This is a very special edition of Member Spotlight. Today we will be sharing the story of Jodi Cullen, one of the original members of She Hit Refresh. Jodi is our most active member and has shared so many of her plans, struggles, hopes and dreams with us; captivating all of us from her first post. She is a cancer survivor and promised herself that if she beat cancer she would dedicate the next two years to traveling the world.
She joined our community in November 2017 shortly after receiving the good news that she was cancer free. Since then, we’ve followed her as she prepared for her new life on the road. She kept us updated on selling her car, downsizing her life into a few bags, finding a new home base in Mexico, obtaining a degree in travel & tourism, starting a non-profit for cancer survivors, and getting closer to starting her nomadic life. Earlier this year she hit some heath roadblocks that set her travel plans back by a few months, however, on June 20, 2018 she shared that she was recovered, well, and rested enough to get back on the road.
To say that the following post we received from Jodi, only four days later, was shocking and heartbreaking, is an understatement.
“My refresh hit another stumbling block. I am currently in ICU waiting on surgery. My cancer spread to my brain
Jodi has since had brain surgery and we’ve just learned that the initial surgery went well. We have chosen to highlight Jodi today to share her incredible story and spread the word about her non-profit, T.H.R.I.V.E. (Through Hope & Restoration in Vacations & Explorations). She created T.H.R.I.V.E for “cancer thrivers and survivors to help them get out and see the world and create retreats to help survivors come together to heal in beautiful places.”
To get a better idea of who Jodi is and gain some insight into her journey, I’m sharing a post about her, from our She Hit Refresh group.
December 22, 2017
Hi Ladies! It’s Friday…which means we are featuring an inspiring woman from this group and sharing her unique path and story. This week we’ve got Jodi! She’s an active member of our group with an undeniable will to live this life to the fullest and on her terms. Please find her story below in her own words, be ready to be inspired!
I found my strength through running. I was an ultrarunner doing 50k’s, 50 and 100 milers on a regular basis. There was something so fulfilling about pushing my body to the brink and coming out the other end alive. I consider this a great example of how I live my life. I have never been afraid of a challenge and I don’t believe in limits.
When my corporate job wasn’t working for me I decided to take a leap and start my own pet care business. Was it easy? No. Did I do it? Yes.
After six years of running my own business I realized I needed more. I wanted to travel abroad long term. Was it easy to acknowledge my passion wasn’t working for me anymore? No. Did I make a change? Yes.
I signed up for a CELTA course in the Czech Republic so that I could teach internationally. It was during this course that I found out I had a rare late stage aggressive breast cancer. Did I drop out of school? No. I finished what I started.
Once I finished my CELTA I returned back to the states for 5 months of chemo, a double mastectomy, and 6 weeks of radiation. Was it easy? No. Was it horrific? YES.
I was told I had a 20% chance to live. I was forced to sit down and make decisions about how I would live my remaining days. When asked if I had any regrets, my only answer was that I didn’t travel nearly enough and that I never lived abroad. I swore that if I survived this challenge I would live true to my passions and needs and I would travel full time no matter what it took.
And wouldn’t you know it…I beat the cancer! While I still have a 90% chance of recurrence, I am currently cancer free and ready to roam the world. Do I have any money? No. Do I have a job? No. Will I make it happen? HELL YES!
I have had to “hit refresh” more than once and it has never been easy. This latest obstacle has taught me that life is too short to sit around waiting for things to come to me. It showed me I have to go out and make it happen. It showed me just how valuable EXPERIENCES and RELATIONSHIPS are and my next chapter in life will be embracing these two words as I travel the globe.
The harsh and devastating reality of the situation is that Jodi may only have six months to experience life with her loved ones and to fulfill some of her travel dreams. If you’d like to help in any way, please read her message below:
“I am receiving a lot of messages asking what sort of help I need. If I am 100% honest, I need financial help the most. My housing is pretty close to all set. The emotional support is top notch. Money is what is stressing me out the most.
What do I need money for?:
I need to buy a car when I get to Portland. I need a reliable vehicle that can drive 45 minute round trips from the Gorge to Interstate KP. 4-wheel drive or all wheel drive is key for the bad weather days. I need something reliable for the long haul that won’t break down on me. I also need to make a purchase that will not leave my family stuck with an overpriced clunker once I am done with it.
My health insurance and care team is in Portland, Oregon and my family is in New England. There will be many flights purchased going back and forth between the two.
Cost of living and, well…dying: I will have many out of pocket expenses as I transition from treatment and palliative care in Oregon over to hospice care in New England when that time comes. I also need to prepare for funeral expenses.
How can you donate?
If tax deductible donation is important to you, go to my non-profit page at www.thrivetravels.org and click on Donate. It will take you to Paypal but it will be registered as a 501c3 donation and we will send a receipt. Any excess funds will be put toward seeing my dream of sending cancer patients on healing retreats.
If tax deductible is not important and you want to avoid fees being taken from your donation, you can send a “Friends and Family” donation to [email protected].
Another option is an existing donation site through Meal Train where you can pop in a debit/credit card number in. That is found here: https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/4dmqrm
If you prefer to mail a check, you can send it to my mother’s house. She will have access to my banking. Her address is:
1 Hawthorne Village Unit C, Franklin, MA 02038
I appreciate all the support and love I have received. This is not an easy thing to be dealt. I am doing the best I can with what I’ve got. Luckily that includes having all you awesome friends :)”
July 17, 2018
It is with a heavy heart that I must say goodbye to my Refresh travel dreams. Today I learned my cancer has spread from brain to liver. The brain metastasis is very aggressive and dangerous and will leave me likely paralyzed soon. They also suspect many seizures in my future. As a result I have been put on a travel ban due to safety issues. They give me 2-6 months.
I know how scary it is to drop everything and hit refresh. I hope each and every one of you can find some sort of strength and motivation to follow your dreams. Please do not find yourself in my shoes, dying of cancer and wishing you traveled more at a younger age.
Thank you for supporting me as I fought for my dreams to see the world. This is a fantastic group full of amazing women who will go out there and get what they want and show the world just how badass it is to be a strong woman I am so glad I had a chance to be a part of something so amazing. Thank you!
Thank you for taking the time to see this beautiful member of ours. And Jodi, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’m waiting for you here in Spain for when you finally get to walk your Camino. xoxo
September 24, 2018
We have been informed that our beloved Jodi passed away today. She died peacefully, surrounded by her family. Rest in Peace Jodi Cullen.