Last Updated September 29, 2018
This was written by a woman I don’t know:
June 26: “You guys…two of my friends are taking over my non-profit to provide retreats for cancer patients. It will be run in my memory. […] T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels will live on.”
Though I don’t know her personally, I am personally touched. To say the least, I was moved.
Moved, I responded using positive language both times. It was my intention to conjure the result one would like to see in such cases; that this human lives far beyond the limitations her physician(s) profess.
Six months to live.
The notifications of subsequent responses kept drawing my attention back to that post. Each time I thought of its content.
My soul was wrestling.
Eventually, I fell in to a state of sobbing; my heart wailing a bit. I wanted to help.
I don’t know Jodi Cullen personally, but it didn’t matter because we’re human. We too are women. We are women who have the same intention of being expat entrepreneurs.
I know, I know, I’m projecting this annoying ‘positive woo-woo-in-the-present-moment-mumbo-jumbo-juju-declaring-what-we’d-like-to-happen-shit’.
Sorry, yet not.
I can’t help but to believe that by projecting this, it just might join forces with all the best thoughts she, her family and friends and the other women I don’t know, send her.
Though Jodi made the grand effort to become location indie her reality, she was pulled back into a war of defeating cancer.
And so, this is written as tribute to Jodi, to help bring attention and gather support for her organization Through Hope & Restoration in Vacation & Exploration Travels (T.H.R.I.V.E.), a non-profit created to assist breast cancer survivors attend retreats that help them thrive.
She receives these flowers while she’s here!
Continue reading more about this awesome woman below, but while you here, consider donating and helping T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels beneficiaries here.
T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels is a 501c3 approved non-profit.
The Reason T.H.R.I.V.E. Will Endeavor
I first came to know of Jodi, her story and determination on social media in early January. We’re in a group for women who are intentional in wanting to renew how they live, and taking steps to do so.
She wrote a post asking if she should sell her car, or keep it to have reliable transportation in the event she needed to return to the U.S. for any reason. She spoke of wanting to be practical during this leap of faith she was about embark on, or leave it all behind to begin living a fuller life post cancer.
The group of women encouraged her in the best way they could.
I don’t remember if the consensus was to sell. But I do know that, what felt like a short time later, she announced “Welp…here is is! This is EVERYTHING I own right now…no car, nothing in storage…This is it!”
She proudly announced those two suitcases held the only material possessions she owned. There were some sentimental items she couldn’t (nor was was she required to) part with.
They’d be shipped to Boston.
“Today I am unleashed from having a physical address
and…tomorrow I am unleashed from cancer treatments.” – #JodiUnleashed
She was off!
But let me take you back further, to the time before I’d knew of Jodi’s full story:
November 19, 2017: Jodi writes that it was while in Prague, taking a CELTA course, that she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of late stage cancer.
Her mindset, humor and strength were evident: she recommended not receiving such a diagnosis when in a country where there is a language barrier. She too spoke of the one regret she has, and the promise made if she survived.
The promise: “…if I survive this and get into remission I will spend at least the next two years traveling full time.”
The follow-up, just two weeks after surgery, was that she’d been declared cancer free. Her adventures as a “Full Time Nomad starts April 2018.”
November 28: She’s taken the “first big step to becoming a full-time nomad.”
She had booked three months to explore and play around Europe, and to walk the Camino de Santiago.
December 1: Seizing the opportunity to fulfill her promise, she shared: “Ladies…on a whim, I decided to enroll in a Tourism and Travel Agent Certificate Program….”
Not taking this, or any moment she has for granted, she took steps to become a location indie virtual travel agent.
Believing the future held success for the new business, she projected she had approximately three years to reach profitability.
December 27: Beaming with excitement, joy and all the gratitude one could handle, she tells us that she had acquire her first “legit client”.
She had narrowed and focused her effort on developing a business as a travel counselor.
January 1, 2018: The lady gets new digs.
“I found my new home!” – Jodie
While citing #MyBackpackIsMyNewHome, she writes: “I didn’t need anything palatial, I signed a new agreement with an option to extend. I move in 30 days!”. Jodi was one more step closer to hitting the road with her new blue Osprey Kyte 36 ‘home’.
January 2: The prompt: A year from now I hope too…, was posed in the group. Jodi responds that she hopes to “Be wintering over in a warm climate like Ecuador.”
January 3: T-29 days before Jodie takes off on her journey, she makes a go at hedging; questioning if paying to store her car, or selling it would be more practical. She too shares her fear of failing and having to return to Oregon and starting over without a car.
It was the second time she notes how aggressive the cancer was. She too admonishes herself for “putting a lot of emotion and fear into car ownership.”, but I didn’t agree.
As an observer, I could only read this as a person of great will, doing her level best to have contingencies in place should she need them. I only read it as working as best she could to be responsible for herself. You know, Adulting.
