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Support Jason’s widow and five year old son

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When the unimaginable happens, even tomorrow becomes unimaginable. Yet tomorrow will come nonetheless.

On February 14, 2024, Jason Cunniff, husband and father, friend and confidant, thread of light that tied so many together into such beautiful community, was taken away by a sudden, fast-growing, and highly aggressive cancer. He leaves so much love behind as he passes through this journey. Love that was so present at his wake, in the hugs between friends, the tears shed, the songs sung, the fires tended, and the praise freely given. We were all blessed to be a part of his life, in whatever capacity, and blessed by the man he was in this world.

Love sustains and is enduring. Yet this love, no matter how full and resonating, will not provide the financial support needed by his family as they navigate this unimaginable world of loss. Jason was the primary caregiver for their brilliant, creative, and radiant child. Emilie is grieving her loss while sustaining their son in his mourning as well. The minutia of life provides no respite for grief, however. Rent must still be paid. Daycare sought. Food purchased. Cars repaired. In some ways, his family’s need has only intensified with his passing. Please consider giving what you can to ease this process for Emilie and their son and consider sharing this fundraising page widely in your own communities as well. Anything you can provide is welcome support for Emilie and her family but, in a larger sense, is also a gift towards the better world that our hearts all know is possible.

Below is the original GoFundMe description, from a time when we were still hopeful for Jason's full recovery:

Sometimes the path of one’s life can change in a heartbeat. A dam breaks. A fire catches hold. In the short span between one breath and the next the very air changes and becomes half-recognizable. It’s a time of disorientation, hardship, and ultimately a time of gathering in community for resilience and support. And unfortunately, it is a time that our beloved friend Jason and his family now find themselves facing.

It happened quickly, as such things usually do. After a short inexplicable period of illness, odd stomach issues and fevers, Jason found himself in a hospital bed, fresh from surgery, with a cancer diagnosis, and facing a long path of recovery ahead. Jason is a self-reliant and grounded man. He is kind and beloved. I could say so much more but the best person to describe the wonder that is Jason, the love and care that he brings to all beings, is his wife Emilie. Her words, and a summary of recent events her family has navigated, are here.

Dear friends, family, community, colleagues,

On January 25th my sweet partner was rushed into emergency surgery to remove a large mass from his small intestines. He had been experiencing high fevers for about a week previously and we had taken him to the ER twice, the second time he was admitted and then things happened very quickly. We have received preliminary pathology reports. The initial diagnosis is stage 4 aggressive, diffuse large B cell lymphoma, unknown subtype. We have been told that there is at least one other mass, lesions on the liver and possibly lungs, and that Jason also has “extensive, severe adenopathy”.

After ten long days in hospital, trying to get his body back online and functioning, Jason was finally released to go home with strict guidelines on when to return for additional procedures and a post-surgery regimen. We are hoping he regains some of his strength and heals from surgery as we begin the next step of scheduling his outpatient appointments, both here in Bellingham and in Seattle. to schedule his outpatient appointments to begin treatment.

This kind of sudden emergency would be extremely difficult for anyone at any time in life, but for our family it comes at a particularly challenging time. Four and half years ago, I became severely ill for several months in what would prove to be the first of many episodes of mysterious infections that would leave me bedridden for days (and sometimes weeks) at a time. In the past year or so I have managed to scrape together some semblance of stability in my health, but I have chronic moderate-level physical disabilities and still a long road to being a healthy human. Jason is the primary caregiver for our fierce beautiful and wild high needs five year old son, while I do my best to make enough of a living for us through my work with others.

We are blessed with many around us who are deeply loving and caring. Our son has many playdates set up and our fridge and freezer are packed full with amazing organic meals. We are extremely lucky in many respects, and I feel my privilege as someone who is integrated into a supportive community. But we still need a lot of help. Like many of our generation, the rising costs of living, while trying to raise a family and meet health challenges, have left us without a savings account or any assets to speak of. We have about one month’s worth of bills and rent saved up and covered. After that is gone, we need help.

While we do have decent state insurance that will cover many of the costs associated with Jason’s care, it will not cover all of the expenses. There are deductibles and co-pays. There are half-covered procedures. Although we are following doctor’s recommendations, there are many alternative and supportive modalities also involved in the healing of cancer and we want to do as much supportive work as possible. There are many layers to something like cancer, and for a truly optimistic outcome we will need to take a look at all of them.

If you have had the good fortune to meet Jason, you will know that he is an incredibly special human. Often quiet and withdrawn, he appreciates human connection but can find it challenging to navigate and prefers the company of the trees and rivers and mountains, But when he does connect with you, it’s truly magical. Sitting in the hospital these past weeks I have been the recipient of many touching stories of Jason showing up for people in just the right way exactly when they needed it.

