Cancer Victory Receives Kings Royal Treatment

Auburn Journal   BY Gus Thomson   January 28, 2015

[Note: Bee-Girl, Sarah Red-Laird posted this inspirational story today on Facebook. If you were at the 2014 CSBA Convention, you may have met Justin. Thank you so much, Sarah, for sharing. Note from Sarah: "Justin is not only my bee conservation super twin, he is an amazing person, and a good friend who is real good at fixing busted windshield wipers during epic storms. And his story also goes to show that the relationship he has with the outdoors is mutually beneficial. While he was battling AGAINST cancer, he was also battling FOR something life giving and precious. Read on..."]

Placer Land Trust's Jason Wages honored by Kaiser Permanente, Sacramento Kings
Justin Wages (left), Placer Land Trust inspects the Aeolia Preserve on the edge of the American River Canyon with Jeff Ward, Stewardship Manager
More than 15,000 people watched and cheered Placer Land Trust’s land manager Justin Wages take the court at a Sacramento Kings game to be honored by Kaiser Permanente for his battle back from cancer.

Wages’ story was one of four highlighted by the Kings in partnership with Kaiser Permanente during Cancer Awareness Night.

The Jan. 16 event gave individuals and their supporters and caregivers an opportunity to tell their inspirational stories. For Wages, the night was even more a celebration because it came on the eve of the third anniversary of his last surgery to remove part of his lung, making him cancer-free.

Wages said the event was “incredible” in terms of the lives he could have an impact on by recounting his story. Kaiser Permanente showed a short video telling the story of Wages and his care team during the break after the first quarter. Then the group paraded on the court to thunderous applause.

Part of Wages’ role with the land trust is ensuring seeds are planted to promote future growth of oak woodlands. In fact, he was out with a youth group soon after the Kings game planting acorns on Land Trust overseen property.

Wages said Tuesday that he’s hoping his story will plant the seed of an idea in the minds of Kings fans to get screened for cancer.

“If just one person who was at the game goes in early and is checked out, rather than putting things off, and cancer is caught early, I’ll have made a difference,” Wages said.

Wages, 39, was working part-time at the Auburn-based land trust and attending Sierra College in 2009 when he was diagnosed with stage-four cancer.

“I had school, I had work, and I had cancer,” Wages said. “I couldn’t do all three. I didn’t have a choice about the cancer, so I chose work and Placer Land Trust became my rock.”

Wages underwent chemotherapy and five surgeries, all the while keeping up his work and spirits at the land trust.

“I’d be up at 5 a.m. scattering seeds at one of our preserves and I’d have to go behind a tree to throw up,” Wages said.

Co-workers marveled at his dedication. Placer Land Trust Assistant Director Jessica Daugherty recalled that in the middle of a drought, Wages showed his concern after wildflowers had been planted and there was a possibility they would dry up in the heat.

“Even though he was fresh out of surgery and totally sick, he hiked out there in the heat – with a chemo bag slung over his shoulder – so he could water the seeds,” Daugherty said.

For Wages, the work was his bedrock and his colleagues some of his greatest supporters through some tough times emotionally and physically....

Read the entire article at...