where she can work, get situated in a safe place for herself and the kids, and give Jamie peace in the knowledge that his family is safe. He's earned it.
If you can give, please do. If you can spread the word, please do. You have our immense gratitude.
We love you all. Thank you for all you've done for Jamie, Amy, Brynn, Killian, and Elliott.
Jesse and Piper McDougall
Honored and Blessed to Be Jamie's Brother & Sister