ZZ – Hold Fast and Jim Brown’s Inspiration

This article is brief tribute to my fellow South American volunteer, fellow cancer survivor, Pre-school assistant extraordinaire and my friend, Jim Brown, and his inspiring “Hold Fast” philosophy.

I First Learned of Hold Fast in Lima, Peru

Not long ago I was volunteering in Lima, Peru.   I had gotten the opportunity to travel  there with a wonderful charity called “A Fresh Chapter.”  This organization coordinates volunteer opportunities for cancer survivors and current patients.  The A Fresh Chapter program provided me and my fellow attendees a chance to transcend our illness and give back, and by doing so we were giving to ourselves a renewed spirit, renewed faith in humanity and a growing faith in our own future.

Then, when Jim was diagnosed with cancer, he used his Hold Fast outlook of personal strength and resilience to stay strong for his family.


While in Peru, I met a guy named Jim Brown. He’s open, authentic, vulnerable, and his heart was being revolutionize by this experience. While spending time there, Jim shared with me his “Hold Fast” outlook on life. He told me how it started when his father was ill several years ago, and he needed something to help him personally stay strong. His Hold Fast outlook became his mantra.  Then, when Jim was diagnosed with cancer, he used this outlook of personal strength and resilience to stay strong for his family. Today, Jim advocates on many fronts for other people with cancer, and he uses his Hold Fast outlook to educate and inspire others who are facing similar illnesses.

After facing my own health battle and surviving cancer treatments in 2017, I have a great appreciation for Jim and his philosophy.   I had no mantra during my time of illness, but I did throw myself at life in the days after I faced my mortality. It was that energy and the desire to make every minute worthwhile that contributed to me taking off not just on a new adventure, but on a new path of life. 

My Learning to Hold Fast

So, after saying goodbye to Jim and the rest of my new A Fresh Chapter Tribe friends in Peru, I headed down the South American continent towards the End of the World.  About two months later, I found myself landing on the Antarctic peninsula. Getting here was not easy.  The voyage went directly through a stretch of ocean called Drake’s Passage which is known for being one of the world’s most violent seas, and it did not disappoint. 

After making a zodiac landing on the continent in subzero weather, I checked in with the expedition guides and set off to hike alone along the ridge of a glacial inlet. In the solitude and starkness of this place, I began to reflect on many things. Thoughts of those that braved unthinkable hardships to voyage to this land were present. The sacrifices they made to take on their quest and the courage they possessed do it was profound. And then my heart moved to thinking about others who possessed those same qualities. And my thoughts turned to the many people I have met with illnesses that were facing extreme hardship too. Like those intrepid explorers of the past, these people also showed amazing levels of courage, faith and fearlessness that equaled those of the original adventurers.

People have asked how I and others with similar diagnoses could remain positive and persevere through our cancer journeys. At the time I would articulate as best I could, but trying to capture that outlook, that spirit and that gathering of strength into words often escaped me. It was in part because we were not always positive and at times we questioned our own perseverance.

But watching my friend Jim was both heartwarming and enlightening. Despite openly acknowledging the same challenges and struggles mentioned above, he grabbed onto and applied his mantra. And in doing so, he modeled for all of us that we can do such a thing too.

I will always be grateful to Jim and the many inspiring and courageous people I have met on my journey.

Today now, thanks to Jim, I have the words to say that I plan to “Hold Fast” too. 

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