Everyone has that someone whom they don't realize made a profound impact on
their life until they're gone. To some, it's merely a stranger they briefly
encountered, but for others it's someone who helped raise them. For me, it was
Jay Boisseau was a man of integrity. He always strived to do the right thing
and encouraged others, particularly me and my brother, to do the same. He
worked admirably and admired others' work. He overcame multiple adversaries in
his lifetime and managed to flourish as an adult after unimaginable suffering.
His father was an abusive alcoholic, and this seemed to have had an impact on
my dad's work ethic and self control later in life. He inspired me to work
hard, to thrive in school, and to always push my own limits so I could "be the
best Jessica (I) could be." I admired my dad's courage in what I perceived as
conquering life head on and never saw him succumb to sadness, fear, or pain.
Until he was diagnosed with cancer.
In January 2006, the doctors revealed that my dad had throat cancer, most
likely as a result of smoking from the ages of fifteen to forty. Although he
had quit nearly six years earlier, the damage had been done. He underwent
several radiation treatments and one surgery to remove a softball-sized tumor
from the left side of his throat. By March 2007, we thought the worst was
behind us. The doctors said "one in a hundred people have this type of cancer
return." Guess who that lucky one was? I remember walking upstairs on March 10,
2007 after having just returned from New York to see him lying in bed with a
breathing machine. My stomach dropped, and seeing as nobody knew the cancer was
back, I was terrified. He consoled me, saying "it's okay baby, I just can't
fall asleep without it." Later that month he was sent to the hospital. Then to
the ICU. And then to hospice. On Tuesday, July 3, I went with my whole family
to say what we found out two days later were our goodbyes. The image of my...