He’s had a hell of a nasty medical history already, but has handled life very well.
Remarkably well, considering diabetes and two prior cancers. He and his longtime wife live in a nice North Dallas house, and he’s held an excellent local job for the past 28 or so years. Not easy, juggling serious illnesses and keeping up with work. But now, this combo has become virtually impossible.
He is Jeffrey Weiss. Maybe you’ve read him over those past almost three decades. He’s taken some necessary breaks, but always gotten back on the ever-bucking horse that carries career journalists outside of themselves to report on the facts, fantasies and foibles of others. Only now, he’s reporting on himself.
And maybe you’ve been reading his own installments on his own health “adventures” in the Dallas Morning News. They started last Sunday on the front page, with Jeff’s declaration that if he’s destined to flame out, he wants to do it with the maximum flash possible. This time, he has glioblastoma, a brain tumor that’s a virtual death sentence.
First, he noticed that his writing was becoming garbled; he knew what he wanted to say, but couldn’t get the words out right. He thought maybe he was just tired — with his medical history, who wouldn’t be? But rest didn’t help. And then came the trouble with one eye, the diagnosis, the question-mark-shaped cut that removed a chunk of his skull so surgeons could excavate the tumor. They got 95 percent of it, then replaced that piece of his head.
Jeff and his wife have no children. Marni is a nurse, which has probably been a very good thing in the past and is certainly more so now. She knows what’s happening, and what her part in it is and will be. She takes care of that, while Jeff worries about making sure he takes care of everything he’s put off for so long — and which of us hasn’t put off finalizing some necessary documents, writing down those “what if?” plans because we don’t know how to plan for things if we don’t know whether or not they will ever be real? Especially if we don’t want them to be real. … But for Jeff, everything is real now, and he knows what he has to do.
For someone in his situation, he’s in a good place. Years ago, when I did some heavy-duty freelancing for the DMN, I worked with an editor who developed an eventually fatal illness. I learned then that the paper would not leave such a person hung out to dry. I hope that’s still a policy as true now as it was then.
I know Jeff has company insurance, and enough discretionary funds that he and Marni plan to take a trip, soon, to Miami — his home town — then board a ship for a weeklong cruise, doing nothing at all but sailing and relaxing. They both need it. They both deserve it.
I have a hard time getting my head around the fact that Jeffrey Weiss was born the same year I graduated from college! How is it that some of us are granted long and at least relatively healthy lives, while some are plagued with serious problems early-on and faced with an untimely ultimate end?
When I posted Jeff, with some trepidation, to ask if he’d permit me to write about him here, he posted back virtually immediately: “Absolutely use me!”
But I’m really asking all of us to use ourselves. Will all the congregations in our area unite in putting Jeffrey Weiss’ name on their mishaberach lists? In the long run, his body will run its own course. But our prayer is for spirit as well as for body. He’s already way ahead of us on that; still, some extra help can’t hurt.
If you haven’t read Jeff’s take on himself in the paper-on-paper, just go to dallasmorningnews.com/jeffweiss for the whole story.