James “JJ” Hanson, an outspoken advocate for patient rights and against physician-assisted suicide, died Dec. 30 of brain cancer. He was 36.
Hanson worked closely with the New York State Catholic Conference and the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide for nearly three years, educating others about the dangers of doctor-assisted suicide and the compelling alternatives for patients facing terminal illness by using his own story to change hearts and minds.
Hanson was diagnosed with gliobastoma multiforme and given four months to live by doctors. He outlived the initial prognosis by more than three years by continuing to fight and seeking out new treatments.
“JJ lived his motto: ‘Every day is a gift, and you can’t ever let that go,’” said Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, in a statement.
Hanson grew up in Sullivan County and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served as an aide for Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. He later served as budget director for Ulster County Executive Mike Hein.
His wife, Kristen, and two young sons, James and Lucas, survive him.
A Funeral Mass was to be offered Thursday, Jan. 4, at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Yulan. Burial information was not available by CNY’s press time.