Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jeff! January 22, 1959

Happy Birthday, Jeff--today you are the big Five-Oh! It's not the way I thought we would celebrate your 50th birthday--there will be no surprise party, no birthday cake, no presents. No smiles and well wishes from your friends--no jokes about being "over the hill." The day will be filled with quiet reflections of our years together, memories of your stories from your youth, I will see you in our children and wish you could hear them sing "Happy Birthday, Daddy." I still can't bring myself to visit your grave--I know you are not there. I created a headstone that captured your love of sports--it reads "Forever in Our Hearts." I think it is what you would have wanted. This is not your legacy--just a marker of where we laid your body after the fight with cancer was finished. You won by the way...

Your legacy is the gift that we will give other cancer patients. The Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation. It will take work and patience--like your journey through the cancer. It will happen, though--and life will get better for those fighting like you fought. It will be better for them because of what you experienced. It will be better because it has to be. It will be better because our community has a heart of gold and knows how to reach out to others to make the impossible possible. The goal of the foundation is simple really. Our mission is to bring a higher level of skilled care to the oncology medical community in the Ozarks. We plan to accomplish this by providing incentive to bring more nurses and doctors to Springfield that specialize in treating all cancers. Currently, our oncology specialists are few in number and their demand is great. We have a goal of starting with the educational process at the medical and nursing schools. To help guide new nurses and doctors that when caring for urgent care patients, they way we address, speak to, touch and help those dealing with and fighting the effects of cancer must be done with a special level of care. Improving technology to include one's list of medications and available cancer-specific protocols, enlarging and creating a more efficient Angel Network and helping to provide a financial network to ease the concerns of patients and family members are other areas of concentration for the organization. A mobile cancer care unit could provide a level of care unprecedented in the Midwest.

The Jeffrey A. Melton Urgent Care Cancer Foundation is the official name--I prefer to call it simply "Jeff's Hope." Our hope is to eliminate the external stresses created by ineffective care and unanswered questions. We need to bring attention to what a cancer patient experiences so that we can improve conditions and therefore improve survival rates. It's true--no one knows until they experience cancer. Not even the oncologists and nurses. I believe that our medical communities can accomplish the goals of the foundation. We must start by demanding the changes that will make it better for those in the fight for their life. Become a patient advocate--insist on changes--ask questions--nothing can ever improve if we don't speak up--how can we not do this for those we love?


Nanny said...

I knew Jeff's birthday was coming up. Couldn't remember the exact date. I just know that we were supposed to be celebrating him and I turning 50 within weeks of each other. I admire and appreciate your hard work in Jeff's name! I first hand see the need. I wish I could do more to help you. My love always, Cheryl

Gillian Nuttall said...

How very moving. I lost a very dear friend in May 2008, there is not a day goes by when I don't think about him, he was just 30. I set up in an attempt to raise awareness and of course some funds for the Christie for research here in the UK. I hope there are some answers found in my lifetime.