Jack Wade, January 21, 2004
Moss Point is located in the southeastern tip of Mississippi along the
Pascagoula River Basin. The Pascagoula River is the continental United
States' only large unspoiled river system. The 20,000 residents of
Moss Point have long realized the importance of keeping the eco-system
alive and thriving. It is a bird watching mecca, a fisherman's paradise
and a haven for those that cherish the calming effect of the open waters.
Recently, the Moss Point residents fought to keep coal barges from rounding
the Escatawpa River to the Pascagoula River at Moss Point, blocking an
offshore oil sludge transfer station from locating downtown and successfully
killing a proposal to burn medical waste at the local incinerator.
The city banned the construction of new cell phone towers when a 2001 report
showed a detrimental effect on migratory birds. The year before, the council
took similar action on new billboards. All of these efforts began to solidify
the town's idea of itself as a natural wonderland.
The Moss Point annual Fall-De-Rah festival takes place on the riverfront
in downtown Moss Point. It features natural products common to the South.
The Fall-De-Rah began in Moss Point but is now mirrored in several neighboring
towns. One can easily see the pride and love the residents of Moss Point
have in keeping their town free from pollutants and preserving their traditions
One of the picture frames Jack created from drift wood
Jack Wade was born and raised in Mississippi. He is a 75 year-old retired
tilesetter. He lives in Moss Point and proudly states that he has always
been a "small town fella". His home lies on the shores of Beardslee
Lake, an offshoot of the Pascagoula River. A short walk out Jack's
back door takes you to his boat house. The boat house is complete with
two boat lifts, a cleaning station, refrigerator and storage shed. He
has at least two dozen salt water and fresh water fishing rods with accompanying
gear. He fishes, crabs and shrimps from the boat house. In fact, several
crab traps hang just above the water's edge, ready to be baited. When
taking a break, Jack sits in the boathouse swing and watches the hundreds
of pelicans, ducks and other waterfowl swim on the inlet.
Today, there is only one boat hanging out of the water. Jack's center
console Beechcraft is his home-away-from-home. You see, to Jack, it doesn't
matter how many fish you catch or if you catch any. The reward and pleasure
is just being out on the water relaxing as the water laps up against the
hull. According to Jack, "I grew up around the water and spent as
much time as I could on the water. It is a place where my mind always
He spends as much of his free time on the golf course as on the water.
He hits the links with his buddies at least three times a week. He routinely
shoots in the low 80s. Jack looks very fit for a man his age and moves
with the grace of a former elite athlete. He has always watched his diet
and exercised regularly.
In October of 2003, Jack underwent a routine physical. His doctor is also
one of his closest friends. Less than a year ago, they spent three days
fishing for largemouth bass at Lake El Salto in Mexico, one of the world's
premier bass fishing lakes. In true fisherman fashion, Jack brags that
they pulled in "hundreds" of large mouth bass over three days.
Jack Wade with two of his grandsons (on the left) and his son Dale (2nd
from the right) and Steve (far right)
As part of the physical, his doctor ordered a CT scan instead of the usual
chest film. The scan revealed a shadow on Jack's right lung. Jack's
doctor, himself a lung cancer survivor, quickly referred him to a local surgeon.
On October 7, Jack was admitted to Singing River Hospital and underwent
a tissue biopsy. The surgeon made two incisions, one in his upper right
chest area and the second midway down his back. A chest tube was also inserted.
Several tissue specimens and one of Jack's ribs were removed. The tissue
specimens were examined by a pathologist at Singing River who diagnosed
biphasic malignant mesothelioma. The specimens were then sent to the pathology
department at the University of Arkansas. Using immunohistochemical staining,
the University of Arkansas confirmed the diagnosis. Jack spent four days
in the hospital.
After his discharge, Jack discussed his treatment options with the surgeon.
The surgeon readily admitted the he was fascinated with Jack's diagnosis
but was not qualified to treat him. He then contacted several surgical
oncologists along the Gulf coast including doctors at the University of
Texas M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas. One of the M.D. Anderson
physicians recommended an extra-pleural pneumonectomy, which entailed
removing the lung and possibly part of the diaphragm followed by chemotherapy
and radiation treatments. The second M.D. Anderson physician wished to
treat Jack with radiation therapy, only. In all, Jack's surgeon spoke
to six physicians, after which he told Jack that he was not "comfortable"
with any of the experts he spoke to.
The last physician Jack's surgeon contacted was Dr. Harvey Pass at
the Karmanos Cancer Clinic in Detroit, Michigan. After reviewing Dr. Pass'
curriculum vitae and speaking to him personally, Jack's surgeon made
an appointment for Jack to meet with Dr. Pass on January 27.
Jack's surgeon has since moved his practice to Atlanta, but before
he did, he told Jack that he wanted to be kept abreast of his treatments.
He told Jack to call him if he ever needed anything.
On January 27, Jack met with Dr. Pass. After examining Jack and reviewing
his medical records Dr. Pass recommended Jack come back in 90 days for
another CT scan to determine if he qualified for a pleurectomy. In the
meantime, he told Jack to continue his daily activities and let him know
if there is any new discomfort or pain. Jack said he was "very, very
impressed with Dr. Pass, his knowledge and professionalism. He knew more
about me than I did!"
Jack Wade with proof "there's fish in this pond."
This was good news to Jack. Up to this point, he thought his days were
numbered and the end was near. He felt that because he regularly watched
his diet and exercised, his body was keeping the mesothelioma at bay.
So far, Jack's body
has kept the tumor at bay. His latest CT scan showed no significant growth.
Jack's wife of 52 years, Violet Wade, died at their home of a heart
attack on September 12, 2001. His two sons and their families live nearby.
His grandchildren visit often, looking forward to getting out on the water
with grandpa. His home is at the end of the street, nestled under a giant
oak tree with a trunk roughly eight feet in diameter. His backyard is
well-groomed, with a large deck that has two fire pits. It is clear that
this home is a favorite for entertaining.
Jack tries to keep himself busy and his mind off his illness. He has taken
driftwood which washed ashore and made frames for photographs of his wife,
sons and grandchildren, and prints and paintings of the ocean. He contemplates
these pictures which cover his walls, and then returns, as always, to
the water: "I have always loved the water, looking at the water,
swimming, and just sitting out there."
In Greek mythology, there was a giant wrestler called Antaeus who was invincible
as long as he remained in contact with his mother, the Earth. As Jack
Wade wrestles with mesothelioma, he keeps his feet firmly planted in Moss
Point and its life-giving waters. We will continue to chart the course
of this Mississippi waterman's search for continued life, health and
*** POSTED MAY 3, 2004 ***
An Update -- 11/16/06
On October 22, 2006 Jack accompanied by his son Steven returned to New
York to see Dr. Harvey Pass at NYU School of Medicine and Comprehensive
Cancer Center after a CT scan revealed a possible growth between his lung
and wall of his back on the right side. Jack underwent surgery on October
25. Entering through the previous incision site, Dr. Pass removed all
of the tumor and thoroughly examined Jack's thoracic cavity for signs
of further disease. According to Jack, Dr. Pass said he is "clean".
Jack is not scheduled to receive any chemotherapy or radiation. He is to
follow up with CT scans every three months with his local physician. Jack
stated that he had a wonderful time in NYU - they treated him like royalty
for the 6 days that he spent in the hospital. Jack returned home on November
3. He states that he feels good, really good as long as he doesn't
think about what the future might have in store for him.
*** Mr. Jack Wade passed away on May 2, 2009 ***