JMak's Story

JMak - May 2021:

So here’s the deal. I’m 47. I have an incredible wife who is a doctor and a Senior VP at the American Cancer Society (what are the odds?!?!!). I have two unique and quirky boys, Timothy (12) and Jonathan (9). I have a dog, Chance, and a cat, Apollo. I am in the prime of life. And I was just given a “death sentence” with stage IV pancreatic cancer. 

I have always said that I wanted to live my life like I was writing a book. Now I am. 

Well, actually I started to live that way a couple of years ago. Here’s a short run down on my life and how I got to this moment in time. 


I grew up in Michigan on a lake. Typical white, suburban middle class family in the midwest. I went to Catholic school. My parents taught me the value of hard work and treating others right. I went to the University of Michigan and became an engineer. I trained with General Electric and followed the American Dream searching for happiness. My career grew over the years and I ultimately became the Chief Operating Officer of a hospital in the D.C. area (which was my favorite job). I met and married my best friend who is a successful doctor and a Senior VP at the American Cancer Society. We have two boys. And a dog and a cat. We’ve lived in Denver, D.C. and Atlanta. People would consider us having it “all”. 

But honestly, I knew there was more to life. 


So I quit my corporate job and left my good salary. I had to pursue more in life. I was searching for purpose and deeper meaning. I was searching for God in a deeper way.  Two years ago I truly started a new journey in life when I stopped playing it safe, playing by the rules, and I started truly living life to the fullest. I was meant to live big. But until I was willing to take a risk and step away from the comfortable and mundane, I couldn’t really soar. 


Over the last two years, I have found the most purpose and life through my volunteer work in Lima, Peru. It has been there that I have experienced God in a deeper way, I have found greater freedom, and I have found the purpose that I have been looking for. 


I was in Lima working with Venezuelan refugees helping them open a bakery so that they could make a living wage. I wasn’t just helping them open a bakery though, I was watching God change people’s lives right before me. (You can READ MORE about my friend Xavier's remarkable transformation). 


Then I got sick. I couldn’t eat. I was in a lot of pain. I was literally turning yellow. Something was wrong. I came back to the States. Laura picked me up from the airport at 6:00 am. We drove straight to urgent care. They did some tests and scans. And then the doctor came in and told me the news. “There’s a mass on your pancreas. It’s cancer.” 


I started this blog to share my story and my experience. The terminal cancer diagnosis has given me the greatest opportunity of my life. There is a lot I am excited about. A lot I have to share. I am learning a lot about life, about God, about truly living, and about not being limited by anything. Even time.


I want to share my journey—all of it. The joy. The love. The family. The inspiration. But the thing I want to share the most is what God is doing in my life. Because at the end of the day, that is truly the only thing that really matters.