Back in October of 2008, I blogged about J.P. Gallagher, a friend of mine who’d just learned he had stomach cancer.
It was a scary time. So many questions no one could answer. Was the cancer spreading? Would it respond to radiation and chemo? How would he and his wife accommodate the birth of their third child just weeks after the docs would take out J.P.’s stomach? Life would change, for sure, but what would it look like, and how would they live it?
Well, I have good news. J.P. kicked the shit out of that cancer.
The past 20 months threw just about everything they could at J.P. and his family. Those 20 months gave, and they took away. A daughter was born. New friendships were made. Just weeks after J.P.’s surgery, his father died — later, his sister passed away, too. But the world kept spinning, and J.P. and his family kept fighting, and living.
Now, there’s nothing serendipitous about cancer. I know that. But there is something remarkable how a variety of circumstances came together to create something truly amazing out of something that had been downright awful.
Part of it was the fact J.P. always had a passion for the non-profit sector — he’d been elected chairman of the board for at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC): Southwest, and he’d earned an MBA with concentrations in marketing and public/non-profit management. Another part of it was the fact that, through his treatment, J.P. had gotten to know some of the world’s leaders in gastric cancer research, and that he just happened to work for a company that made the computers needed to assist with that research.
Toss in the fact that, back in October ’08, his wife Cindy insisted he see a doctor about a swallowing problem and that, had he not gone, he’d likely be dead today, and you start to wonder if this is where J.P. is supposed to be — back in the saddle of life, full of energy, surviving cancer and starting The Gastric Cander Fund, which aims to do nothing short of finding a cure for the disease. With J.P.’s vision as well as the help of his employer, NetApp, the foundation aims to provide one lucky research group everything it would need — the money, the computers, the medical collaboration — to find the root cause of gastric cancer.
Pretty fricking cool.
And if you’re wondering how in the hell J.P. ever found the time and energy (let alone the vision) to start something like this while fighting for his life and mourning the loss of loved ones, on top of everything else, I don’t have an answer.
I’m thinking about a friend, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.
NOTE: This marks the beginning of what I hope will be an occasional series in which I tell you about friends doing some pretty cool things.