Today: Jeff's Legacy
"I wanted to focus on beating the disease and not wasting my energy on the doctors who missed the diagnosis. It had already happened to me, and I wanted to do something to make sure it didn't happen to anyone else."
Jeff's legacy is being carried out by gen eff, which is kicking ass and taking names (in a good way!). To see how you can get involved and get heard, click here.
This is one of the last pictures we have of Jeff. Through it all, he never lost that magnetic smile.
Jeffrey spreads the word every chance he can
He is a natural on camera and is featured in Associated Press stories in newspapers across the country and many TV news programs including CNN Saturday Morning and ESPN's "Cold Pizza". He was also included in the "In Memoriam" segment of ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" the Sunday after his death.
Hangin' out with Indian's manager, Eric Wedge.
Jeff continues to use his Cancer Sucks Ballpark Tour to to get the word out about cancer risks for young adults.
The All-star Game, Pittsburgh
Jeff was in the hospital the morning of this game, and he told his oncologist to release him, or he'd bust out to make it to the game. He was interviewed by KDKA radio while waiting for his discharge-- they loved his story and his determination.
Flattering? Uh, no. Hilarious? Yeah! Jeff--with his warped sense of humor-- made us take a plumber shot at every single ballpark. He NEVER stopped making us laugh!
This was Jeff's favorite stop of the spread-awareness Ballpark Tour; he loved the history and tradition that Fenway represented, and he thought the fans were awesome!
Keeping it real with little brother, Ross.
The cancer spread throughout Jeff's body, and doctors said survival odds were bleak. He did his best to stay positive, and came up with the idea of the "Cancer Sucks" Ballpark Tour-- visiting every major league ballpark to spread awareness of adolescent and young adult cancer research and funding.
Back in the hospital.
As the "big kid" on the floor, Jeff made it a point to visit all of his little friends on treatment days. (He even occasionally exchanged Disney Princess Band-Aids with his friend, Gracie.) Helping others became a mission for Jeff, and gave him the strength to keep fighting. It worked. He went into remission again shortly after this pic was taken.
Yeah, another relapse.
Jeff relapsed again in April 2005, but told his oncologist he wanted to "bring out the big guns." He went to Children's hospital for more aggressive treatment.
Best holiday gift ever.
Jeff's cancer retreated again, and he celebrated with a Christmas Eve jam session with friends and family. (That's his great-grandpa's spiffy hat he's wearing.)
The show must go on.
Jeff played Diesel in a 6-week run of West Side Story. This pic was taken opening night--just after Jeff had finished a round of chemo/radiation. He didn't tell the rest of the cast or the director because he didn't want to be treated differently.
His cancer was back, but Jeff lead "Team Newbe" in the Twinsburg Relay for Life to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
Finally, a break.
The cancer stopped advancing. When this pic was taken, Jeff was back at UT for spring semester, chowing down on Rice Krispy treats, and getting things back to NORMAL.
Did we mention this sucks?
Chemo. Yeah. Your hair falls out, you puke-a lot, and you're crazy tired all the time.
April, 2003: Chemo begins.
Only 1 in 5 people survive Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma, but Jeff was determined to beat the odds. He never lost his sense of humor - he made us take this pic after he filled the container from all the IVs used to flush out of his body.
Home for Spring Break: It's cancer.
Jeff had swollen lymph nodes, chest pains and just felt rotten. The docs dismissed his symptoms, figuring he was too young to have anything serious. On April 11, 2003, Jeff was diagnosed with Stage 4 Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma - a rare form of cancer. It had been spreading throughout his body all this time.
Freshman Year at UT: Is something wrong?
Jeff was excited to be in college and busy with classwork, but he just didn't feel right. He had discovered a lump in his testicle, and went to University Clinic. The doctor explained it away as a simple injury or infection.
Jeff with his high school sweetheart, Tara, and his buddy, Jeremy. The future looked nothing but bright.
Hangin' with the crew in the Jr. High cafe
If there was a good time going on, you can bet Jeff was in the middle of it. (OK, kind of the middle, he's second from the left back, here.)
Girls always loved Jeff. And Jeff loved girls.nBut baseball was his first passion.
Bath time rocks!
Jeff was just always happy...no matter what he was doing.
Aw. Welcome to the world, Jeff.