The Mirror

In Memoriam: Jim Allen

Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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Today some journalists around Washington will be thinking about D.C. media veteran Jim Allen. He died last week after being diagnosed in the fall with Stage IV lung cancer. He was in his late 50s. He is survived by his wife, Kim, his children and grandchildren.

In March, Allen became the Chief Operating Officer of Alejo Media, a video production company in  Springfield, Va. He was simultaneously Director of Social Media for the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations. Before that he was Director of News and Media Services at the American Institute of Physics. He previously worked as the media director for Energy Now!/Clean Skies TV and in media relations for The Hill Newspaper. Other highlights of his resume: press secretary for a D.C. mayoral race; sales and marketing and editorial for the Los Angeles TImes; talk show host, Radio One Inc.; and a reporter for WPEC -TV in West Palm Beach.

Over the last several months, he chronicled his own battle with cancer on Facebook. From the looks of his online diary, he clearly believed he was going to beat his illness and did everything in his power to do so. At times it has been heartbreaking to read his words. In many instances, Allen’s amusing personality comes through loud and clear. In a town as serious and ambitious as Washington, he was someone who never failed to display kindness and always kept his coworkers laughing with his offbeat sense of humor. “Jim was one of the nicest people I ever met,” said Bob Cusack, managing editor for The Hill. “He was genuine, smart and funny. Over the last few months, we exchanged a lot of emails about his health, his faith and football. His mind was strong until the very end. I already miss him.”

Below are excerpts from his Facebook passages. 

Dec. 21, 2013 (from his last post): Over the past 24 hours I have awakened to not less than 7 people whom I know to varying degrees standing over and staring at me– “i was just in the building” Since friday my resting heart rate has been at 117– 122 beats a minute (which ideally should be 86 bpm. My blood pressure is extremely low—cant live like this — smile— they believe its because i have pneumonia— cant live like that either– smile– In addition, i am fighting pneumonia attendant to What they call stage 4 lung cancer and heavily medicated. Please please please, let me rest– I really cannot talk to you at this time anyway and prefer not to be awkened and shocked — I hope this doesnt sound harsh, but I will sound the all clear– and— you will see me sitting up in wheelchair. I thank God for you and I am gojng to keep fighting //but some are hurting your boy! Ps no more msgs on FB please — most are from people I dont know and I’m just not going in there anymore.. Love Jim.

Dec. 14, 2013: Transferred to er this morning now admitted Bp tanked and heart rate skyrocketed–overnight– various infections and i have pneunomia– and i have the same God as before– smile.

Dec. 10, 2013: Day One of spine rehab curriculum at medstar national rehab hospital with my dream team: occupational therapy lead (l) Jaclyn Glynn and Physical Therapy lead (r) Meagan Tiedemann. I felt like i was about to hyperventilate when this pix was taken -and started not to post, but a lot of this just isnt pretty but want to remember it all. This was my day one baseline and let’s see how it goes!!! All in! TGBTG!

Dec. 9, 2013There will be no more surgeries had on my spine, in this sequence of events–period (surgeons closed me with dozens of sutures this time, not staples, as in the first two surgeries, my back is now officially closed for all surgical “bid’niss”) …  My goal and driver is to get as much done in the coming three weeks before my next round of chemotherapy is administered. I think and understand many of my friends, associates and others are focused on visiting me– perhaps many of you not fully embracing the idea that when you drop your freshman off with his/her footlocker at the beginning of the school year, they are there for school and loved ones dont come back until homecoming. (Smile) — it’s the same for me, i am in school here with a full schedule 6 days a week with life a altering grading report in the offing– a couple of you dropped in the middle of the day when i was here before and well, my classes cannot be crashed. But it is very much appreciated people wanting to see me and i am just hoping that you, my associates dont feel you have a left box unchecked with me if you dont see me in school here– nothing could be further from the truth from my perspective.

Know that my faith has me in perfect peace in my spirit here i have need of absolutely nothing except your continued prayers for my family and me!  I am going after this day and this week like i have never gone after one before like any in my life!! How about you! Thanks be to God for the grace, strength, clear mind and fearless heart!

Dec. 6, 2013:  Well, after 8-hour blood transfusions over night –and someone leaving me sleeping without pain management for over six hours, -DOH! and emerging twisted like one of those burnt pretzel buns at Wendy’s–while going thru a series of really weird weird dreams–with the payoff being the first of my every-3-weeks chemotherapy therapy sessions — whew!  Yep, did chemo today and so blessed not to experience any negative side effects at all from this round– woo hoo! … He signed off, “RIP Mandela!!!”

