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Red Deer cancer survivor uses his experience to assist others

Sending messages to loved ones in the future
Cancer survivor Jason Kom-Tong has co-founded Heavenly Messenger. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)

When Jason Kom-Tong was a cancer patient with likely three months to live, he still desperately wanted to be part of his children’s lives after he was gone.

In 2013, Kom-Tong, of Red Deer, was diagnosed with aggressive Stage 4 tongue cancer. He underwent extensive surgery including tongue reconstruction, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He had a second surgery to remove his tongue, and a second reconstruction. His lower jaw was removed and bone from his leg was used to reconstruct his jaw.

During what he believed to be his final days, the father wrote stories about his life for his six-year-old son and four-year-old daughter to read when they grew up.

After he defied the odds and survived, the idea of creating a connection to loved ones stuck with him and he co-founded Heavenly Messenger that allows people to write letters that will be delivered after they die.

“There’s nothing like this, and when I was terminal and lying in the hospital bed, the only thing I wanted was for my children to remember who I was,” Kom-Tong said.

“When you find out that your life has a timeline, everything changes. Your whole perspective changes about what’s important, what’s not important. And this was the most important thing to me,” said the cancer survivor who wrote a book called The Dangerous Mind of a Dying Man detailing his journey.


Man with terminal cancer defying the odds

He said when he was facing death he wanted to be able to send a letter to his daughter on her wedding day, to his wife on their anniversary, on Halloween when his family would create a small haunted house for visitors.

Kom-Tong said when he was given his terminal diagnosis, it was impossible to share everything that he wanted his son to know as he grew up.

“I can’t tell him everything at once. It’s too much for him to handle. There are certain things you can tell a six-year-old, and there are certain things you can’t tell a six-year-old.”

He said his experience provided insight into what people in his situation wanted.

“I’ve met so many people and they all have the same heartache. We wanted to be part of (family member’s) lives. We wanted to be remembered, but had no outlet to do that. Now there’s a way.”

Heavenly Messenger stores e-mails, or actual letters, that will be sent on specific dates and for important life events. An account guardian chosen by the sender keeps the company up to date on the recipient’s address and event dates.

Kom-Tong said the company has been built to handle requests from Canada, the United States and Mexico.

He said when he was in the hospital he wouldn’t have known how to find such a service even if it had existed. That’s why he’s reaching out to health care providers to make people aware of the service.

“Getting the word out to let them know it’s available, that’s the difficult part. I just want everyone to know it’s available.”

He said Heavenly Messenger is much more than just a business.

“This is someone’s final words.”

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