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jj eizik profile in courage

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JJ Eizik survived four recurrences of deadly cancer and the amputation of his left leg without losing his zest for life and will to inspire others.
When he was first diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16, he had no idea that he was in a roller coaster ride for his life. For the next six years, he was in and out of treatment, enduring chemotherapy, and surgery. He lost his left leg. Finally, when the doctors were almost out of options, he was enrolled in an experimental protocol that boosted his immune system and saved his life. He has been in remission for the past three years, making the most of every day.
JJ learned of Chai Lifeline and Camp Simcha, its pioneering overnight camp for children and teens with cancer, during his first hospitalizations. Chai Lifeline volunteers were regular visitors to his hospital room, keeping his spirits high despite the pain of treatment. That summer he attended Camp Simcha for the first time. (He spent four summers at Camp Simcha, the last two as a staff member.) He credits the camp with helping him to come out of a shell of fear and teaching him to deal with challenges. “They were such good people,” he says of the counselors and staff. “They made us see that there is no reason to be unhappy. It doesn’t get you anywhere.”
Five years ago, JJ was invited to address the cyclists of Bike4Chai on the evening before their great adventure. His role was to inspire them by illustrating the impact of Camp Simcha on his life. But he himself was inspired – by the cyclists’ sacrifices in training and months-long efforts to raise funds for Chai Lifeline. By the time he climbed onto a borrowed hand cycle to lead the cyclists onto the course, he had decided that he, too, would be a Bike4Chai rider. He completed 90 miles the next year; by his third year he cycled 140 miles, including a grueling 14-hour tour on Day 1.  This year, JJ is hoping to go all the way. But he knows that every mile is a victory.
JJ understands that he has the ability to inspire others, and he hopes to use his life to enable those with challenges to see the possibilities in their lives. “I think that it is important for people to see that no matter what life throws at you, if you want to do something for yourself or for others, you can do it,” he said. “I have an obligation to help and inspire whoever is going through something rough. If they can see that someone else prevailed, I’m happy I can give that over.”
JJ is more than a cycling inspiration. As a professional chef and a married man, he is the epitome of the possibilities of life after cancer.