My wife Jenn has been recently diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer.
It's crazy for me to type that sentence.
I met Jenn in December of 1994. Cliché, I know, but I still remember the day very clearly. She was walking through the snow into my job at the time, and her long curly hair was speckled with snowflakes. She absolutely floored me. She was dropping off an application and soon after got hired. I was psyched. I fumbled my words and did a bunch of dumb stuff to try and get her attention. For some unknown reason, she noticed. Finding out from a mutual friend who later forced the issue, it turned out that my interest in her was mutual. Luckiest guy, ever...
Fast-forward to October of 1997...we got married. We were both relatively young at the time, (both 21 years old). Next month, we will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. People are usually flabbergasted when I tell them that we got married that young, but I was absolutely certain that day in December that there was something incredibly special about her. One of the best things I've ever done...
When we first started dating, she was going to school for Early Childhood Education. After moving to Oakland, she finished her schooling and got her degree with a focus on children with special needs. For the majority of her career, Jenn has worked with special needs children (mostly Autism) and low-income families. Most of her employers have been non-profit organizations.
It's truly amazing to see her in her element, working with kids. The way kids light up when they see her is really something special to witness. She has received some letters and e-mails from parents and co-workers that are so heartfelt and filled with so much praise...it's unbelievable. But Jenn isn't the type of person to tell people about it or brag about the kind words she receives on a regular basis. She reads the letter, gets a little emotional and keeps it moving. She's a natural at what she does and she loves doing it.
For those of you who know me via my music side, my musical output would not have been possible without Jenn. She has been one of my biggest supporters and has always made sure that I have time to work on music. At least one night a week, she hangs out with our daughter, Aiko, and shoos me into my studio and closes the door. She never bat an eyelash when I started touring and would be gone for months at a time. She never complained when I spent long hours working on finishing up an album. She has always been an inspiration and a massive supporter of what I do musically. I truly can say that I would not have made the music I've made without her.
Hodgkin's Lymphoma is the most treatable form of cancer. We've been hearing from friends who know people who have gone through this. We've been reading stories about people who have gone through this. For the most part, people are actually cured and go on to live normal lives after treatment. That was the best news to hear during this whole thing.
The bad news is that Jenn most likely won't be able to work until after her treatment is complete. Chemotherapy lowers your immune system and makes you susceptible to germs and other illnesses. Anyone who has been in a classroom of 14 toddlers knows how much of a life sized petri dish that environment is. Her employer has been working with her and been incredibly supportive, but she has 6 months of treatment and we're just not certain how her body will react to the chemo.
Jenn and I have always found it hard to ask for help from anyone. Friends and family included. We've always tried to be as self-sufficient as possible. The amount of love and support we have received in the last month has been incredibly overwhelming. It's been a time of learning for us to let go of our pride and let people help. Our close friend, Sonya Tomlinson has set up a Go Fund Me account to help us stay afloat financially. As difficult as it's been to allow people to help, it has really made me realize how lucky we are to have so many great friends and family (and even people we don't know that well) helping us out.
If you are interested in donating, here is where to do it.
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