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Jake Dibel

The Measure of a Young Man’s Life

Dr. Ghosh recently said, “We don’t measure our lives by how many years we live, but by the impact we have on others.” He said these words to the parents of John (Jake) Dibel, when they came to thank us for our care. By Dr. Ghosh’s measure, Jake Dibel lived an abundant life, long in spirit and deep and wide in love.

We were privileged to care for Jake in his final months. He was finishing his sophomore year at the University of Iowa, where he’d received a full-ride scholarship and had plans to pursue a doctorate in pharmacology and plant-based science. He was fulfilling his promise, excelling with the same steady discipline he’d shown since childhood. And he was fighting something no twenty-year-old should have to face: several types of cancer and two debilitating strokes.

Living Fully

Through it all, Jake lived for a purpose beyond himself. He pushed himself to complete his classes, finishing with all A’s. He focused on his mom, dad and brothers, worrying about their well-being rather than his own. He comforted friends and classmates who came to visit, lightening their mood. Every time Jake came to The Ghosh Center, he inspired us and left us better than we’d been.

Jake transferred his care to us after being at a university-based cancer center. According to his mother, Jana, Jake had felt like a number there. She said, “We didn’t come here expecting a miracle cure. We came here because we needed people to see him as we saw him.”

We saw you, Jake. We saw you in your humanity and your humility. We saw you studying your lessons, laughing with your family, watching the birds. We saw you breathe in the peace of this place and infuse the air with your gentle grace.

Living On

Your legacy continues. Because you often had to wait for blood donations, you advocated for others to give blood. Because you received a stem cell transplant on your 19th birthday, your family is working to help others receive this precious gift. You donated your body to the University of Iowa Deeded Body Program so others could learn.

Your Celebration of Life service was attended by hundreds of people, who’ve been inspired by your selfless example of love. There was a large poster, thanking people for so many things. Things like:

  • Supporting your brothers, Ben and Sam
  • Letters and cards of encouragement
  • Listening
  • Talking
  • Sitting quietly in waiting rooms, emergency rooms and hospital rooms
  • Countless prayers
  • Trees planted in your honor
  • Making baseball an escape and enjoyable place to be
  • Gifts and care packages
  • Hugs and laughter
  • Raising money for expenses
  • Taking care of things at home
  • Beautiful artwork
  • Incredible hospice care

And, finally, for being your friend. Which came so easily to all of us because of who you were.

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6 Comments

  • Dixie Estrem says:
    I did not know Jake personally. But I knew him for all the lives he touched. An amazing person and a role model for all of us no matter how old we are. Thank you for sharing your life, Jake. Your legacy will live on.
  • Tom Hogan says:
    Very touching and humbling. Jake gave us the template of how to live while facing death.
  • Julli says:
    THANK YOU for Jake's Tribute! He celebrated his short life to the fullest. An inspiration to all of us who have cancer and also to those who have survived. THANK YOU, JAKE DIBEL! May GOD BLESS your amazing family. 💞
  • Barbara and Terry Green says:
    What a beautiful tribute to Jake and his all-too-short life. We only knew Jake as a precious little boy: smart, eager, curious - who enjoyed "working" with tools and exploring the world around him. Yesterday we celebrated my husband's Day+100 post stem cell transplant. Jake went through it twice. He lived a courageous life and encouraged others by his example. May you rest in peace, Jake.
  • Dana Liston says:
    From the the very beginning when Jake spent 24 hours in my husband's room at the University, we knew he was a kind, gentle soul. His deameanor towards the Dr. and nurses was one that you wish that all young people would have. Al and Jake were separated later that day, but Jake remained in our hearts for ever. Allen was waiting for Jake as he entered Heaven. He will be well taken care of. We now have two angels looking over us😢💕 Prayers of strength and comfort to all of you.
  • Diane McClure says:
    We knew Jake as a little boy. We enjoyed many fun times together at our neighborhood pool. My daughters babysat him. Reading Dr. Ghosh's reflections made us say, "That's Jake!" He was born with gifts he used throughout his short life. We have been blessed knowing him and his family. Our daughter Meredith and best friend and neighbor Hannah, now have more of the Hood kids in heaven!

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