Jim's obituary as submitted to the Washington Post...

Jim Starr was a friend like no other. In the summer of 2004 he was diagnosed with anaplastic carcinoma, a very aggressive form of cancer. Jim and Beth Starr ("Pooh and Bean") immediately embarked on a an unbelievably difficult journey, which we followed on this web site.

On Monday, November 8, 2004 we lost Jim. What you will see below is a testament to him, and to his wife Beth who took so much on her shoulders during the fight. If you have ever felt cynical about the role the internet can play in our lives, this site will change your mind. Through our messages and Beth's updates, we were all able to participate in the story of this beautiful, funny man in a way we never could have otherwise.

Jim was caring, funny and open; and so many stories arouse from that. Some were told at the memorial service. There are many more, and in time I hope to collect them.
If you have a Jim Starr story, please do not hesitate to post it here!

Here, then, is the website as we followed it through the final chapter of Jim's time with us. The contacts are no longer active, but you can still leave messages...


Use these links on a regular basis:

  • view periodic updates from Jim & Beth...
  • view and leave messages on their message board (Note: the message board has been retired pending an upgrade)
  • if you would like to be on the help list, email your contact information to:
  • or phone: call Peter Hui
    (Please note that the help list has been retired. Your love and support have been wonderful!)

Please refer other friends of Jim & Beth to www.JimStarrOnline.com for information!


  What happened?
Jim has had chronic lower back problems for decades. In March 2004, after moving some furniture, he developed some pretty bad (but not unusual) back problems. Travel and professional obligations prevented him from doing more than getting a hydrocortisone shot. ln June he underwent an exam with a specialist who prescribed physical therapy. But the pain persisted after several weeks and even worsened, much to the surprise of the therapists. At the end of July Jim went to see his internist, who suspected an infection. A blood test revealed both a high white blood cell count and a high sedimentation rate. The problem was that they could never identify an infectious agent. After an immense number of painful tests they discovered this: inoperable, stage 4 anaplastic carcinoma of unknown origin that has metastasized to the bone. The doctors believe that it started in the lung.
  What is anaplastic carcinoma?
Anaplastic carcinoma is a rare form of cancer that can quickly spread to other organs and bones (though often mentioned as a thyroid cancer, its origins are usually unknown).
  What kind of treatment will Jim receive?
Because this is a very aggressive form of cancer, Jim's team of doctors have prescribed an equally aggressive response. He received his diagnosis on Friday, August 6th. On Monday, August 9th he started a 10-round (in 12 days) course of radiation treatment. He also has had a first course of chemotherapy. These will continue.
  How do the treatments affect him?
Daily radiation treatments are a full time job. As part of the treatment Jim is very heavily medicated and sleeps a lot. The meds strongly effect his cognitive functioning. "It is not only that it is difficult to concentrate, but it is also a matter of the quality of my thought being less adequate than I would like it (and have come to depend upon it) to be." But Jim points out that he has good days as well.
  How has this changed Jim and Beth's daily life?
"Needless to say, Beth and I are have a lot of new learning to do, practices to implement and adjustments. We are overwhelmed and we are doing the very best that we can." Beth is continuing to work, as well as take Jim to treatments. They have really had to hit the ground running, so there is much to do and little time to contemplate.
  What is Jim's frame of mind?
"I cannot tell you how much your outpourings and support have meant to Beth and me. We were touched deeply and greatly moved by your expressions of love. If I've learned anything at all in my experiences in this life, it is that for love to be effective, it must be a positive, curative force. Love always heals." (What's more, you will be happy to hear that Jim's sense of humor is still quite in tact.)
  What help will they need?
Jim and Beth's needs will unfold on a day-to-day basis. As you can imagine, there is no manual for how to go about this. The contacts you see at the top of this web page will keep track the situation and be available to advise us on what we each can do to help.
  What is the best way to get in touch with Jim and Beth?
"I hope that you will accept this web site as our way of being able to communicate what is going on in our immensely-complexified lives. Obviously, we do not have a great deal of time to do more. If I could, I'd speak with each of you, but I hope that this can be an acceptable alternative. We'll be adding stuff to the web site. May we all love and heal."

Where can I find more information on anaplastic carcinoma?