Jim’s Journal: The Fight of My Life

It may seem strange to say this. I am, after all, the CEO of AEPi and feel that I have a pretty good handle on the meaning and strength of our fraternity.

But, I never realized until just recently, the true power of our Brotherhood. 

I am in the middle of the fight of my life and without the love and support of my family and my Brothers, I’m not sure where I would be.

I have cancer. 

When I came home from AEPi’s 105th Annual International Convention in Phoenix this summer, I had some discomfort in my abdomen. I went to a doctor and they discovered a tumor on my kidney. Immediately, my family and I were thrown into this vortex of trying to make sense of this new reality and make informed decisions about our next steps. I’m fortunate that some of my closest friends here in Indianapolis are also my Brothers and they have medical backgrounds and a lot of insight. They helped me and my family make decisions about my course of action. 

I’ve had surgery and am currently undergoing chemotherapy. We believe that the prognosis is good.

Throughout this ordeal, my family and I have been buoyed by my Brothers.

The Supreme Board of Governors and our many other dedicated volunteers throughout the world have been with me every step of the way. I can’t even begin to count the number of texts, emails and calls we’ve received offering support, assistance and — because of the nature of our fraternity –food. As I head to each chemo treatment my Brothers text me and offer their support. They’ve gone to their temples and synagogues and said Mi Sheberach for me. They call and tell me funny stories to lift my spirits. I know that they are there for me and my family and would do anything for us. 

I’m not writing this because I want your sympathies or prayers (though I certainly appreciate both). I’m writing this because some of our undergraduates may see me over the coming weeks at some of our regional conclaves so I want to preempt any speculation.

I’ve been a part of AEPi since 1988. Many of the most important moments in my life have come about as a result of our fraternity: I met my wife through AEPi; I’ve been helped professionally because of AEPi; I became our fraternity’s CEO; and, just this fall, my son was initiated into AEPi.

But, I’ve never needed my Brothers more than I’ve needed them over these last few months. And, my Brothers have been there for me and my family.

I talk about Brotherhood to our staff and undergraduates almost every day of my life. But, until recently, I’m not sure I fully appreciated the reality of how important it is to have so many people who care for me and look out for me. 

That’s the true meaning of Brotherhood. Our Brothers are our keepers. They are there for us when we need them, whether we know it or not. We want our Brothers to take this responsibility seriously so that everyone in our sphere – Brothers, guests, our campus and Jewish communities – know that AEPi is there for them. To our undergraduate Brothers: please take the “I Am My Brother’s Keeper” pledge. Commit to caring for yourself and each other. You might make a real difference in someone’s life. 

Just as my Brothers have made a difference in my life.

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