A Hero Goes to His Reward

Last week, a great man passed from this life into eternal life. JJ Hanson, devoted husband and father, and staunch advocate against the legalization of assisted suicide, finally succumbed to the deadly brain cancer he had fought so courageously.

If you wanted to build a model of a Catholic gentleman, you could have used JJ as the template. He was a veteran of the Marine Corps and served in state and local government. He was athletic, handsome, and a good Catholic. He had a beautiful wife and a wonderful child. But in 2014 he was diagnosed with Grade 4 Glioblastoma, an aggressive and deadly kind of brain cancer. At first the doctors essentially gave up on him and told him to go home and die. But he didn’t listen to them, and instead with the help of his wonderful wife Kris, he fought back.

He became an outstanding spokesman against assisted suicide, and because of his personal story he had enormous credibility. In fact, his story was particularly important, because he had the same kind of cancer that led to the well-known suicide of Brittany Maynard in 2014. He led the fight here in New York and became a national spokesman for the Patient Rights Action Fund. I once shared a platform with JJ at a debate against suicide advocates, and he was a powerful witness for the cause of life.

To get a flavor of JJ’s optimism and strength, here is a video that he made for the Patient Rights Action Fund. It is a powerful video, and we have used over and over to help educate people about the threat of assisted suicide. His motto was “Every day is a gift, and you can’t ever let that go”. That is the ultimate argument against assisted suicide. JJ’s life and his legacy are a tribute to that principle.

Every so often, when the need is greatest, God chooses and calls a person to lead the fight. That is what happened with JJ. He was a modern-day Gideon, raised up by God to do battle on His behalf, with a small band of valiant allies, against seemingly hopeless odds. And God gave him the strength he needed to triumph.

JJ has now gone on to his reward in eternal life with God. Inspired by him, we carry on the fight.

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