Albany, NY – On December 30, 2017, following a valiant battle with cancer, J.J. Hanson passed away surrounded by family and friends.
A U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, J.J. was diagnosed with glioblastoma—an aggressive form of brain cancer—in May 2014. Thirty-three years of age at the time, J.J. was told that he had four months to live; however, he proved the doctors wrong. After J.J. underwent a grueling regimen of surgery, chemotherapy, and an experimental treatment, his cancer subsided.
Following his recovery, J.J. became a national advocate for the terminally ill. In his role as President of the Patients’ Rights Action Fund, J.J. worked to prevent the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in New York and other states. J.J.’s experience with cancer, together with his professional background in government, equipped him to be a remarkably effective leader, communicator, and influencer. J.J. also created a blog to share information about his journey with glioblastoma; the blog, YouCantHurtSteel.com, derives its name from J.J.’s family motto, “You Can’t Hurt Steel.”
J.J. Hanson outlived his initial prognosis by more than three years, and his life story has been an encouragement and an inspiration to cancer survivors and many others across the country. He is survived by his wife, Kristen, and their two sons.
The New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide mourns the passing of our treasured colleague and friend. We will miss J.J.’s leadership, his optimism, his selflessness, his tenacity, and his willingness to draw upon his own difficult experiences to advocate for others facing challenging medical problems. We can unequivocally say that J.J. Hanson’s life—despite its brevity—made the world a better place for those who will come after him.