Honoring Jeff

It has taken some time to figure out what feels right in acknowledging and honoring Jeff’s life on this blog. He’s been gone just over 2 months.

We created Secondhand Cancer while visiting one of our favorite spots in WA – the San Juan Islands. We broke away in between chemotherapy cycles to get a bit of quiet time. Our hope for the website was that by sharing real-life perspective, it might help others to live through the everyday demands of cancer with strength, courage, and compassion.

As our lives unfolded with each new post, so did the disease, ultimately spreading to his bones and liver.


He passed on April 4th as I held him and watched him take his final breath. And, I was given the ultimate gift of seeing him without pain and at peace. It was an unforgettable moment in time.

Like most things in life, it’s only until we have experienced sitting in the seat do we fully understand and comprehend the magnitude of a situation.

Fighting two different types of cancer in less than 10 years, we, unfortunately, had our share (perhaps, more than) of experiences to learn what this disease can and cannot do.

My desire for Secondhand Cancer has been to call attention to the importance of advocacy, regardless of disease stage or progression; to honor the courage and strength of cancer caregivers and to provide tools that help everyone involved better cope with what can often seem like an unfair, scary and at times, lonely path.

I haven’t figured out what’s next for Secondhand Cancer. There are many posts still to be written that Jeff and I planned to share before his health turned. Tools that I hope might provide comfort and a sense of community to others experiencing similar challenges. And guidance to family and friends looking to provide love and support. For now, my focus is on grieving. As the words find their way from heart to hand, I will post.

I invite you to please celebrate Jeff’s life with me through these photos, poems, quotes and meaningful moments from Jeff’s celebration of life. The impact he made and will continue to make, across the lives of others is far reaching. He is missed dearly.



We Remember Him

When we are weary and in need of strength,

When we are lost and sick at heart, we remember him.

When we have a joy we crave to share,

When we have decisions that are difficult to make, we remember him.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember him.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of the summer,

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn, we remember him.

At the rising of the sun and at its setting, we remember him.

As long as we live, he too will live, for he is now a part of us,

As we remember him.

Birth is a Beginning

Birth is a beginning, and death a destination.

And life is a journey; from childhood to maturity

And youth to age; from innocence to awareness

And ignorance to knowing; and then, perhaps to wisdom;

From weakness to strength; or strength to weakness

And often back again; from health to sickness

And back, we pray, to health again;

From offense to forgiveness

From loneliness to love, from joy to gratitude

From pain to compassion, and grief to understanding

From fear to faith;

From defeat to defeat to defeat

Until looking backward or ahead, we see the victory lies

Not at some high place along the way.

But in having made the journey, stage by stage.

A sacred pilgrimage.

Birth is a beginning

And death is a destination.

And life is a journey, a sacred pilgrimage –

To life everlasting.

He Is Gone

You can shed tears that he is gone,

Or you can smile because he has lived.

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back,

Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left.

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him,

Or you can be full of the love that you shared.

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,

Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.

You can remember him and only that he is gone,

Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on.

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,

Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.


Irish Blessing

May the road rise up to meet you,

May the wind be always at your back,

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

May the rain fall soft upon your fields,

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

4 thoughts on “Honoring Jeff

  1. I’m so proud of and inspired by your courage to not only live this journey publicly, but also to really LIVE. It would be easy to isolate and drift away into seclusion. No one would blame you. But instead you’ve continued…as we all must…especially at times when our heart is gripped with uncertainty, grief and loneliness. Your continuing brings hope, help and solace to those just behind on this journey…a lighthouse displacing the darkness of what lies ahead. Fear of the unknown keeps many of us ‘safely’ confined in our comfort zones. You march on ahead, slaying the fears before us and shining a light on the beautiful…even in this. Continue to LIVE and in so doing, your journey with Jeff lives on. One love ❤️ ✌

    1. Thank you, my friend, for your compassionate and graceful words. You have captured perfectly the thoughts that rattle around and I am hopeful that my going through this journey at a younger age (younger than what most of us anticipate with a life partner), it will help others realize they too can march on.

  2. Hey Jen,
    Who wrote Birth is a Beginning and He is Gone?
    I love The Irish Blessing. My choir sings an arrangement of that text every March around St Patrick’s Day. It’s beautiful.

    Thinking of you.

    1. Birth is a beginning was written by: Rabbi Alvin Fine, a rabbi at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. He is Gone was written by: David Harkins

Comments are closed.