Jason Braverman ’12 folded 1,000 paper cranes for his girlfriend to celebrate their one-year anniversary. More than just a thoughtful handmade gesture, the cranes were also symbolic of Braverman’s battle with brain cancer. Diagnosed while a first-year at Hobart, he has been in remission since 2008. Recently, the Finger Lakes Times wrote about Braverman and the cranes, which will become part of an exhibit at the Clifton Springs Hospital and Clinic.
The article explains, “Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes so pleases the gods that a wish will be granted.”
Braverman folded all 1,000 by hand for William Smith alum Betsy Dingman ’08, but, the article notes, “the couple realized right away that the gift might be a bit too much for Betsy’s apartment.”
They have donated the cranes in an 8-foot tall tower design to the hospital.
Braverman is a member of the Orange Key and has been named to the Dean’s List.
Dingman earned her B.A. in public policy studies and religious studies from William Smith. As a student, she worked as a student assistant in the Interlibrary Loan Department of the Warren H. Smith Library, was a member of Three Miles Lost and Peer Ministry. She was also the recipient of a Vocal Music Arts Scholarship.
The full story follows.
Finger Lakes Times
1,000 cranes of hope
Mike Cutillo • CONNECTIONS • March 25, 2011
Thanks to Jason Braverman’s dexterity and generosity – and the fact that his girlfriend has a small apartment in Boston – Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic is going to be the recipient of a very special gift.
Make that 1,000 special gifts all rolled into one colorful 8-foot tall exhibit that soon will be on display in the hospital’s main lobby.
One thousand origami cranes. All made by hand, that is, by Jason Braverman’s hands.
As any cancer patient can tell you, 1,000 cranes have come to symbolize hope for those with the disease – a takeoff of an ancient Japanese legend.
Braverman, who will graduate from Hobart College in 2012, knows all about the legend. Unfortunately, he knows too much about cancer, too, having survived a bout with brain cancer that was diagnosed during his freshman year at Hobart.
In remission since 2008 and a fan of origami, he made the 1,000 cranes, one by one, for his girlfriend, Betsy Dingman, a William Smith graduate whom he met while both were members of the Colleges’ Chorale.
“I gave them to her on Valentine’s Day to celebrate our three-year anniversary,” he said.
Betsy’s first reaction, jokingly: “I’m not sick, you know?”
She actually loved the cranes, but Jason said the couple realized right away that the gift might be a bit too much for Betsy’s apartment.
“Her bedroom is just too small to accommodate them,” Jason said. “So we decided that it would be nice to donate them to an oncology office.”
They decided on Clifton Springs and sent an e-mail to Patty Constantino, the practice administrator at Finger Lakes Hematology & Oncology with Drs. Stephen Ignaczak and Bruce Yirinec.
“We are planning to use it as a way to highlight Cancer Survivor Day on June 3,” Constantino said. “It means so much to us because the cost of cancer is so devastating to families and we here at the hospital have a patient assistance fund that always needs donations. Our hope is to use this as a visible tool that will encourage donations.”
Japanese legend has it that anyone who folds 1,000 paper cranes so pleases the gods that a wish will be granted.
In modern day lore, Sadako Sasaki was just a baby when the atom bomb was dropped on her city of Hiroshima in 1945. Nine years later, she contracted leukemia, then called the “atom bomb disease.”
She attempted to fold 1,000 cranes in the hopes that the gods would make her disease go away, but died peacefully in her sleep after making only 644.
Jason’s story began with a multitude of symptoms – double vision, nausea, numb hands – that initially were misdiagnosed as a sinus infection or the flu. When he and his family learned it was brain cancer, he took it well.
“To be honest, I don’t think I took it as hard as most people,” he said. “I just followed directions, did what the doctors told me and put my trust in them.”
There were, he confessed, moments when he cried, especially when he heard his favorite songs, but when he awoke from his first surgery, he reverted to his light-hearted self.
His mom, his dad and his doctor hovered over him as he came to, and focusing in on each of them, he said: “Hi mom. Hi doctor. Who the hell are you?”
Also, with playing a musical instrument being a key recovery sign for those who can, Jason’s family asked for a keyboard for him. The first tune he hammered out: Billy Joel’s “Only the Good Die Young.”
As for the cranes, Jason – majoring in architecture and music with plans to be a teacher – made them in a couple of weeks. Each takes about a dozen folds and can be made in a couple of minutes.
“I’m a big fan of origami. I like to do a lot of things with my hands,” he said. “I can make much more complex things than cranes.”
Most of the cranes are made out of white paper, but there is a rainbow swirl of colored ones spiraling through the center of the tower. They are held together by paperclips, and Jason said it takes about half an hour to assemble or disassemble the display.
He said he’s happy with the plans being made at Clifton Springs Hospital & Clinic for his cranes.
“I’m just glad that they have a good home,” he said. “I would feel sad if they had to recycle them.”
There’s no place in Japanese folklore for that.
News Editor Mike Cutillo writes a weekly column about the special people, places and issues of the Finger Lakes. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 789-3333 ext. 250.