Jim Stanicki: An Online Inspiration on Dying Well


Jim Stanicki is at a party, where he's having a great time with his family and friends. But when it's time to go, he says he has to go, and his intention is to go well.

Stanicki says it is his life that is the party.

After being diagnosed with bronchoalveolar cancer almost four years ago, Stanicki has shared the highs and lows of his journey with friends online through Inspire.com, a health and wellness social network that covers a wide range of health conditions, diseases, and topics.

For years, Stanicki, 60, a former software developer from Denmark, Maine, said his body was a battleground in the war on cancer. After years of treatments and little success, he said he had enough.

"I realized that, for me, a day living on chemo is a day I'm not living," said Stanicki. "I'd rather walk outside, live a life, and breathe the air for as long as I can."

Stanicki took the option of palliative care.

And since his decision, Stanicki said he feels good most of the time. He is able to enjoy life again and share his experience with the Inspire community, where he has become a voice of reason, comfort and wisdom, particularly for other lung cancer patients and those going through their end-of-life experience.

Stanicki's journey began in January 2007, when he went to the doctor for an X-ray and Stanicki, a former smoker, was diagnosed with bronchoalveolar cancer, a type of non-small cell lung cancer that normally affects non-smokers, Asians, and women. Often known as the "mystery" lung cancer, Stanicki's doctors were perplexed by his results.

Upon hearing his diagnosis, he naturally did what everyone else would do: He Googled.

In the process of surfing the Internet for treatments and explanations, Stanicki came upon Inspire.com. With more than 150,000 members, Inspire.com attracts people from all over the globe who have been diagnosed with a variety of illnesses.

And so, Stanicki found people online who had received similar lung cancer diagnoses. He began discussing his string of chemotherapy and radiation treatments with other members.

"On Inspire, we really understand each other at a level that only people suffering that way would," said Stanicki. "It is a human, not cultural, connection. It is a shared experience that is very powerful."

Jim Stanicki with his wife Leslie.

Then, in February 2010, Stanicki was supposed to have surgery to remove his tumor-stricken right lung.

In a post, Stanicki wrote, "Driving to the hospital for my lung removal, I decided on my new name, Jimmy One Lung."

Doctors opened Stanicki's chest to remove his lung, only to find that doctors had been premature in their plans; the surgery was found to be too risky for Stanicki. Doctors closed him back up with the lung still in place.

"So I had all the fun of lung surgery and I get to keep my tumor filled lung," Stanicki wrote on Inspire after leaving the hospital. "I just can't wait for my next lung cancer adventure."

In response, one Inspire member posted, "I just hate it that you had to go through all the surgery and stuff. You didn't lose your sense of humor, thank God!!"

Another person wrote: "[You] just have to find another way! You are too important to this site!'

An End to the Battle

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