Monthly Archives: February 2012

Jamie Holmes of Jamie’s Dream Team Learns That Helping Others Cures Most of Her Illnesses


http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-learns-that-helping-others-cures-most-of-her-illnesses/

UroMed Hometown Hero – Jamie Holmes Part 4 – DECEMBER 10, 2011

Please help us spread the word about Jamie’s Dream Team! Coming soon to a town near you….

I’ve learned that helping other people cures most of the sicknesses I have. This past month (November, 2011) I’ve been very, very sick, but each morning as I wake up, thinking about how sick I am, I realize I don’t have time to be sick.

People are depending on me. I’ve got to get out of the bed and go buy presents for other people to have under theirChristmas trees this Christmas. If I don’t get out of the bed, many of these people won’t have very-merryChristmasesI don’t have time to worry about how I feel, because my mission in life is to help other people.

What makes me strong, keeps me from being sick, keeps me sane, and keeps me going is my need to help other people. I don’t have time to become depressed or get sick, because I have so-many things I need to do to help other people.

Read more at: http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/10/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-learns-that-helping-others-cures-most-of-her-illnesses/

UroMed Catheter Health Blog

Editor’s Note: Jamie Holmes of White Oak Pennsylvania, learned at an early age that the real joy in life began once she focused on others, instead of herself. This amazing 24-year-old young woman not only has helped herself but hundreds of others as well. In reading this week’s story of “The Dream Giver,” you’ll find truths that may change your life forever for the better. Part 4 of a 4-part series.

I’ve learned that helping other people cures most of the sicknesses I have. This past month (November, 2011) I’ve been very, very sick, but each morning as I wake up, thinking about how sick I am, I realize I don’t have time to be sick.

People are depending on me. I’ve got to get out of the bed and go buy presents for other people to have under their Christmas trees this Christmas. If I don’t…

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Jamie Holmes Founded Jamie’s Dream Team to Help Others


http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/jamie-holmes-founded-jamies-dream-team-to-help-others/

UroMed Hometown Hero – Jamie Holmes Part 3

From the time I was very young, I knew I wanted to start a non-profit organization to help others. That’s why once I graduated from high school, I started Jamie’s Dream Team. I contacted an attorney my family knew, and she filed the paperwork to create Jamie’s Dream Team for us.

As soon as we had the paperwork done, we began holdingfundraising events to raise money to help other people’s dreams come true and became an action group. We stared promoting band concerts with the proceeds going to Jamie’s Dream Team. And, for instance, this week we’re promoting a pizza party with Santa to raise money. We’re also planning a fashion-show fundraiser, and we sponsor races like 5Ks and road races. We collect donations as well.

Please help us spread the word about Jamie’s Dream Team! Coming soon to a town near you….

White Oak, Pennsylvania, my hometown, only has about 2,000 people. Although only a small town, everybody in the town helps work together to raise money for Jamie’s Dream Team. The local newspaper here supports us, and because we live so close toPittsburgh, the TV stations and newspapers in and around Pittsburgh promote and support us as well. We also have people from all over who come to help us with our fundraisers.

Read more at: http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/09/jamie-holmes-founded-jamies-dream-team-to-help-others/

UroMed Catheter Health Blog

Editor’s Note: Jamie Holmes of White Oak Pennsylvania, learned at an early age that the real joy in life began once she focused on others, instead of herself. This amazing 24-year-old young woman not only has helped herself but hundreds of others as well. In reading this week’s story of “The Dream Giver,” you’ll find truths that may change your life forever for the better. Part 3 of a 4-part series.

From the time I was very young, I knew I wanted to start a non-profit organization to help others. That’s why once I graduated from high school, I started Jamie’s Dream Team. I contacted an attorney my family knew, and she filed the paperwork to create Jamie’s Dream Team for us.

As soon as we had the paperwork done, we began holding fundraising events to raise money to help other people’s dreams come true and became…

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A Life-Changing Decision: Jamie Holmes Decides Christmas is About Giving, Not Receiving


http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/a-life-changing-decision-jamie-holmes-decides-christmas-is-about-giving-not-receiving/

UroMed Hometown Hero – Jamie Holmes Part 2 – Originally Posted DECEMBER 7, 2011

With Jamie’s Dream Team, Jamie Holmes has set her sights on giving more than she gets!

Right before I was 15-years old, I went in for another surgery. My sister always would stay with me in the hospital before my operations. This time there was a little girl in the room with me who needed a heart transplant. Her dad was overseas in the military, and we felt so sorry for her. I had a real burden to try and help people like her and bring some joy into their lives.

At this time, I was in the hospital for a spinal-cord operation, because my spinal cord was tethered. (This disorder meant my spinal cord was pulled-down and stuck to the spinal canal, instead of floating inside the spinal canal). Anytime you undergo surgery, the possibility of death is a real fear that you have to face.

