January 14, 1967 -- January 18, 2008
FARM LIFE—Jeff Corey was the perfect example of a person from Farm Life. He was a plain, simple farmer by trade and loved everything about life. He enjoyed eating, cooking, fishing, hunting, camping, growing things in his garden, his friends, his family, and his church. Jeff never met a stranger and everyone who had any dealings with him, loved him. He kept everyone laughing and had a pet name for many of his family members and friends.
Jeff was a 31-year-old man, married to Janet Wobbleton for four years, with a 2-year-old son, Luke, when life as he knew it changed forever. He began having headaches in April of 1998. The headaches were relieved with Tylenol, so none of us thought much of them. Jeff continued to work, play, and enjoy life until he began throwing up one night in June. He would soon learn that he had a brain tumor and needed immediate surgery to remove the bulk of the tumor and relieve the pressure on his brain.
The night before the surgery, there were dozens of friends and well-wishers stopping by to check on Jeff and his family. Jeff was an outdoor person, so they gathered in a circle on the lawn. Before long, there were so many people that Jeff announced, "If I had known ya'll were coming, I'd have cooked a pig!"
The surgery was performed on June 17, 1998 and took a little less than five hours. Surrounded by a room full of family, friends, and church members, we waited for the surgeon to bring us news of Jeff's condition. The surgery went well, most of the tumor was removed, and Jeff was headed to the neurosurgical intensive care unit. When we were allowed to visit him, the first thing he wanted to know was, "When can I eat?" The surgeon made his rounds and came to check on Jeff. He told the surgeon, "Well, you didn't kill me, so maybe I'll be okay."
Jeff was home from the hospital in three days and went on about his life as usual after six weeks of radiation therapy. We learned from the pathology report that the tumor was a grade II oligodendroglioma. Only 2 percent of primary brain tumors (those that originate in the brain) are this type. The doctors kept a close check on the tumor with regular MRIs.
Jeff continued to farm for a living raising tobacco, corn, cotton and peanuts. He also added a daughter, Hope, to his family in March of 2000. Jeff could not have been happier. He was healthy and enjoyed every aspect of life to the fullest.
In August of 2003, a routine MRI showed a change in the tumor. Doctors decided a cyst had formed and it needed to be removed. Surgery was scheduled, done and Jeff was on his way home on Labor Day weekend. Pathology showed that the tumor was still the same type, and doctors recommended an oral chemotherapy regimen for one year.
Like many kinds of chemo, Jeff's drug caused fatigue. He was never sick and continued to work at farming, even if he had to take several rest breaks during the day. He never complained, and if anyone asked him, he always said he was doing fine. Jeff did not sit back and pity himself. He continued on with his life with as much enthusiasm as ever. He would always say, "If something happens to me tomorrow, I've had a big time and I'll be okay."
A July 2007 MRI brought the news that a spot on the opposite side of Jeff's brain was looking suspicious. Doctors ordered a biopsy (which is pretty much like surgery, when it involves your brain). The pathology report this time was not as positive as we had hoped. The tumor had mutated to a grade III oligo/astrocytoma.
Since the higher grade meant a more aggressive growing tumor, more chemotherapy was needed. Surgery and radiation were not options, due to the "delicate" area the tumor was located in. Jeff began the treatments, took the fatigue in stride, and continued to work to support his family. The drugs successfully stopped the tumor for two months. By the 3rd month, the tumor was growing again.
We began hearing from friends in the community that something had changed with Jeff. The Griffins Volunteer Fire Department supper on Nov. 2 marked the beginning of his tumor-related symptoms. Doctors prescribed steroids to control the brain edema that was developing. Jeff never complained that anything was bothering him or complained that he was in any kind of pain. The cotton harvest had begun and Jeff was busy running the cotton combine. He picked cotton on the day of his doctor's appointment to begin the next round of drugs.
In November, a more aggressive form of chemo was recommended. This time, a three-drug combination was started. Jeff did not complain when we asked him not to drive any more until we knew how these drugs would affect him. His friends kept him busy and would pick him up and take him places because they knew he did not want to stay inside if he could help it.
On Dec. 2, Jeff suffered a grand mal seizure and was taken to the emergency room. In mid-December, we learned that the three-drug combo was not working. There was another option Jeff could try and he was anxious to get it started. Two IV drugs were given to him on Dec. 13, that would hopefully stop the growth of the tumor.
Then, Jeff began running a fever and was short of breath on Dec. 17. He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia and an ear infection. His immune system was so wiped out the doctor told us he didn't think Jeff would survive the infections. Jeff made it through that night (thanks to prayer and an awesome God) and his immune system had improved slightly the next morning. After two days in intensive care unit, he was moved to a room where he stayed for another five days. On Christmas Eve, we brought Jeff home to spend Christmas with his family.
The doctor told us we were in the end stages of the tumor, and hospice was called in. Christmas week and the week after, Jeff grew stronger each day until we finally called the doctors to ask if anything else could be done. Doctors offered another treatment, which Jeff decided bravely to try. Jeff celebrated his 41st birthday with his family on Jan. 14.
Jeff had another seizure and his heart rate dropped on Jan. 16. He was taken to the emergency room and admitted to the hospital. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on Friday, Jan. 18.
Jeff was never sick, never complained, and never took any prescribed pain medicine during the nine-and-a-half years he battled his brain tumor. He lived his life with simplicity, class and style and he departed this earth the same way. He will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Submitted by Ellen Nicholson, Jeff's sister