I am sure some of you who are new to the world of Sarcoma Cancer are wondering where we came up with the phrase “keepin’ it Kevin”, besides the obvious thing: Kevin was, well, Kevin! Unfortunately for those who never had the opportunity to meet Kevin, you were not able to experience his zest for life. I have never met a man who was so driven to conquer something. Not just with Sarcoma Cancer, but with his entire life.
When Kevin met me, he was determined to be with me. I was very resistant to the idea of a 2500 mile long distant relationship with a man 12 years older. I knew it would be difficult, and it was to say the least. But he charmed me, and won me-not with anything overtly grand, but with a genuine soul, a warm heart, and an incredible love.
When we were married, he was always driven to work hard, to begin an entirely new career. He had spent the past 10 years working as a UPS driver in Canada, and instead of starting his career over here in the States, he opted for a new challenge. We sent his resume to dozens of heating and air conditioning companies hoping someone would give him the time of day and agree to apprentice train him to become a certified HVAC technician. Rohrer’s One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning took that very chance, and although there were some bumps along the way, they kept him on, sent him to training in Arkansas, had him apprentice with the other guys, and he fit right in with a great company. In the end, they came through in amazing ways to help us through the cancer ordeal.
Kevin was a workout-aholic. He would spend hours at the gym, and despite the fact that I was completely opposite in that regard, he encouraged and pushed me to get in shape. He trained me on all the weight machines and the proper ways to lift and before we knew it, I was pushing more weight than most of the women in the gym, and we were a great workout team. He was dedicated to taking care of his body, to staying fit and active.
He grew up fishing with his grandfather in the abundant lakes around Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was a great memory for him. When we met, he became fascinated with the East Coast waters. His first trip to meet me, we went fossil finding at the renowned Calvert Cliffs in Maryland to find fossils-he was intense about this search. From that, he developed a deep love of the Atlantic Ocean, and before I knew it, he was passionately reading and researching online about surf fishing off the coast. I introduced him to my favorite beach, Assateague Island, Maryland which he loved as much as I, but for the fish. He spent time investigating proper techniques and practicing them. Sometimes he would spend 2 hours setting up the nearly perfect line, rig and hook, and by the fall of that first year, he had hooked himself a 4′ bull shark off the coast.
He was diagnosed-he had quickly gone downhill in a matter of weeks, came off the ventilator in record time from how his counts looked. Our oncologist sat and told us of the news of his possibly permanent esophagectomy (removal of his esophagus), of the type of cancer and treatment that lie ahead-of the realities. Kevin optimistically looked at the disease, and we agreed to REFUSE to acknowledge or view statistics. Every time coming off of another ventilator round, or another day surgery, yet another failure with his feeding tube, the numerous trips to the ER in the middle of the night with complications, he continued forward. He was determined. It was not until the night before he passed that he realized the battle could not be won, but he had won it in spirit and heart.
He Kept it Kevin no matter what. He approached cancer like he approached every single thing in life-with an amazing vigor, an action plan, an undeniable determination that could not be met. It was because of his belief that he would beat this disease that kept me going. His faith in himself, in God, in the doctors, the treatment, and mostly in Me, kept us trekking through the constant struggles we dealt with on a minute by minute basis. He kept me strong, and it is because of that, that I want to work on keepin’ it Kevin.
So I attack this benefit, the Keepin’ it Kevin Team Sarcoma Bike/Walk/Run being held this Saturday at 10 am, with that vigor. I will annoy you with my tweets, my posts, my constant attention to the event, because that is what Kevin would do. I want us to Keep it Kevin in everything we do-to attack life with a driving force that we capture those dreams, that we strive for success in all that we do, that we succeed even when it doesn’t seem like a success. Success does not always come in the form we expect, but if we keep it Kevin, it will be a success.