It only seems like a step backward

Holidays are a fantastic time to get together with the people that you just somehow lost touch with during the year. We’ve been doing exactly that in a very intentional way. Today, however, was a special opportunity to have pizza at Mama’s in South Pasadena with Jon Dephouse, a friend who was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma cancer and is a few months into his treatment. His story was covered recently in a local newspaper.

Impromptu pelotons

251941_4136229727713_1152271468_nI met Jon riding laps around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It is a relatively flat 3.1 mile loop that is very popular with cyclists and runners and a great place to form your very own impromptu, Tour de France mini-peloton as you ride. One day about seven years ago, a rider came up from behind as I rode and politely asked, “I’m not sure of the etiquette, but can I ride with you?” I looked back to see he had an expensive bike but his gear wasn’t up to ‘Rose Bowl standards’. He might have even been wearing a t-shirt. I said, “Sure.”

This is Pasadena where even the out of shape riders have the same technology as Lance Armstrong. It turns out Jon was just getting started but was an amazingly strong rider. We met again a couple of days later and by the third ride he was much stronger than me even though I’d ridden longer. We became good friends and his family even joined us at Kings Canyon one summer.

Doing everything right

When we read on Facebook that Jon had cancer, it was a complete shock. He and his wife compete in iron man triathlons and are complete physical specimens. They have two small children that should by all genetic rights be olympic medalists of the future. Jon has been an Episcopal minister for four years and is one of the kindest and most gentle people I’ve ever known. Young, strong, smart, kind…it just didn’t make sense to hear “cancer” associated with Jon Dephouse. He was doing everything right.

When we took the time to catch up today I asked, “What surprised you the most about this challenge?” Jon thought for a second before he said, “I didn’t realize what it would be like to subject myself to treatment that made me sick when I never felt sick to start with.” He only had a painless lump in his gluteal muscle and wasn’t feeling any discomfort. That struck me personally.

Making hard choices

Jon Dephouse

Most of us aren’t experiencing a life-threatening condition and would never consider taking a step backward or going through hard times to create a better future. Jon had no choice…getting sicker intentionally was the only way to alter the path of his very rare cancer, . The rest of us may be on a career-limiting or unhealthy track that just doesn’t seem as urgent as Jon’s situation, so we are unwilling to take a step back, cut down, experience discomfort, assume the risk, or go through the pain of a much-needed change.

But Jon has a wife to share a life with, children to raise and a parish to care for. That gives him more than enough incentive to do what’s necessary to survive cancer. For me, I see it as a reminder of the need to take the right steps to make a better tomorrow and not just stay on my comfortable, easy path. I shouldn’t require a life-threatening circumstance to do the things that make a better future.

We’re only a few days away from 2013, so what better time to do it? Thank you, Jon, for being an inspiration for the sick and the ostensibly healthy.

Information about the Help Jon Dephouse Fight Cancer Fund can be found at You Caring.

John’s wife, Sarah Lynn, maintains a blog on his fight at Biking Before Dawn


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Categories: Inspiration, Story

Author:Chris Taylor

Reimagining the way work is done through big data, analytics, and event processing. There's no end to what we can change and improve. I wear myself out...

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One Comment on “It only seems like a step backward”

  1. Russ McNees
    December 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    After having spent a few days with John and his family, I have no doubt in my mind that they will emerge from this situation stronger than before.

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