Laguna Beach accountant Jeffrey Ross was a fit 54 when a sudden pain in his abdomen caused him to pass out and sent him down a course of medical investigation that led to a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, a 12-hour surgery, and a grim prognosis that he would have six to nine months to live. That was eight years ago.
Fighting the cancer would lead Ross into a new life of advocacy with a new wife by his side — Sally Sanders, a critical care nurse who proposed to him on the beach after his diagnosis.
I met Ross when he wrote me after my two columns were published about my own battle with pancreatic cancer. I admit it was an emotional moment when I read his first email, offering support and guidance through this difficult journey.
I was just coming to terms with this life-changing disease — finally feeling better after a lengthy surgery, two hospitalizations and enjoying the intermittent feeling of being well enough to do "normal" things like go to work, plant a garden and cook a meal. But I still suffered from deep bouts of despair that would suddenly hit when I least expected it, usually while enjoying those very activities that I used to take for granted.