Although I always was very sick, I’d grown-up in a family of givers. Each year my sister and I got to pick-out underprivileged families who perhaps had a child who was sick. Then my family and I became Secret Santas to them.

Read more at: http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/07/a-life-changing-decision-jamie-holmes-decides-christmas-is-about-giving-not-receiving/

UroMed Catheter Health Blog

Editor’s Note: Jamie Holmes of  White Oak, Pennsylvania, learned at an early age that her real joy in life began once she focused on others, instead of herself. This amazing 24-year-old woman not only has helped herself but hundreds of others as well. In reading this week’s story of “Jamie Holmes – The Dream Giver,” you’ll find truths that may change your life forever for the better. Part 2 of a 4-part series.

Right before I was 15-years old, I went in for another surgery. My sister always would stay with me in the hospital before my operations. This time there was a little girl in the room with me who needed a heart transplant. Her dad was overseas in the military, and we felt so sorry for her. I had a real burden to try and help people like her and bring some joy into their lives.

At this…

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Jamie Holmes of Jamie’s Dream Team Explains You Have to Know What Your Focus Is


http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-explains-you-have-to-know-what-your-focus-is/

Jamie finds her joy in helping others, in small and big ways.

UroMed Hometown Hero – Jamie Holmes Part 1 – Originally Posted DECEMBER 6, 2011

Hi, my name is Jamie Holmes. I’m 24-years old and live with a condition called V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, which was diagnosed in utero. I have endured over 42 surgeries in my life, with the surgeries starting at the time of my birth, to reconstruct my esophagus, trachea and lower intestine and to fuse several vertebrae in my spine. Presently, one of my kidneys has disintegrated, and my remaining kidney doesn’t fully function.

V.A.T.E.R Syndrome is a congenital birth defect that triggered anomalies to my vertebrae, urinary tract, bowels, trachea and esophagus. So, I was pretty messed-up medically. V.A.T.E.R Syndrome affected almost everything in my body but my big toe. To learn more about V.A.T.E.R Syndrome, you can Google this birth defect on the internet. You’ll see that V.A.T.E.R stands for vertebrae, anus, trachea, esophagus and renal – all areas affected by this syndrome.

Read more at: http://uromed.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/jamie-holmes-of-jamies-dream-team-explains-you-have-to-know-what-your-focus-is/

UroMed Catheter Health Blog

Editor’s Note: Jamie Holmes of  White Oak, Pennsylvania, learned at an early age that her real joy in life began once she focused on others, instead of herself. This amazing 24-year-old woman not only has helped herself but hundreds of others as well. In reading this week’s story of “Jamie Holmes – The Dream Giver,” you’ll find truths that may change your life forever for the better. Part 1 of a 4-part series.

Hi, my name is Jamie Holmes. I’m 24-years old and live with a condition called V.A.T.E.R. Syndrome, which was diagnosed in utero. I have endured over 42 surgeries in my life, with the surgeries starting at the time of my birth, to reconstruct my esophagus, trachea and lower intestine and to fuse several vertebrae in my spine. Presently, one of my kidneys has disintegrated, and my remaining kidney doesn’t fully function.

V.A.T.E.R Syndrome is a congenital

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Jaime Holmes – Courage To Shine™ – Role Model of the Month for January 2012 – Reblog


Courage to Shine™

DREAMS BY HOLMES, A YOUNG LADY WHO TRULY MAKES DREAMS COME TRUE.

By Thomas Exler

Twenty-four year old Jamie Holmes, from White Oak, Pennsylvania  has been named as the first Courage to Shine™ – Role Model of the Month for the Courage to Shine™ program.  Jamie has earned this recognition because she has turned her lifelong medical issues from a negative into a positive, by helping children and adults dealing with life threatening, chronic illness or overcoming traumatic accidents, through an organization she founded in 2005 at the age of 18 called “Jamie’s Dream Team”  www.jamiesdreamteam.org

Jamie has lived her entire life through the daily motto of Courage to Shine™, “Turning Adversity to Triumph” and with “Jamie’s Dream Team” she is the glue that holds everything together.  Furthermore over the last few months I have personally seen some of the magic she makes happen, while at the same time she…

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James Cole – Overcoming Adversity – “A Life of Long Odds” Part 3 of 3 – Including The Short Film “The Night Before”


Part 1 – “A Life of Long Odds”

Part 2 – “A Life of Long Odds”

Editor’s Note:  This is the final part of a 3 part series by James Cole – A Life of Long Odds – and we at Courage to Shine would like to thank James for showing the courage to help inspire us and to give us the chance and privilege to read about his story.  Also please take the time to make sure you read all the way to the bottom of this posting, because we have posted the short film The Night Before which James Cole wrote about his hospital stay in 1979, and it is not a movie that should be missed.

