Thursday, September 18, 2014

Saying farewell to Derek Jeter

When Derek Jeter announced during spring training 2014 that this season would be his last season, the sadness that I felt was enormous.  Derek Jeter, the skinny kid from Kalamazoo, MI had such an impact on my life that stretched way beyond baseball, hearing of his retirement felt like a death in the family.  It might seem a bit dramatic, let me explain.

In the summer of 2009, my fiancé was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  This was his second battle with the disease, he had been in remission for over 10 years.  Chemotherapy would start immediately.  2 treatments per month for the next 6 months.  The first few months weren't bad, some mild side effects from the chemo, nothing he couldn't handle.  Around month 3, the side effects became more challenging to deal with.  But with the excitement of the Yankees going to the World Series, my fiancé focused on the team as much as possible.  Of course, that included Derek Jeter. 

Unless you've been a caregiver to a loved one going through a battle like this, it's very hard to appreciate the little things that happen in the course of a day that can bring a smile to sick man's face, and Derek Jeter did just that.  Watching the Yankees win the World Series that year did more for my fiancé's spirit than I could ever have imagined.

After the celebration of the win died down, my fiancé and I were dropped back into reality that there was still another battle to be won, beating the cancer.  Things were progressing nicely, until the chemo stopped being effective and a new mix of drugs was needed to fight the cancer.  The drugs, more potent than the first set, left my fiancé hospitalized numerous times, making the mental battle to stay positive that much more challenging. 

During the 2010-2012 seasons, my fiancé's health got much worse.  I had read so many books on being a caregiver, things to do for the patient, and the importance of staying positive and how that could help in the fight.  This is where Derek Jeter became another member of my family.  My fiancé would watch every game he could, he would see Derek strike out, he would see him hit a homerun, he would see him defend himself with the critics who called him "old."  He would see that no matter what, Derek stayed focus on the task at hand, and never gave up.  My fiancé took that to heart.  He focused on getting better.  He focused on positive thoughts no matter how badly the side effects from the chemo were making him feel.  When the doctors told us the cancerous tumor was too big to remove and was pressing on his heart, he didn't let that get him down, he compared it to the bases being loaded, 2 outs, and Derek at the plate looking for an area of where to hit the ball to get a run scored.  It might not make too much sense, but for him, it was the only thing helping him get through this ordeal.

In the fall of 2012, my fiancé lost his battle with cancer.  Ironically, 2 weeks after he passed away, Derek broke his ankle and had to be carried off the field.  While I watched our Captain in visible pain and shock, I couldn't help but feel a connection between Derek and my fiancé. 

Derek Jeter, an amazing baseball player who has touched so many fans lives for generations to come, was the biggest inspiration for my fiancé to fight in his battle with cancer.  Every time an announcer would say Jeter was 0-10, boom, he would come through with a hit, or homerun; every time one of the doctors would tell us bad news, boom, he would brush it off, and move on.  Even though he lost his battle with cancer, he never gave up, he found comfort in Derek Jeter.

If you've managed to read through all of this, thank you.  This wasn't meant to be a sad sappy post, but rather an insight into my life with Derek Jeter being a huge part of it.  He will be missed not only on the field, but off as well.  If I ever had the chance to meet Derek Jeter, the only 2 words I would say to him... thank you.

1 comment:

  1. Holy goosebumps Judy. This post was great. I am very sorry for your loss but I am glad he found a little something to get him through it. I'm sure it made it much easier on both of you. I really think if anyone is reading this and have a connection to Derek Jeter it needs to be forwarded to him.

    Thank you for sharing Judy.


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