Coping with Grief
We would like to offer our sincere support to anyone coping with grief. Enter your email below for our complimentary daily grief messages. Messages run for up to one year and you can stop at any time. Your email will not be used for any other purpose.
Clifton Park - Kind. Loving. Determined. Smart. Athletic. Witty. Humble. Positive. These words only scratch the surface in describing 22 year old Jonathan Matthew DeChalus of Clifton Park, New York. After a year and half battle with a most aggressive brain cancer, our warrior passed away on December 6, 2023. Surrounded by his devoted parents, Karen and Bernard DeChalus, as well as his loving Aunt Cathy, Jonathan took his last breath at Villa Marie Clair, a most compassionate hospice facility in New Jersey.
Born in New York City on June 12, 2001, Jonathan lived in Tribeca, just blocks away from the World Trade Center. This miracle child on 9/11 would become the saving grace to his parents as hell was raging outside their window. Sadly, he was considered a survivor of that day and was part of the WTC Health Registry. Yet while the cause of death was cancer; cancer NEVER defined the life of this amazing young man.
A beautiful smile always on his face, Jonathan took pleasure in the simple things in life. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He never hesitated in helping any friend or family member in need. He loved playing and watching basketball and everyone knew that his favorite team was the Boston Celtics. He loved being with his friends, particularly his brothers at the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity at Binghamton University and others he had made and kept since freshman year. Taking day trips or traveling abroad was a passion of Jonathan’s. He often spoke of his trip to Spain and this past summer’s graduation gift of seeing Italy.
The keeper of random facts, this whiz at Jeopardy constantly shocked his parents with his quick and right answers. Between Covid and being at home to recuperate, Jonathan truly enjoyed being with his family, including his dog Charlie. A JV and Varsity basketball player who often didn’t receive the playing time he deserved, Jonathan (or JD as his coaches called him) wrote about that experience in his college essays.” I might not have gotten the time on the court that I would have liked,” Jonathan said.” But I was able to help my teammates become better players.” That was Jonathan in a nutshell: always thinking about others.
Cancer struck Jonathan in May of 2022 when he was rushed to the hospital and had his first brain surgery. Despite a dim prognosis and losing left peripheral vision, this young man never complained. Not once. He simply looked forward with a strength and determination which stunned and impressed his many doctors and nurses. Those weeks in the hospital, all Jonathan cared about was his upcoming summer internship at the Port Authority in NYC. It was full circle for him as he was assigned to the PA’s World Trade Center Reconstruction Division. His surgeon told us that Jonathan would likely be unable to do this internship least of all finish his senior year at Binghamton University. His positivity and focus amazed everyone. Within two weeks, Jonathan needed a second surgery and again was determined to do the internship. “Nothing can hold me back,” he said. And nothing did. After spending his 21st birthday in Neuro ICU , Jonathan left the hospital in a wheelchair and an unknown future. Despite the need for radiation, chemo, PT/OT and more, Jonathan remotely began his PA summer internship! Furthermore, with the assistance of a caring Binghamton University community, Jonathan returned to college in August of 2022 to begin his senior year. Despite further surgery, continued chemo and radiation and other physical setbacks, Jonathan graduated on time, earning his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering on May 14, 2023 (Mother’s Day). He also interviewed for many jobs, received offers and accepted a dream job that was still waiting for him at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) in his beloved New York City.
So loved and admired was this smiling, humble young man. It is indeed fitting that his fraternity name was “Clifford” – a gentle giant. The words of his Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) oncologist provide comfort to the family. Dr. Stone said, “Jonathan made more of an impact, inspired more people, and accomplished more in his all too short life than most people do in a long lifetime>”
Jonathan is survived by many friends and extended family. He will be sorely missed by his parents, grandmother (Maaa) Frances Scheer and his Aunt Cathy and honestly, anyone who has met this sweet, heroic being.
Jonathan’s family are beyond thankful to the incredible care provided by the medical community, particularly Dr Stone, Dr. Weaver, Dr. Meleis, Dr. Juliano and
countless nurses at AMC, MSK and Hackensack University Medical Center. Family is also grateful for the vast support given by family and friends – near and far, including our Binghamton University family.
Funeral services for Jonathan will be held on Sunday December 10th at 1:30 pm at Congregation Gates of Heaven, 852 Ashmore Ave. in Schenectady. Burial will follow and be private for the family. Shiva will be held at the DeChalus residence on Sunday and Monday from 6:00 - 8:00 pm with a Shiva Minyan at 7pm each night.
Jonathan’s final gift was participating in Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Last Wish Program, It is the family’s hope that Jonathan will be a part of finding a cure for cancer. In lieu of flowers, friends and family are encouraged to donate to: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center at http://mskcc.convio.net/goto/HonoringJonathan. Checks can be mailed to: Attn: Megan Berry, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Office of Development, PO Box 27106 New York, NY 10087. Please indicate on the check memo line that the gift is honoring Jonathan DeChalus