A Mom’s Story About Illness, Courage, and Love


The rewarding part of publishing is the feedback from readers. The Comedy section has received enthusiastic response, but a letter I received from a mom in Ottawa deeply moved me. Kristen Thompson sent a letter after reading my story about Jungle Jim Jerome, comedian extraordinaire.

I will let the letter speak for itself. I deeply thank Kristin for this moving story about her wonderful kids, and her feelings about a certain comedian named Jim Jerome.



Loved loved loved your story about the indomitable Jungle Jim Jerome. Although you know Jim as a funny man…I happen to know a much different side of him.

But first, I’ll have to tell you about me and my family, before I can tell you about our relationship with Jim.

My name is Kristen Thompson. I am the wife of one. The mom of two. Our son, Kieran was born with a profoundly rare condition called Bladder and Cloacal Extrophy. This literally means his bladder and part of his bowels were on the outside of his body. It’s a medically complex defect and Kieran has, thus far required 46 trips to the operating room to repair this. Some of those surgeries have lasted more than 24 hours!

To add to this, our only other child, our daughter Merighan, is terminally ill with a very rare metabolic disease called San Filippo syndrome (completely unrelated to what Kieran has). Sadly, this disease is 100% fatal. Merighan is now palliative and requires around the clock care.

To say I’ve spent the greater part of my parenting life, living in and out of a hospital…would perhaps be an understatement. And although we call Ottawa home, our children are treated and cared for at The Hospital for Sick Children, in Toronto.

When Kieran was 11 years old. He was granted a wish. You know the kind…where kids get to choose whatever it is their hearts desire? But Kieran..was different. He chose to DECLINE the wish. When we asked him why…he told us he’d rather “be a giver, instead of a taker”. In his 11 year old mind, he felt it was better to be giving back.

Giving back to the Hospital for Sick Children. Giving back so his surgeon could create a research endowment fund supporting pediatric urology. Because really?? Who EVER cared about pediatric urology? Kieran, that’s who.

Kieran decided he’d like to organize a golf tournament. He’d already played in a few. And Kieran knew exactly who he needed to MC the tournament – a local radio personality named Jim Jerome.

Thus began a prolific relationship between Jungle and Kieran. With Jungle’s help….Kieran has raised nearly $200,000 for urology research. Research that has, in turn, helped to keep Kieran alive.

We are forever indebted to Jim Jerome. He helped to change the arc of a young boy’s future. How many people own that badge of honor? Well…Jim Jerome does.

With kindest regards,

Kristen Thompson
March 2018


Jim Jerome
Screenshot 2018-02-16 at 11.19.05 AM

Best system in the world

U.S.? Canada? …It’s not what you think…

A newspaper editor I know in Toronto suffered a stroke in January. He, thankfully, survived and will again thrive.

Lorrie wrote a fascinating piece in today’s Toronto Sun. He shared an insider’s view on the science of strokes, and his feedback on the health care he received while being treated for this scary episode.

Thankfully, Lorrie can tell us all the story. And we all should listen.

Link and followup to come…

Chef Tanner

… A tribute to a Miraculous son


by Greg Meakin

March 20, 2018

I have always believed in miracles. In February, I was witness to one. A big one. A real one.

Tanner is my 38 year-old son. He died in February, in flight to a Seattle hospital, after suffering a horrific pancreatic “attack.” He was revived by an angel – an Emergency Medical Technician – who brought him back to life en route to the hospital.

Only by this angel EMT’s efforts – and with the Grace of God watching over – was Tanner able to experience his 38th birthday on March 9.

It was one of those phone calls that parents dread. My daughter-in-law Catherine on the other end of the line, a critical inflection in her tone. The day before, her husband had wisely checked himself in to a local hospital, concerned about unexplained pain, and feeling very sick.

A few days later, Tanner was being airlifted to Virginia Mason Intensive Care Unit in Seattle.

During the alarming cell phone conversation, Caty was clear and clinical, even under duress. At her home in Bremerton, she was discreetly shielding the boys – my two grandsons – from the emergency. But what she quietly had to say was grave.

“His organs are on the verge of shutting down completely – only a miracle will save him, Greg.”

As I write this, or share the story with close friends, I still shudder. Living two hours south of Seattle, my wife Deborah looked me in the eyes before hitting the road northbound.