Dec. 3, 2013:  Hello crunch-time warriors–feels like time to check in with you. I hope your thanksgiving was great. …I have been a little scarce because The before-and-aftermath of this 3rd emergency spine surgery was, let’s say, much more physically, emotionally and spiritually edgy than I could digest at once — throw in a couple of crash cart EKGs, breathing and heart-rate crisis the mix, and you have yourself one physically shakey boy–holding on by faith and a hangnail. So i started focus on healing and kept quiet. Eventually I had to refuse the morphine, as the mood was not one i could live with — dark, dark, so i altered the pain maintanence, wasnt asking for it— dumb– wasnt in right my right mind, but knew i was rolling off into something very dark. …I am not sure why this is my lot, but why not me and i still fully expect that God will get glory out my weakness and my continuing belief–God has this, situation and me, in spades.

Nov. 19, 2013:  I told you about wearing shoes again for the first time and I am so pleased to delicately share that yesterday i eliminated the bed pan from my life—it is huge thing that I took for granted!. Also, since September 9th, when I was weighed at doctor’s office and told I had a pulled muscle, I had lost 30 pounds, based on my in-bed weigh-in when i got here thursday night. Since I have been here, I have gained 10 pounds, but my doctor doesnt believe it and thinks they made a mistake. I have been doing late-night lo mein, Pizza, ice cream sandwich, buffalo wings, clementines, green apples, chips and the food here is actually very good—with frozen and refrigerated foods vending machines downstairs too. The PT is painful and i am embracing the pain– loving the pain. I got my wheelchair technique down, (and gloves) and doing laps like a hampster on hot wheels of steel.

Kim brought my 4/string bass guitar up here, OT says it will help with my sitting balance, and will not disturb anyone without an amp, plus I need to get my chops up. It dawned on me a few weeks ago, that i was blessed to play that thing accompanying people like Stevie Wonder, Richard Smallwood and many others–how dare i just cavalierl take a gift from God and just put it down– and similarly taking so many things in my life for granted– and people too.

Nov. 14, 2013I finished 10 radiation treatments on my spine to kill the cancer which led to a 2nd emergency spine surgery within in 2 weeks.

Oct. 16, 2013They have scanned me from head to toe and THERE IS NO CANCER ANYWHERE IN MY BODY– nothing that could have spread to the spine, and of the cancer in my spine is of the type that had to originate somewhere else—and these pathologists and radiologists don’t know whether to poop or wind their watches. LOL!

Oct. 14, 2013Check this out:The surgeon just left my hospital room who operated on me and removed the cancer from my spine, stacked the titanium, and who saw with his own eyes and literally took the “cancerous” lung tissue and bone sample out of my body last saturday. Whatever that lung thing was last week, it is not cancer today!!! I am rolling to spine rehab and arrangements are being made. They might zap the lesion when they follow-up zap my spine, but I am totally cancer free and going to learn how to walk again. Glory to God!!!!!!

Oct. 6, 2013On Sept 9 I went to my primary med doc with severe pain on right side and back, he said I pulled a muscle and prescribed muscle relaxer. On Oct 1 driving to NOAA in silver spring to report for first duty mtg —govt shutdown,early dismissals, turned around headed home. Pain so severe during ride I pulled over 5 times, contorted. Got home, went to sleep , slept on back, with knees up,on meds, woke up, my back, on other side, was tweaked, feels like pinched nerve-. Next day, wednesday, wednesday, feet tinglling, thursday gradual loss of mobiliity…yesterday morning (friday) paralyzed from the waist down, wife came home at noon not knowing i was immobile but distressed to take me to ER, (BTW, lost10 pounds in last 3 weeks –admitted to ER at 2 where they first did stroke test protocol, brain ok, then test after test, 5pm ER doc says they have no idea why I am paralyzed, all organs healthy, no disbetes, not a stroke, “Could it be lime disease?” I asked– “we’ll see, but there is an unrelated mass on your upper left lung that they are concerned about but we will deal with that later”–fine. At midnight last night 2 series of MRis done 30 mins esch, to get a better look at soft tissue and nerves in back — pix sent off to an off site radiologist with “stat” orders at -130 a,m , ER doc says “you have lung cancer that has spread to your spine.”