Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Strength of Community

Workplace giving and Community Shares are rooted in the concept that we are stronger together than we are alone. I want to share a story with you about how I embraced that idea and how my renewed understanding of what community means changed the course of my life very literally.

At 4pm on Thursday, January 22, 2009 I suffered a seizure while driving northbound on I-25 on my way home from work to Fort Collins. I don't remember much about the incident, just the flashing lights and gridlocked traffic as the firemen pulled me out of the driver's seat. The 8 other vanpoolers who were accompanying me that day walked away unharmed and their quick wits and sharp reactions are the reason I'm still here.

The situation would continue to escalate after I was immediately taken to North Suburban Medical Center and told that I had a brain tumor. For the next few months a dark cloud of uncertain urgency descended over my family. It was the most difficult period of my life. I have climbed mountains all over the world and been in scary spots before but at 29 years old, and in the best shape of my life, this particular challenge was one I never saw coming.

I think that for anyone who faces great uncertainty there is the moment when you ask yourself, "How am I going to get through this?"

And at that moment of doubt support started to pour in from places I never expected. The Community Shares family came to the rescue. My coworkers rallied around me with t-shirts, buttons, and inspiration to form the J Karma Army. Karma is the spiritual belief that by giving back to others we can become stronger, better people.

Mindy Davidson from Project Angel Heart personally drove a care package to me and my wife in Fort Collins so we wouldn't have to worry about cooking. Members sent cards, called, and offered support in every imaginable way. Two miniature dachshunds were welcomed into our home in the spring and we smiled and laughed for the first time in months.

No single person could provide enough strength to get me through that experience, but together we became mighty. Looking into the eye of that storm I realized for the first time in my life how much stronger we become when we join together instead of going it alone. I am and have always been fiercely independent. My favorite saying as a young child was, "You're not the boss of my body." My parents remind me of this with a chuckle and a wink.

It is both humbling and inspiring to me that I needed to be on the receiving end to understand just how valuable giving truly is.

It's been twenty-one months since my experience began. I have completed a round of chemo, my wife and I are expecting our first baby, and I have returned to climbing and photographing the grandness of Colorado's mountains. My work at Community Shares is a daily reminder that life can change at any moment. I've seen what it is to give and receive when you need it most.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Champ

Garrett Karp a senior on the Rocky Mountain Lobos Basketball team comes into the game against cross town rival Fort Collins High School and hits a 3 point basket. Garrett had just found out the day of the game that his cancer was in remission. This game was played on Tuesday, February 16th, 2010.
Garrett is a friend of mine and the J Karma Army wishes him well in his battle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

One Year Later

Hi everybody,

I'm not very good about posting updates. Please feel free to connect one on one at any time. Today is the one year anniversary of the seizure that started this whole process. I smacked into the left side barrier onf the 1-25 express lanes at about 4:30pm on Jan. 22, 2009. Luckily I was with seasoned road warriors who took care of the situation and saved the day.

I didn't think that today would be such a big deal to me but it is. I remember how I felt seeing the paramedics pull me out of the van. I remember not knowing what was happening. I remember gridlocked traffic and flashing lights. I remember the ER doc telling me he thought I had a brain tumor. I remember talking to Becky on the phone and the subsequent conversations. with people I love.

I've been through 10 rounds of chemo at this point and it is still really hard to define exactly where we are at, but we've made progress and we're moving forward one day at a time. There are good days ahead and bad days ahead but we'll get through it together. I face the same level of certainty as everyone else. You wake up one morning and things get turned upside down so try your best to live gratefully.

I hope to get out for some vacations this year with my wife, family, and my good friends. I'd like to think that we deserve it. I can't express the feelings of gratitude I have in my heart for everyone who reads this blog and who wishes me and my family well. My faith has grown stronger and your prayers and well wishes DO make a big difference. Never underestimate the power of your words or your thoughts.

I want to mention my wife. I couldn't do this without her and she has to be the one who deals with "cranky chemo Jason." Nobody else has to see that side of me luckily. I still feel really loved and she takes good care of me. There is no luckier person and I seriously mean that.

I also want to mention those who have been given a bad hand and are dealing with it. I want to tell John, John, Garrett, and your families how much I admire you and that I'll continue to pray for you all.

Times are tough right now for a lot of people. The country of Haiti has been devastated and thousands of people have had their lives completely changed. I don't have a specific charity in mind because I think you should give to the organizations you believe in, but please consider doing a little something for those people.

Become a better person today and watch the world around you get better too. Thanks for everything.