“Please tell me we’re not going to be attending a funeral for our son next week, Greg.”

After being revived in flight, Tanner’s next few days were critical. I had never seen a family member hooked up to breathing apparatus. I had never seen doctors prepare for the possible loss of a patient, asking questions about his Next of Kin, Will and Testament, and Living Will instructions.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Tanner started to stabilize. In less than a week, he walked out of Virginia Mason, and went home to recuperate. He is slowly re-entering daily life, but his long-term prognosis will always remain guarded.

It’s funny how life often deals us the biggest blows when we’re right in the middle of something good, something important, or something planned.

I had just released my most important project as a writer – a new online eMagazine, SecretsFromTheInside.com. It was going to be so much fun, and a key part of the retirement strategy I was working on for me and my wife.

I had it all figured out, and by producing and delivering the eMagazine to my readers, by March or April, life would settle nicely with my rocking new publication, and everything would be happy.

In my mind, at least. That was my plan.

I once read about the best laid schemes o’ mice and men, and now I deeply appreciate what Scottish poet Robbie Burns was trying to tell us in 1786. John Steinbeck re-tooled the famous human condition message in 1937, but it never punched me in the face as it does in 2018.

To put it theologically – If you want to hear God laugh…tell Him your plans!”.

I first laid eyes on Tanner in the summer of 1984, on the outdoor basketball court of my apartment complex near Seattle. He was only four, a little blond kid and cute as a button, and I was falling in love with his mother.

On 8-8-87, Deborah became my wife, Tanner became my son, and I became Tanner’s dad.

A year before Deb and I decided to get married, Tanner (at the ripe old age of six) spoke what I now believe was prophecy. As a child, Tanner had deep intuition and spiritual sensitivity, and does to this day. When I invited his mom to move in with me, Tanner walked in the front door of my new duplex, even before the movers, or his mom.

Carrying a little back pack, he walked up to me and declared, “Greg, where you go, we go”.

For more than three decades, I have had the joy of watching a cute little bugger grow up to be a husband and father, Executive Chef, and innovative leader in his field.

I never pictured life without him. Never even occurred to me.

During Tanner’s scary episode, and in the critical weeks that followed, I was unable to tend to the daily work I planned for my eMagazine rollout. Smarty Pants Greg’s plan was to have fun coordinating guest columnists, writing new articles, chatting up sponsors and investors, and watching the eMag take off!

But everything changed from the very beginning. If there is a silver lining in tragedy, my whole family seems to have been touched. We all experienced – even for a moment in our minds – life without Tanner.

But Tanner, as well as his entire family and network of loving friends, was given a second chance. Every last one of us was given a second chance.

Much like my favorite movie It’s a Wonderful Life, in order to appreciate the ones we love, perhaps a moment to actually experience life without them … is a priceless blessing.

As Tanner continues to improve, and as life returns to normal, I have decided to take a different approach to my eMagazine. I will continue the original plan, sharing stories of interesting people and fun subjects, but I have changed my approach. My vision, and whole outlook really, has changed.

I was very close to scrapping the entire eMagazine, and focus on “more important” things, maybe getting a regular, low stress job to “normalize” life for my wife. As a few close friends will attest, as recently as last week, I was uncertain whether I would move forward.

I talked to Tanner about it, and he scolded me for even thinking about scrapping the project. He directed me to steamroll forward with SecretsFromTheInside.com. I owed it to my readers, if anything.

I am indeed going to take the road less travelled of e-publishing, and am dedicating this eMagazine, and its mission, to my son Tanner.

I will not worry about enrolling tens of thousands of anonymous subscribers. I will be inviting a smaller group of smart, passionate people to become members, and look forward to staying in touch with them every week. I hope to personally interact with this smaller community, because I want to know every one of my readers, and hear their amazing stories too.

Tanner was to be a Guest Writer for the inaugural edition of Secrets from the Inside in February. Just days before his emergency, he expressed excitement to be writing a Sneak Preview article for Secret Members, then see it published in the Family section of the eMagazine a few days later.

I can joyfully announce there will be a story in this eMagazine in the weeks to come, written by the chef himself.

In the flesh.

When visiting Tanner for his birthday a few weeks ago, I hugged him tight, and whispered in his ear that this was the most important birthday of his life.

Because he was alive to see it.

And, thank God, that’s all that matters in life.

Copyright © 2018 Greg Meakin