I love rollercoasters…always have…always will. But right now I’m on a rollercoaster ride that I don’t like very much.
I have ups on this rollercoaster…but unfortunately there are quite a few downs as well. More on that in a bit.
My fascination with rollercoasters began in high school and then hit its zenith while Zach was growing up. We’ve visited dozens of theme parks across the U.S.A. and ridden some of the best coasters the country has to offer.
One of our favorite groups to ride with were Zach’s cousins…from both sides of the family. Worlds of Fun in Kansas City was our favorite meeting place and in typical “Uncle Jeff” form, I was the one who coerced, bribed, bullied, and convinced the cousins to ride a coaster for the first time…or to take on the latest, greatest, highest, and fastest that the theme parks had to offer.
Some might claim I was part sadist with the cousins…but I prefer to believe that my goal was to create lifelong memories, to challenge them to face their fears, to gain confidence…and most of all to have fun! I’d feel guilty when the rides would sometimes begin or end in tears…but darned if the little twerps didn’t jump right back on…and it wasn’t long before they were the ones challenging me!
When I was first diagnosed last April, I got a special e-mail from my niece Molly Adler. I’d like to share it with you…the ”Jillsey” she refers to is my oldest sister and her mom.
I am literally dumbfounded. Silenced. Humbled. I don’t even know what to say. Jillsey told us last week and I am still searching for the words… You have been the best uncle a girl could ever hope for. Despite not living terribly near each other, I think our families did a great job maintaining special, meaningful relationships. I can’t even begin to recount all of the amazing memories. And of course the horrific: you convincing me that I would be just fine going down the elevator drop ride and just as we were about to drop, my bottom lip started quivering and my tough facade disappeared instantly ;). Classic Uncle Jeff! What a ride it has been indeed.
Even a whisper of the word cancer brings me back to the day Jillsey broke the news to us about her illness back in… 2002? 2003? Its funny that I cant even remember the exact year, but I literally can completely remember that moment as if it were yesterday. I thought my world was crashing down. I can only imagine what you guys are going through. It’s not easy stuff.
I know you are incredibly proud of the life you have led so far and you should be. It’s truly amazing. Beautiful, funny wife… smart, successful son… fulfilling career (from sports to cookies! Who would have thunk it??). You certainly have had a lifetime of happiness.
I know my family wasn’t necessarily raised to be particularly religious, but I still have my Mama so I know good things can happen to good people and that miracles are possible, so if there were a time for prayer, this is it. As I told Zach, I’m bringing out the big guns, crossing fingers and toes, asking for favors and praying with all my might.
I am sending so much hope and love to you guys.
The “Mollser” is now Dr. Molly Adler and lives in San Francisco. Like all the cousins, she loves adventures and recently went skydiving for the first time.
Now…more on my current rollercoaster ride. In trying to remain optimistic, positive, and encouraging…I haven’t shared a lot of the downs that I’ve been going through the last four months. But today, I’ll do so.
Bottom line…it’s no fun getting sick. For the first 57 years of my life, I was very rarely sick. I called in sick about once a year. But now, out of every 14 days, I get sick for about three to five days. And this isn’t just your ordinary…got a little cold type of sick. This is like having a full-blown case of the flu. Because of extreme nausea, I don’t eat, don’t drink…and I make quite a few trips to the bathroom during those three to five days. Thankfully, I usually sleep quite a bit which helps the bad days go by rather quickly.
The good news is that once I get over my chemotherapy sickness, I bounce back to “normal” fairly quickly and then I feel pretty good…that is until the next chemotherapy treatment.
I would love to get off chemo sometime in the near future…but the reality of the situation is that I might be on chemo for the rest of my life. And if that’s what it takes to stay alive…then I am okay with that.
I share all of this not asking for sympathy…but rather to try and be as honest as possible in sharing with you my journey…and let you know what it’s like to live with the big c.
I also continue to count myself as one of the “lucky” ones…not just for the wonderful life I’ve had…but to be one of the few pancreatic patients who has actually gotten better with treatment and am still able to lead a fairly normal life.
Maria and I are in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico for five days escaping the cold and enjoying some fun in the sun. We’ll golf, snorkel, and sightsee…but mostly we’ll lay by the beach or pool and enjoy a margarita or two.
This is one of the reasons I remain so thankful…despite being stage four and undergoing chemotherapy every two weeks…it hasn’t stopped me from scuba diving, skiing, playing 144 holes of golf in four days, and taking numerous trips to visit friends and family.
These trips really re-energize me…and I plan to stick with this routine for as long as possible!
Next Stop: A special Husker football locker room story…that’s never been told!