He’s an indispensable playmate to our son, they play and learn together every day for hours on end and are constantly up to some kind of new shenanigans. Most recently they have taken to flying a remote airplane as part of puppy obedience training (interesting choice as the dog is beside herself with excitement at the buzzing plane) and creating mysterious “potions” that get bottled up, creating later explorations in fermentation and how things smell after rotting in a bottle for several months (or sometimes I sneakily dump them out before they explode).

Jason moves through life softly and gently, only taking what he needs and giving of himself and his time whenever it is asked as fully as he is able. He loves this Earth and probably lives more in line with that as an ethos than many people who make such claims. He has devoted himself to the care of our young son and I have seen him blossom and grow fully into himself as a papa. He thinks deeply and carefully about all issues and does not engage in dramatic stances or black and white opinions or snap judgments about other people’s way of life. I have never once seen him act with malice or intent to harm any other living thing and only very rarely have seen him angry.

Jason loves a good adventure, although not in the hyper masculine adrenaline kind of way that truck commercials are good at. More like a quiet moving through space in order to absorb and learn new things about the world. I always wished we had met a little earlier in life so he could take me train riding with him, or hitchhiking to Guatemala (yea now that I’m an adult that seems risky but some part of me still shines at the romantic notion of it).

He once went backpacking during fire season, not rashly and in an area that should have been perfectly safe (he’s not an adrenaline junky). However, the smoke unexpectedly shifted and took over the whole area. Smoke as in really bad smoke. Like people killing smoke. For five days I was terrified that he had asphyxiated in his tent. It turned out that he was so high up in the mountains that he was above the smoke the entire time, wondering what the hell was going on down there with the rest of us. This is how Jason is - contemplative and calmly moving through life, unswayed for the most part by surface level concerns and fears.

Jason has followed me into some crazy places as well, profoundly beautiful shamanic ceremonies and days on end in the jungles of South America drinking strange potions and eating guinea pigs as well as into the wilds of marriage counseling and parenting. This new cancer adventure might be the biggest weirdest one yet with literally everything at stake.

Another story to tell you of Jason’s soul. One winter he spent months hand polishing a lump of wood into a perfect sphere, nights and nights of sanding with ever finer grained paper, and then just very nonchalantly handed it to me. “Here it’s for you”. It might be one of my most treasured possessions and exemplifies Jasons quiet humility. The flip side of this though might be that he often doesn’t feel deserving of care and accolade. For those that know how magnificent he is our biggest prayer through this is for him to realize that for himself and that he is so deserving of life and care and all the love.

It Is hard for him to accept help and even harder for him to know what kind of help he needs sometimes. We’ve been through the ringer relationally, and yet here he still is and here I am, deeply dedicated to each other and committed to moving through this with as much consciousness and careful intentionality as we can muster.

Jason is really truly special, and the world needs him and his particular brand of magic to go through this experience in whatever way he needs to and to do that we need community financial support. We need to keep our housing and pay the utility bills. We need to be able to afford his medical care in Seattle and Bellingham. I need to be available to care for our son and Jason both, which in the near future means that I am unable to work as well. As a self-employed person, I have no sick leave or paid time off. We will have no income coming in for some time as he heals. Simply put, we need financial support. It’s just the way the world is right now, much as I wish it wasn’t. If you have the ability to help, we would greatly appreciate your contributions. In addition, we would love it if you could share this page widely and as much as possible to help us reach our goal. Thank you all and we feel very grateful to have you all in our lives and community.

Emilie and Jason are cherished by their friends, family, and wider community. They have plenty of love and emotional support. They have homemade frozen tamales and rich organic soups and breads. Flowers and carefully chosen poems. But in such times, it takes more than a community. It takes a wider village. Please be a part of that village and give what you can to help this amazing and beloved family find ground again and heal. Thank you for any contributions you can make and for passing the word along to your own communities.


  • Patricia Rohan
    • $100 
    • 7 d
  • Nicole Schierberl
    • $20 
    • 7 d
  • Elke Macartney
    • $33 
    • 8 d
  • molly bush
    • $100 
    • 10 d
  • Cara Dockins
    • $50 
    • 12 d

Fundraising team (3)

Eric Goetz
Raised $1,158 from 4 donations
Everson, WA
Emilie Escobar
Raised $7,755 from 40 donations
Kim Schnuelle
Team member
Raised $1,500 from 7 donations
This team raised $18,608 from 120 other donations.

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