Jeff Jones, owner of Admiral Pest Control has been awarded the American Cancer Society’s 2013 Statewide Patient Courage Award, the company announced April 8. As part of Jones’ award, he will throw the first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers versus New York Giants game on May 9.
So, what makes this a unique celebratory announcement? Jones was diagnosed with soft tissue sarcoma in November 2006. He was treated with chemotherapy and radiation but, in order to prevent the spread of the cancer, his right arm and shoulder were amputated on May 9, 2013 – exactly one year before throwing the first pitch.
Jones is right-handed, and over the last year has had to learn how to do everything left and one-handed.
“Fighting cancer was the hardest thing I ever had to do. This is just throwing a ball,” he said of the upcoming event. “I’m just proud to say that by doing this, we are able to raise more than $4000 for the American Cancer Society. That’s $4000 that goes towards stopping cancer.”
Over the last year, Jones has had to adjust to some major changes, he said. “I had worked on writing left-handed and eating left-handed and tried to get into the groove of being one-handed, but it was so much harder than I thought,” he said in an interview just after surgery.
Getting dressed was no longer the simple task it had always been.
“It’s so much more work buttoning your shirt,” Jones said. “You can do a lot of things but it just takes you twice as long to do it.”
In preparation for the big pitch, Jeff has been practicing weekly with his son-in-law and his brother.
“The first thing I had to do was relearn how to do the foot work – everything was backwards,” he said. “I don’t have the balance of the other arm or the wind up, so it’s all arm. My left arm needed to build strength – it hadn’t thrown a ball in my entire life.” Although he been sore, “practice makes perfect,” he said.
“I am very honored to have been chosen for this award. I know that I went through a lot of treatments and ultimately lost my arm, but I felt like I did what anyone would do in that situation. You have to take it one day at a time and not focus on the long term treatments. That keeps it from being overwhelming.”
Next month’s event will not only kick off Admiral’s 7th consecutive year of fundraising for the American Cancer Society, but the company’s fundraising kickoff for the Relay for Life.
Because Jones’ unexpected journey with cancer gave him a greater appreciation for what cancer patients endure, in 2008, he formed Team Admiral to participate in the American Cancer Society’s Bellflower (California) Relay for Life – a global event that helps communities fundraise to fight cancer.
The first year Team Admiral raised $11,000. Since then, Jones and Admiral Pest Control have raised more than $130,000 in support of cancer research via the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Friends and employees of Admiral Pest will walk to raise funds for the Bellflower Relay for Life on June 28. The company hopes to raise more than $35,000 for this year’s relay.
“Participating in the Relay for Life is a way for us as a company to give back to the community,” Jones said. “Cancer touches just about every American. We are proud to be able to give back in this way.”