The Charette family is April honoree for Courage in The County, a series that spotlights local Aroostook County individuals and families who have shown courage dealing with cancer. The series is intended to encourages efforts leading to early detection and promote activities that support local cancer patients. 

In 2004, Jason Charette of Presque Isle began having serious headaches and was frequently sick to his stomach. After a CT scan, doctors discovered a significant sized tumor on his brain and he was diagnosed with Astrocytomas brain cancer. It was not curable.

At the time of his diagnosis, Jason was 28 years old. He had surgery to remove half of the tumor and continued to have numerous appointments at TAMC and monthly trips to Dana Farber in Boston. Charette’s cancer was caused by a rare genetic disease called NF1, or Neurofibromatosis type 1.

After he began having seizures, his family decided that it was time to let hospice take place. Jason passed away two years after his diagnosis, at the age of 30.

The late Jason Charette snuggles with his daughter Natalie when she was only 2. Charette was diagnosed with an Astrocytomas brain tumor in 2004 and lost his cancer battle two years later. The Charette family continues to honor his memory.

Ten years later, his widow Jenny and daughter Natalie, along with his sister Dawn, nephew Hunter and the rest of the family, continue to be a consistent source of inspiration for those dealing with a loss from this terrible disease.

Before he passed, Jason was able to participate in a Relay-for-Life event. Jenny and her family have continued the tradition ever since.

“It makes us feel like we’re doing something for him; honoring him. He would have done that for somebody else,” said Jenny Charette, “He would have been the first one to step up to the plate and make sure that we were taking care of somebody else. So we do it in the hopes that another family doesn’t have to go through what we have.”

Jenny said that Jason was one of a kind. He never put himself first. It was always about who needed him more, and he was always there. “We do the things we do to keep his memory alive,” she said, “Because he would do those things.”

Natalie, Jason and Jenny’s daughter, was only two years old when she lost her father. Now thirteen, she is always finding new ways to remember and honor him.

“For his birthdays and Father’s day we go visit him at the cemetery and we write messages on balloons and send them up to Heaven,” Natalie said.

Dawn Charette lost her brother, and her son Hunter lost a pretty special uncle when Jason passed. They continue to lead by example, just like the rest of the family, when it comes to coping with loss. Families of those lost to cancer often say that the ‘missing them’ part never goes away. It doesn’t really get easier; it just becomes a different way of living.

Hunter keeps his uncle’s picture in plain sight for a reason. “We have a picture of him downstairs. When I sleep there I look at him and it’s like he’s looking down on me. It makes me feel….happy,” Hunter said.

Courage in The County is a collaboration of TAMC, Northern Maine Medical Center, Clukey’s Auto Supply, NorState Federal Credit Union and WAGM-TV.

If you would like your story, or the story of a friend or family member, to be considered as part of the Courage in The County PSA Campaign, fill out a nomination at the website.

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