In Memory of Jack Mobley, Jr.
Before the story of Jack’s diagnosis and treatment, we want to introduce Jack. He was so much more than just Jack the brain tumor patient.
Susan: My husband, Jack Richard Mobley, Jr., was the epitome of a good southern man. It is my privilege to have been Jack’s wife for 31 years. From our beginning, I knew that this intelligent and creative man was unique. Jack serenaded me with his guitar, impressed me with his business acumen, love of family, friends and golf, and took us on a wild ride of good times. Honestly, who do you know who would bolt a computer desk chair to a riding lawn mower, attach a beverage holder and actually enjoy mowing the lawn? Ours was a sweet and “crazy love”. Jack was a giant in my eyes; a loving father, and a kind, generous man who helped anyone in need. Jack was also my hero, my love, and my best friend.
When he was diagnosed with a Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor on October 2nd 2006, our lives changed in the blink of an eye. How Jack was diagnosed, his treatment journey, and 15 month survival is a story that should be told. It bonds our children, Jasan and Ashley, and I to each other and to Jack in a way that few can ever understand.
First, it is important to us to thank our Brain Tumor Center support system at Duke who allowed Jack to retain his dignity, and treated him with respect. I will always be grateful to Dr. John Sampson, Jack’s brilliant, talented Neurosurgeon, who is also a thoughtful and genuinely caring man; Denise Lally-Goss PA, our first Clinic touchstone who repeatedly pointed us in the right direction for treatment; Elaine Martell RN, the most patient, thorough, helpful, kind and informative nurse I have ever known; Dr. Annick Desjardins, a gifted diagnostician who always knew what to do to make Jack feel better for a while, (I think Jack had a crush on her! ); Dr. Vredenburgh; Stevie Threatt, Jack’s Clinical Trial Coordinator; and of course the pioneering Friedmans. The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center was a life line for us for 15 months!
Jasan: It’s hard to put into words what losing my father has been like. My dad was everything a father should be, and everything I aspire to be when I become a father. It may sound cliché, but he was not only my father, he was my best friend. There’s nobody on this planet I would rather play a round of golf with, and I think about him and miss him every single time I play. He taught me so much about life, and most importantly, how to enjoy life. He was one of those rare people who seemed to touch everyone’s life that he came in contact with in a positive way, and I’m not just saying that because he was my dad. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his family, and in turn, there was nothing we wouldn’t do for him. It’s still very hard for me to talk about him in the past tense, as his entire illness was just so surreal.
Ashley: My dad is my hero. I am his “Monkey” and his little girl. I always will be. The man I knew before that fateful October day was everything to me. The man he was after that October day was the bravest man I have ever known and will ever know. He fought so hard against a disease that robbed him of everything he once was. I am so proud that he was my dad.
Losing him was like losing a piece of me—an important piece of who I am. He protected me, shielded me, and guided me through life. He knew just what to say when I was sad to make me smile again. I learned a lot from him while he was sick- especially about how to love and how to care for others.
Diagnosis and Treatment:
Jack worked for The Paradies Shops, one of the country’s largest airport retailers. For several years he commuted between the company’s corporate office in Atlanta, GA and our home in Raleigh, NC. He flew across the country to California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona—the West Coast—on business trips for the company.
Jack thrived on challenges and met them with his jack-o-lantern smile. In October, 2006, he began facing the biggest challenge of his life. While on a business trip to the West Coast, Jack began to feel ill, but he couldn’t tell us what was wrong, or exactly how he felt. Now, looking back, those of us who knew him realize that some things were off. (He probably had at least one and possibly two seizures on that trip, but we didn’t know.) We can see this now, but at the time we chalked it up to how hard he was working. After being home in Raleigh for the weekend, he insisted on flying back to Atlanta to attend a Monday business meeting. It is a miracle that he even got to the office that day. In fact, we honestly don’t know how he did any of what he did so well, for so long, considering what was (unbeknownst to him) going on inside his brain.
Susan: I didn’t want him to leave town that Sunday night, and tossed and turned with what I now know was a sense of foreboding. I called to check on him and immediately knew something was very, very wrong. He could barely say hello and answered my questions with slow one-word-at-a-time responses. It seemed to take him minutes to get out a single word. I was able to get a good friend and co-worker at his office to check on Jack. Something was very, very wrong.
By the time Jack’s friend got to his office, Jack could not even tell him his name. An ambulance rushed Jack to an Atlanta hospital, and I boarded the first flight out of Raleigh. At the hospital, Jack had a CT scan. Within minutes we were told that Jack had what they called a “butterfly tumor” on both frontal lobes. I was foolish enough to think he could have surgery, and be ok.
Jasan: When my mother called me at 8 on a Monday morning, I just knew that something wasn’t quite right. Little did I know, my whole world was about to change. I immediately got into my car and drove to Atlanta to be with him and will never forget hearing those horrible words when I arrived at the hospital there, brain tumor. The next 15 months of my life were a whirlwind. Through the thousands of miles I drove, the doctor visits, my wedding (he was the best man), the hospital stays, the laughs, the long nights and all of the sadness, I gained an even greater respect for the man I thought I couldn’t respect any more than I already did. Not once did he complain about anything that he was going through and not once did he give up. It seems so cruel to me that his entire personality was taken from him in an instant, but he developed a new character in his illness that was just as memorable. I know for a fact that I will continue to look upon him for strength for the rest of my life.
Through all of the diagnoses, the treatments and the heartache, I know that as a family, we never could have gotten through his illness without the caring people at Duke University, especially those at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.
Ashley: Jasan called me while my mom was in route to Atlanta. The terrible feeling in the pit of my stomach told me something was very wrong. My brother told me to stay parked and not to drive anywhere. He told me what had happened to my dad, and we decided that I would get on a plane to Atlanta.
My mother insisted that Dad be referred to Duke University Medical Center back in North Carolina, where within days Dr. John Sampson performed the brain tumor biopsy. Dad was diagnosed with a Grade IV Malignant Glioblastoma Multiforme.
Within two weeks, Dad began aggressive chemotherapy and later, radiation. I spent the next 6 months as my dad’s primary caregiver- taking him to and from his treatments so that my mother could continue to work.
Susan, Jasan and Ashley: With the help of Jack’s doctors at Duke, the support of the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center, and our family’s faith in God, we spent those 15 months helping Jack fight. When Jack passed away on January 7th, 2008, he left a hole in our hearts that will never heal. But we know that he survived longer than many others with the same condition. We are proud of Jack for fighting so hard, proud of ourselves for working together as a family to support him, and grateful to God for allowing us to have him for as long as we did.