James Cole

“A Life of Long Odds”  Part 3 of 3

By James Cole

In August 2001, I had major surgery to repair an inguinal hernia. Although the operation was successful, I developed internal adhesions – scar tissue – that debilitated me with pain and digestive problems. I became unable to work, and could not find any surgeon or doctor who could solve the problem. It was a dark time. Then, in December 2001 I ran into my friend Jay Holben, a talented director who, like myself, had adapted a Stephen King story to film. He was preparing to make another short film, but needed a script. I didn’t have a short script, but I did have a short story.

Director Jay Holben (left) and James Cole

Several years earlier, I had finally written about my condition with the story “Hot Shots.” Based on my urostomy surgery when I was twelve, “Hot Shots” had never been submitted for publication, and I never thought it would get much exposure. Nevertheless, I sent it to Jay, hoping that he would like it. Since it was about kids in a hospital, I was convinced he would not be interested in actually filming it as a movie. To my surprise, Jay was more that interested: he was committed.

James Cole in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York during his urostomy surgery, February 1979. This surgery was the basis for the film The Night Before.

For the next couple months, I labored to adapt my story into a shooting script. I ended up doing sixteen drafts, thrilled as my writing evolved into an even more powerful – and honest – story about both the surgery, and how hard I struggled to hide my condition. Jay kept me involved in the pre-production process, and I was thrilled to participate in the auditions.

On March 1, 2002, I walked onto the set of The Night Before, my first professional film. It was like walking into a scene from my own life – a recreation of the hospital room in which I had spent six weeks. The movie was shot in four days, and everything went perfectly: a happy set with an amazing cast and crew. It was magic. I had little involvement during the film’s post-production, however, and continued struggling with my health, still searching for answers. Yet The Night Before had renewed my creative spark and given me something to look forward to. It had given me hope.

James Cole (center, baseball cap) on the set of The Night Before, March 2002

That hope translated into a fierce determination to somehow heal myself, and it was during this time that I discovered the Association for Bladder Exstrophy Community (ABC), and the bladder exstrophy community. I began to participate in online forums and message boards, and for the first time in decades I discovered that I was not alone. There were others out there like me, and connecting with fellow exstrophy adults, as well as parents of children with exstrophy, gave me purpose. I was able to offer help and compare experiences, and in the process, discovered much about myself.

James Cole and lead actors at The Night Before premiere at Warner Bros. Studios, June 2003

Just as The Night Before was completed in the spring of 2003, it won the International Cinematographers Guild Showcase Award. The awards ceremony took place at the Directors Guild of America in Hollywood. Beside the obvious thrill of watching my first produced story in a big theater, I was witnessing my own life up on the screen. Most important was the reality that one of my biggest secrets – the fact that I wore bags and had exstrophy – was being shared not just with friends, but also with an entire audience of people whom I did not know, and who did not know me.

Two months later, we had our official premiere on the Warner Bros. Studio lot, attended by many friends and family. It was a thrilling experience, but The Night Before soon gained a life and meaning beyond the film festival circuit. Only a couple months after its premiere, I attended my first ABC conference in Milwaukee as a guest speaker, where I presented The Night Before to a conference room of filled with exstrophy patients, parents, doctors and specialists; an audience who understood its story on a far deeper level than most of the population.

James Cole presenting The Night Before at the ABC Conference in Pittsburgh, 2009.

The Night Before has since been shown at exstrophy-related conferences in New York, Toronto, Seattle, Pittsburgh, as well as overseas in Australia and the United Kingdom. I was able to attend several of these events, and my story has gotten more exposure than I could have ever imagined.

Most remarkably, the act of telling my story – be it in person speaking at conferences or through online forums – has expanded my horizons and changed my life. Exstrophy is no longer a shameful secret: it’s simply what I was born with. Coming to terms with my condition and accepting myself has helped the process of healing myself, physically and emotionally.

And my health has  improved in recent years, through a combination of medical approaches, both traditional and alternative, changes in my diet, and stress management. This improvement has allowed me to resume pursuing my dream of a career as a paid writer. Living with exstrophy is still not easy, however; I continue to suffer with pain and fatigue, but being able to help others with exstrophy or similar medical conditions – often on a daily basis – makes me feel that my suffering is not in vain. I am lucky to be alive. I know I am here for a reason.

© Copyright 2012 James Cole, all rights reserved

James Cole & Courage to Shine is proud to present:

THE NIGHT BEFORE, a film by Jay Holben, and written by James Cole

The Night Before Website http://www.adakin.com/thenightbefore/

Gift presented by director Jay Holben at our film's premiere

The Night Before

If you would like to contact James Cole you can do so by e-mail us at contact@courage-to-shine.org with  James Cole in the subject line, and we will forward him all e-mails we receive.

