The Jane Connection

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That's Jane on the far right. Incredibly confident. Sweet as they come. Loving. Glowing Grandma. Wife. Mother. Patriot. Jane succumbed to her cancer yesterday and as I look at this picture, all I can see is the incredible weaving of a purposeful life. 

Jane and I met just under 2 years ago as she was diagnosed with a rather complex cancer. She and I connected immediately and we spent significant time together during her initial diagnoses and treatment protocol. Around this same time was when I also referred a child to Dr. Jay Storm at CHOP and learned about the Children's Brain Tumor Tissue Consortium. More specifically Cavatica, as the first and only free cancer data-sharing platform in the world. As part of Joe Biden's Cancer Moonshot Initiative to encourage the world to collaborate together for cancer cures, I was riveted. So was Jane. She was hoping there were clinical trials that may extend her life and so did I. With renewed interest in the cancer process, a process I have experienced hundreds of times with patients in my healthcare career, I became committed to the future of data-sharing. The realization of how this would impact the future of cancer, the ability to have international research data placed in one location to benefit ALL patients became my personal objective as well. I became a strong voice in the community for the future of cancer and Jane and I would have many discussions about this during her own personal journey.

Within 6 months, I formulated a plan to assist the CBTTC and its international mission. Initially this would include a "Committee" on the west coast to kick off our journey. The Committee was easily formed and included a few of California's most connected and passionate leaders, doctors and celebrities. It also included three families walking their own cancer journey, one of which was my sweet friend Jane. In December, 2016 we gathered for an intimate dinner of 50 to discuss plans and goals for this international endeavor. The picture I am sharing is from that evening and includes Mike Garson (David Bowie's long-time composer, pianist, and friend), CJ and Lisalla Wilson (Angels Pitcher and his wife, an international supermodel), Jane's personal Physician and spouse, myself, and Jane. Together we planned our introductory event in Los Angeles. The concert that would introduce, encourage, support and urge the international healthcare community to "collaborate for cures" by joining the data-sharing movement. On this night, Jane and her family and friends enjoyed a lovely night knowing they were part of a growing movement for the future of cancer. A legacy Jane wanted to leave. 

Two weeks ago, Jane's friends received a personal letter from her, some of which I will share as a tribute to the incredible person she was:

 

"I Have Been Blessed"

I have been blessed with family who love me and whom I love deeply. Jim and I have tried to accomplish one of the greatest tasks set before people...to leave the world better than you found it. Hopefully I have touched your life for the better as you have mine.  Because I love you so much, I wanted you to know that the cancer that I have has not responded to treatments or clinical trials. My doctors and I have decided that the best path forward is for my medical team to focus on keeping me as comfortable as possible. I am getting better at goodbyes....but words still catch in my throat and I lack the energy needed to speak to each of you personally so please know this:

Throughout my entire life I have had you by my side. Different friends at different times. Some friends at all times. I want to thank you deeply for being a ripple on the water that gently eased my boat through this life. 

I am at peace. I am still counting my blessings and you are among them.  Love, Jane

 

As I have reflected on Jane's life, what she meant to me personally, and looked back at this picture together, what stands out to me is how she weaved a life that could forever change our cancer path. Jane seemed to intuitively understand that she herself could not be saved but that she could forever leave a legacy to leave the world better than she had found it.

 

To Jane:  In our time together, I knew you were always at peace and I felt it! You mattered in life and I will forever think of you and your determination. We will continue our cancer fight; for you and with you. Together we continue to encourage the world to "collaborate for cures." What a blessing YOU were to each of us.