“It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” Epictetus
There are times we face an experience in life and are knocked to our knees in confusion, fear, and bewilderment. It is during those times that heroes are revealed and others fade into the unknown. Heroes are the people who step up and say “I will not let this defeat me.” “I will rise up and make a difference.” Jeff and Missy Skinner have let their experience make them heroes.
Jeffrey Skinner retired November 10, 2010, as a Master Sergeant. He served in the United States Army for 23 years. Jeff was stationed in Uzbekistan. It was during his time in Uzbekistan, his team was stationed over old uranium mines. Jeff and three other team members were later diagnosed with brain cancer. The following is Jeff’s story as recounted by his wife, Missy.
In March 2005, Jeff had a seizure while playing golf. When he was examined, we discovered he had his first tumor. It was stage II brain cancer. At that time the only treatment was an MRI and watch to see if it would ever come back. In May 2008, he had an MRI and there was nothing there. In October 2008, Jeff started to have really bad headaches. I took him to the hospital and that was when we found out about the next tumor. It was at this time Jeff was diagnosed with stage IV GBM (Glioblastoma). This is the most aggressive type of brain cancer. We were only given 48 weeks with him. The surgeon did surgery and removed 98% of the tumor. In December 2008, Jeff started radiation. On the second day of radiation, Jeff’s brain began to swell. The swelling of his brain caused Jeff to have a stroke. As a result of radiation, he has lost all of his vision in his right eye and has tunnel vision in his left eye. In addition, Jeff experiences short-term memory loss. Thankfully, his long-term memory is still in tact. In order to stop the swelling, he was treated with a bone flap craniotomy. The surgeon removed the bone flap from his cranium, so the brain would have room to expand and contract. In January 2009, Jeff started thirty rounds of radiation and one year of chemotherapy. Jeff finished the chemotherapy in February 2010. He still must have an MRI every three months to keep watch over that area of his brain. Just recently in January 2011, there was fluid found on his brain. As a result, the doctor inserted an omia. This gives the doctor the ability to draw fluid as needed. Otherwise, Jeff is in good health. Jeff has a winning attitude and keeps a good spirit despite all he has endured.
Jeff and Missy were so impacted by the level of care Jeff received. They decided to give back to the doctor and research that gave Missy, her husband and Megan, her dad back. In 2010, they created the Jeff Skinner Brain Cancer Warrior Golf Tournament. In 2010, they raised thirteen thousand dollars for brain cancer research. Their second event was held in 2011, and generated fifteen thousand dollars for research. This is the third year for the tournament. The goal this year is eighteen thousand dollars. It will take place at Cumberland Lake Country Club, Saturday, May 5, 2012. For more information, please contact Missy Skinner at firstname.lastname@example.org
It has now been four years since that terrifying day Missy was given the report that she had only 48 weeks left with her husband. Missy was told by Jeff’s doctor that there were only six couples who had ever made it past three years with the same diagnosis. What a testament to their strength and determination to never give up on life and be victorious. They truly have taken what life dealt them and reacted in a way that matters.
Jeff Skinner is a forty-two year old husband, father, brother and son. He has been married to Melinda Kennedy Skinner for twenty-two years. They have one daughter, Megan Skinner. Megan is nineteen years old, attending Wallace State community College. They reside in Morris, Alabama.