Our warrior of the month for March was nominated by his loving niece, Katie. Joe, aged 59, was diagnosed on December 27th, 2018. This is his story:
“In mid November of 2018, my uncle Joe began experiencing excruciating back and abdominal pain that resulted in a trip to the emergency room for what he thought maybe kidney stones. After bloodwork, CT scans, an MRI, and a biopsy, we found ourselves at Cleveland Clinic with the diagnosis of adenocarcinoma pancreatic cancer.
We were told that because the cancer had already metastasized to the liver and lymph nodes, surgery was not an option and that he should get his affairs in order.
This was a shock to all of us. He’s the guy that works out daily, takes a multitude of natural vitamins, rides his bike 40 miles on a sunny day, doesn’t drink excessively, doesn’t smoke, and eats clean.
But as many of you know, cancer does not discriminate! Since his diagnosis, he has been receiving chemotherapy and palliative care through the Cleveland Clinic. He is determined to fight! For anyone that knows him, giving up is not an option.
For most of his life, he has fought the odds! We always refer to him as Superman. We thought that he had nine lives. After all, he’s been severely electrocuted, causing him to lose several toes; he was hit by a car as a child, and hit by a truck as an adult while out jogging; has had his eyeball reattached after a freak childhood accident, etc. etc.
He has a wicked sense of humor that has gotten him through many of these ordeals, and a faith that drives him to overcome any obstacle. He loves to joke around and make people laugh.
Upon hearing his diagnosis his response was “Pancreatic Cancer already took the sexiest man alive, now it’s coming for the next sexiest man!” (referring to Patrick Swayze).
Joe spent 21 years in Law Enforcement as a NC state trooper, followed by 6 years as a Juvenile Corrections Officer. When he became a single dad to two young sons, he realized that Law Enforcement was not conducive to being a single dad and raising children. He went back to school, graduated, and began work in the field of Physical Therapy.
His sons are now grown; the youngest is in college and still living at home. Joe has worked as an independent contractor for several nursing homes, in addition to home health agencies until late December when he was no longer physically able.
The thought of not being there for his patients was a devastating blow. Helping them achieve their goals, and putting a smile on their face was ‘Superman’s’ kryptonite. It brought him so much joy.
To this day he worries about his patients and talks about his co-workers that became his family. He enjoyed the challenges of “difficult” patients and could reach them when others failed.
I want to nominate my uncle because even after everything, he seems to be the one to lift everyone’s spirits. He is always positive, upbeat, and finds the silver lining in every situation. More than anyone I know, he deserves to be recognized as a warrior.”