Categories: Courage to Shine News, Inspirational Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

James Cole – Overcoming Adversity – “A Life of Long Odds” Part 2 of 3


James Cole

Part 1 – “A Life of Long Odds

“A LIFE OF LONG ODDS”   Part 2 of 3

By James Cole

After moving to Cape Cod and starting a new life, I felt reborn. I had many new friends, a renewed passion for my filmmaking, art, and even acting – participating in two high school productions. Most important, I was well. Now that all my reconstructive surgeries were complete, I began to define myself as “Normal …with two bags.” It wasn’t unreasonable: As long as I stayed healthy and hydrated – critical to avoid kidney infections – I felt good and had boundless energy. I was so confident that I didn’t bother finding a new doctor in Boston; instead I kept in touch with my surgeon in New York, driving down for checkups every couple years. The bad times were truly behind me.

Chatham High School Drama Club cast of the "Cheers" Talent Show. I'm at the right with the gray hair.

I graduated high school, applied to several colleges, and was accepted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Some accommodations had to be made of course; having two ostomies necessitated that I be granted a waiver from sharing a dorm room, a requirement for incoming students. Being the only freshman with a single room did raise eyebrows, however, so I lied or made up excuses, no different than when I was a child. How could I be honest about my condition with people I barely knew, when I was lying to myself?

With my dad, moving into my dorm at the University of Massachusetts, freshman year

College was a golden age. I stayed healthy and active, averaging the norm of five classes each semester. One day, my mother and grandmother drove up to visit me at school. As they arrived on campus, they passed a student biking up the very steep hill up to my dorm. Of course the student was I. In addition to earning my degree on schedule, I continued to make movies, shooting a Stephen King short story, The Last Rung on the Ladder. This film went on to become an officially recognized King adaptation.

My artistic drive was in part a response to my fear of intimacy. From high school through college and even beyond, I shied away from dating. When a woman expressed any interest in me, I invariably pulled away. The few relationships I did experience never progressed far. I was too terrified to tell the truth about myself, to acknowledge that I wore bags, let alone that I had exstrophy. My condition was off-limits to everyone, including myself…until something went wrong.

As the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from "Ghostbusters" at the Halloween Dance. I won first prize for best costume

That first ‘something’ was a terrible sickness in the winter after I graduated college. Unbearable stomach pain put me in the local ER, where an ultrasound revealed an enflamed gallbladder. The complexities of my condition – scar tissue from multiple surgeries – necessitated transfer to Mass General in Boston, where I had emergency surgery. The surgeons discovered gallstones so severe that my gallbladder had died and had to be removed. It was a brutal surgery and recovery. Nature was trying to tell me that I was not normal. I didn’t listen.

I continued pushing, pushing, and pushing. I wrote a film column for the local paper, worked summer jobs, continued making movies, and writing – dreaming of a career in Hollywood. Then, a year and a half after graduating college, I packed up my car and drove across country to California. Despite being completely unprepared for the life that awaited me, I adjusted. I became a Temp. The first couple years were terrifying – working at countless unfamiliar companies, until I landed a gig at Walt Disney Imagineering as a staff assistant. Happily, WDI was a relaxed and creative work environment, and I became a regular there, working my “day job” as I honed my writing craft and tried to break into the movie business.

Rehearsing a scene on location for my 16mm college short film, "Familiar Territory".

After almost a decade of happy and productive years in LA, my health declined. I began to experience painful digestive problems, which could not easily be identified. My diet became restricted, and it became harder to work and function. Eventually I found a pediatric urologist at UCLA who specialized in exstrophy, who diagnosed my problem: a severe inguinal hernia – a common problem for males with exstrophy. I had major surgery in August 2001 to repair the hernia. Recovery was difficult, but I progressed, and after several months I had healed from the surgery itself – healed too well, in fact. The internal scar tissue kept growing, and developed into adhesions that caused pain and new digestive problems. My world fell apart. It was as though I had won the battle but lost the war.

Mom visits me in Palm Springs, a couple years after my move to California.

Unable to work even part-time, I became disabled, and began to retreat into myself from the chronic pain and sickness. I searched for other doctors or specialists who could help me. One surgeon – an expert in rebuilding people after severe injuries as in car accidents – said, “I could only make you worse.” And during a visit home on Cape Cod, a local GP who understood my condition put it bluntly: “My dear boy, Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t cut you open.”

Still, I did not give up. I knew I had to find answers. And the only way to do that was to truly face the fact that I was not normal. Little did I know that a fateful encounter would force me to confront my condition head-on…and in the process, help me realize one of my biggest dreams.

© Copyright 2012 James Cole, all rights reserved

If you would like to contact James Cole you can do so by e-mail us at contact@courage-to-shine.org with James Cole in the subject line, and we will forward him all e-mails we receive.

Part 3 – Jim’s short story is made into a short film “The Night before”

Categories: Courage to Shine News, Inspirational Stories | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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