I’d like to share a special story about a different type of family of Dragons other than the one watched on Games of Thrones. Dragons are seen as symbols of strength, power, courage and the ultimate cosmic Chi.
The Jabonero family is the epitome of what a Dragon Family represents. Their battle against cancer as a family is an inspiring symbol of strength and courage. Their cause and story is influencing so many others to join in the fight against the monster we know as cancer. Their cosmic Chi that surrounds them and intoxicates others is a powerful energy of love and compassion.
AJ Jabonero, father of dragons, has never been a stranger to tragedy and death due to cancer. At a young age, he lost a childhood friend to leukemia. As a young man, he lost his father to liver cancer. As a father, his daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at the young age of 2 and alongside his wife Melissa, they fought like hell for 3 years to get to remission stage. Then as a husband and father, AJ himself would learn that he’d be next to fight his own battle with cancer.
During his daughter’s battle with cancer, AJ co-founded Team Cancer Sucks in honor of his beautiful, brave daughter, Izzy. The organization raises funds to help patients by participating in endurance sports. Team Cancer Sucks started an annual marathon that takes place at Crissy Field in the Presidio. The famed runner’s path leading to “Hopper’s Hands” also featured AJ’s iconic “fist bump for power” picture inspiring runners to keep going.
AJ was born with Hepatitis B, dubbed the “silent killer”. This virus led to AJ’s diagnosis with liver cancer in December of 2015. AJ was athletic, a super healthy man who had just accomplished the Ironman triathlon race when he was given the news of his diagnosis. Cancer does not discriminate. Too many people know this all too well. A few months later he passed on, a couple of days short of the next annual Team Cancer Sucks Marathon. The run that year became a memorial run dubbed the “AJ Strong Memorial Run” to honor his memory and his efforts in raising awareness and funds for those affected by cancer.
AJ’s life and legacy lives on thru his Khaleesi and their three dragons. The Mother of dragons, Melissa Jabonero, would continue his story and fight alongside AJ’s sister to push out a documentary to educate the Asian population about the “silent killer”. The “Be About It” documentary pushes the Asian community to talk about Hep B. Educating everyone thru the story of two men; AJ Jabonero and Alan Wang. It tells a tale of two fathers, two families and their battle against the deadly disease that predominantly impacts the Asian community.
Melissa has no words to describe what it has been like since his passing. Her memories of who he was as a partner and father comfort her daily. One of her favorite memories of AJ as a father was when he decided at 7am on a Sunday morning to load up the bike trailer with the kids to go encourage the runners of the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco. A day in which Melissa thought they could sleep in. “Instead AJ loaded up the kids, packed up energy drinks, snacks, made signs and we made our way to Ocean Beach with the kids and a cow bell. We set up shop towards the end of the challenging trail and we cheered on the runners as they passed by. He handed out drinks and snacks to keep them going. That was the type of man and father he was. He included his children in everything that he did. He motivated everyone around him to do better and be better. He wasn’t just a great athlete, he was a great husband, a great father, a great human being and an inspiration to so many. Happy Belated Father’s day to AJ and to all fathers like him.”If you have been inspired by this story to join the fight, I encourage you to get involved with Team Cancer Sucks today. This story is written and shared with permission from Melissa Jabonero.