We’ve all been in a place of need at one time or another. And though you may be in a place of great need (you know, like when your life is on the line battling an illness, and you’re depending on everyone and everything to help with the fight) and though forever appreciative, all you want is to ‘not bother other people’.
I heard, and understood her.
There was (is) nothing melodramatic in wanting to be independent and not burdensome to others. I get it. I too get that people want to be of service. And I’m sure the helpers will be there as long as she needs them.
January 24: T-7 days. Practice packing and more culling.
January 31: We’re back to the beginning of this post, and the point I first encountered Jodie’s story.
She posted the photo showing she had pared down all of her material possessions to fit into one large suitcase, one carryon and her ‘new home’, the blue Osprey backpack with a fresh FUCK CANCER patch prominently attached for all to see, read and affirm!
Proud of her, I wished her well.
Between February and June, Jodi popped in with a regular updates.
She had spent the first couple of weeks as a nomad resting and reflecting on the events of 2017. After all , it was the year a twenty-percent life expectancy was uttered.
Forever standing in power, she moved toward plans to tour around the states visiting family, venture into a few European countries until it was time for her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago.
During this time, a long lost friend heard about the events of the past year and was in touch. Speaking of how her story inspired him, he took the opportunity to gift Jodi a sizeable contribution that would forward her plans. Life as a father to young children had grounded him, and helping his friend would allow him to live vicariously through her joy.
She questioned if she should take a few major trips she’d dreamed of as a child, or establish the business. You see, she has plans and the will to be here living in her purpose!
We’re here for it!
The next post I remember, was the story of being in the place that really spoke as her home: Puerto Morelos, Mexico. She had accomplished what many here at Locaux desire, but find ever-elusive; to unearth the place that resonates as home.
The dots were connecting: #JodiUnleashed claimed her home and was registering T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels, as a 501c3.
It felt great cheering her on. Not only had this powerhouse of a woman kicked cancer in the teeth, she’d unearthed home and was living in purpose!
A good woman I thought. I only believed being in the flow is magic.
I was so incredibly happy for her!
But then, a setback. This is the effing reason people fear living. The setbacks vary, but some can be devastatingly brutal.
The next post included a photo of an injured Jodi. With her leg elevated in a full brace, the Camino was postponed until further notice.
Please know the thing you can rely on is that this woman is a warrior! Count her in, rather than out when she’s down. Because though this ride is emotional, I’ve seen her will. She aims to win, and I’m cheering from the virtual nosebleed seats.
Up next, Jodi was declaring yet another power move. She had passed the exam to become a certified tour guide.
See? Winner! Okay?!
This laid the foundation to develop T.H.R.I.V.E., and acquire its nonprofit status. When you have a sense of urgency and a big purpose, the Universe conspires. And this, my friends, is why T.H.R.I.V.E Travels Will Live Strong.
So, coming full circle and back to the impetus of this post, the end of June held a major bump in the road. The cancer was back, and had metastasized. It migrated to her brain and lungs!
In a matter of days, from scan to brain surgery and discharge, this precious soul is making still making plans to live, but accepting of what may come sooner, than later.
This Goddess. You have got love her!
Yes, she has been given a six-month life expectancy.
And Yes, she is coping.
Yes, she agreed to more rounds of chemotherapy. But she too has opted to live the remaining days of her life cognizant of what may be, and enjoying every breath. I hope she only pauses to smells the ‘flowers’ she’s given.
This is written as my humble offering to help amplify Jodi’s voice and elevate the mission of T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels.
All things said, and if you are so moved, please visit the Thrive Travels website, to support her and honor other women like my friend Aimée Aviva Zeltzer, by donating. We lift these ladies as they thrive post cancer.
Edit: Whooooo. It has only been an hour since publishing this, and I’ve just learned more about this spit-fire of women. Read more about Jodie, her athletic prowess and more on this post from Earth Vagabonds.
Live Strong and well, until the end. ♡♡♡
Periodically, I’d check in to see how Jodi was coming along during this hellish process. She was always sharing photos of the life as she knew it; a full life. In more recent photos you’d see nothing but her fierce, and hilarious personality shine through.
September 20th: Jodi, in the only way she could, shared openly about what she was living through:
That’s Jodi: Bold, Full of Spirit, Candid!
As does Life, experiences comes full circle. This specific situation I had experienced was no different.
September 24th: It was yet another post, in the same group I’d first came in contact with Jodi and her story, that I learned of her transition:
There was an outpouring from the ladies in the group. Some of us knew of Jodi’s story. Some were new members to the group, and this was their introduction to her. All were touched.
When I first proposed the idea that we honor Jodi while living, I knew there would come a day I’d have to update this post. Today is that day.
We close this chapter by wishing her family peace, as we send her on well. I only hope the ladies and I were able to contribute positively, and that Jodi’s legacy lives on through T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels; perpetually giving to those who continue to live beyond their cancer diagnosis .
Now, Go. Live. Your. Best. Life!
September 29: Update from T.H.R.I.V.E. Travels.
– FIN –
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