Want to start the year off feeling amazing? Become a Spirit Jumper!!! Meaghan Edelstein survived cervical cancer and founded Spirit Jump as a result of her journey to recovery. I was able to talk with her about her finding new meaning in her life from becoming a lawyer to helping hundreds of cancer patients. And she’s just getting started…
Love and Water- How did you come up with the idea for Spirit Jump?
Meaghan Edelstein- I was diagnosed with 3B cervical cancer in February of 2007. I thought I was going to die, and was going through major treatments. One of my first feelings wasn’t fear of dying; it was that I was going to be forgotten and left behind. I started getting some cards, and I remember distinctly thinking that it was great but it was going to wear off in a month. I was a novelty, the sick person, and my friends and family were going to forget about me soon. But nobody forgot. I don’t know that one day went by where I didn’t get something- a gift or a card or a visit. It was really amazing, and it got to the point where that was the one thing I looked forward to every day. I survived against all odds, and I started looking at what happened to me and how I could find a reason in it to do something positive. I wasn’t looking to start a non-profit, I just wanted to doing something helpful. So I started a blog called “I Kicked Cancer’s Ass.” I blogged about cervical cancer, because I couldn’t find anyone around my age with such an advanced case when I was going through my treatments, so I didn’t have anyone to reach out to about their experience. I blogged everyday and used the words “cervical cancer” in every post so that people could find me if they Googled “cervical cancer.” And I created a community as a result. I started realizing that everyone felt as lonely as I did, but that not everyone was lucky enough to receive the amount of cards and gifts that I did. It occurred to me that people would really appreciate those. So I started Spirit Jump as a blog, in order to connect people. And it snowballed from there.
L&W- So when did Spirit Jump become a non-profit?
ME- Well I finished law school and passed the bar, and then I had my rib and kidney taken out this past March. While I was recovering I was receiving so many requests from people that it occurred to me that I needed to make Spirit Jump a non-profit. This is why I got cancer, in order to bring these people together. So we are currently in the process of making that happen.
L&W- And anyone can become a Spirit Jumper, right?
ME- Yes, it’s really interesting the way it worked out, because I didn’t start as a non-profit. So the great thing about Spirit Jump is that it can run without a budget. The way it works is that anyone can sign up to become a Spirit Jumper, and when we get requests from patients that they need a jump, we send our Jumpers those requests, and they can send cards and small gifts. I have a small staff- myself, my friend Dominique and my boyfriend Bryan. And none of us gets paid. We’re working to get funding in the year 2010, but the great thing is that even if we didn’t Spirit Jump could still run. My main focus is the people battling cancer, so it will always be my priority to help them directly. That is what sets us apart from other organizations- our directly helping each patient who reaches out to us.
L&W- What is one of the most moving experiences you’ve had so far with Spirit Jump?
ME- This woman was in the hospital while her husband was getting Chemo, and she saw our article in Cure Magazine while she was in the waiting room. And when the doctor came out he said that her husband’s chemo wasn’t working and that it was time to call in hospice. So she signed her husband up for Spirit Jump. And even though he only had a little bit of time left, she would see him looking out the window everyday. When she asked him what he was looking at, he said he was looking for the mailman. And she asked why he wanted the mailman, and he said he was waiting for his Spirit Jumps. That’s how I felt when I was in his position. People wonder why, when you may only have a few weeks left to live, you would be interested in such a little thing. You’re still a human being, and you can still look forward to getting a card in the mail. The little things become so important.
L&W- So the Jumpers can send anything?
ME- Yes, in fact you can see pictures of what people have sent on our site. People have put their talents to use and made gifts that are wonderful, or bought little things that really brighten a person’s day. We did an interview on CBS with a little boy with cancer named CJ. He had received a lot of gifts big and small, and when he was asked which gift he liked the most he said it was a homemade card he received from another little boy. And he explained that it was so special to him because he couldn’t go to school and play with other kids, and it was a way for him to have a relationship with another child. So it never has to be a big gift in order for it to touch a person very deeply.
L&W- How many followers do you have now?
ME- We have over 1000 followers, and we welcome anyone who wants to sign up. I just want people to understand that it is that easy. When you become a Spirit Jumper, you can send as many cards as you want. You can send one card or you can send one hundred, it’s entirely up to you. It’s a great first charity for kids because they can get credit for volunteering through Spirit Jump. And coming up in April, we are doing Cards for Cancer Day, where we will have people all over the world delivering cards to different cancer centers. So there are a lot of great ways that kids and families can get involved.
L&W- That’s really great, I am so deeply touched by this cause and am THRILLED to become a Spirit Jumper.
ME- Me too!
Become a Spirit Jumper here! http://www.spiritjump.org/
Follow Spirit Jump on Twitter here: @spiritjump