The Finish Line

JScottCaubleCall me the North American Food Traveler.  From the bistros of Canada, to the oyster bars of New Orleans, to the secluded barrios of Mexico City, I’ve gobbled up (at least once) everything life has plated up for me.  My dad had zero tolerance for picky eaters, an attribute that served me well the day boiled chicken feet were my dinner line-up in Mexico City.  I pride myself in being a professional eater, but somewhere I missed the memo on how to get a clump of food to my mouth on two cheap sticks.

Fear of chopsticks was looming in my mind when I agreed to met Jeff Cauble for Sushi at Omaha’s trendy Baby Blue (Sunday, March 31, 2010) in memory of my daughter’s death two years prior from adrenal cortical carcinoma.  I was so very grateful for those that reached down into my sad little world and pulled me up into new experiences.  But I was nervous.  Nervous about my ineptness in handling chopsticks.  Nervous because I had become socially isolated in the time surrounding Megan’s death and going to Baby Blue was thrusting me into the bustling heart of hipster Omaha.

But there was Jeff Cauble; a man who knew my life had been shredded.  He said all the right things as he navigated me through Chopsticks 101. “These should be easy for you, Val, since you have had a lifetime of handling art pens”, and “You can do it, Val!”   There was no Olympic crowd roaring in the background, but I felt so proud of myself when food went from the plate to my mouth with minimal rice spilling down my shirt.

Sweet Jesus…a handsome guy can get a girl to do anything.

But my relationship to Jeff Cauble was that he was Megan Bosselman’s personal trainer.  My girl hired him, trusted him, depended on him.  And he delivered.

In 2000, Megan had become increasingly concerned about her weight, and a host of physicians had told her to just ‘work harder.’  My girl had tried a long line of diet regimes, to no avail, and she proposed the idea of hiring a personal trainer.  I had her interview several professionals, and she narrowed it down to Jeff.  He was a star athlete and it didn’t hurt that he was (and is) wicked handsome.

Towering somewhere over 6’3″, Jeff embodies everything stunning in a Norwegian blonde.  Mix that in with part American-Indian and a mom who is an All-American Beauty (Miss Nebraska 1968).   With his million dollar smile and suavecito demeanor, my girl never imagined that he would actually make her sweat.  Jeff Cauble was born running, and it came as no surprise that running was going to be the biggest part of Megan’s weight loss protocol.

Megan said “I won’t.”  Jeff said, “You will be.”

model09(1)Raw good looks can be so deceiving.  It wasn’t long before Megan came home from the gym hating him.  Nevertheless, somehow he got her moving, and run she did.  Jeff’s influence yielded instant results and confidence in Megan.  She began to hold her head higher, walk more confidently, and see life more optimistically.

Little did any of us know that by 2004 Megan would be running for her life in the battle against adrenal cancer.  Because of Jeff’s influence, she ran with elegant grace up until the removal of the tumor and her adrenal gland.  When doctors were saying ‘she may never leave the hospital’ my girl was laying in ICU asking, “So when can I run again?”  She ran again, against all odds, into 10 months of glorious remission, where she felt the most alive and beautiful of her entire life.  The last time she laced up her running shoes was just hours before the removal of her left kidney in 2006;  my girl knew her running days were over.

Who could have known that learning to run at age 19 would be the very thing that helped sustain Megan’s life?  She needed that strong heart to endure months of chemo and radiation…quantities of both that were far beyond normal to the human experience.  Never underestimate how one solitary life can change your world.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Jeff Cauble.  My girl’s heart ran strong to the finish line because of you.

Key Notes:

  • James F. Fixx, who spurred the jogging craze with his best-selling books about running and preached the gospel that active people live longer, died of a heart attack while on a solitary jog in Vermont. He was 52 years old. Many people use this as a reason to not stay in shape.  “Hey, the author of the jogging book died of a heart attack…what good did it do him?”  Megan did not support that philosophy.   I’m so grateful my girl sowed good health…an attribute that gave her far more life than predicted.
  • When Megan had her left kidney removed, the radiologist told me that the ‘X” factor that physician looked at was Megan’s extraordinary level of physical fitness.  In her survival prognosis, it did matter that she didn’t drink or smoke, refrained from sugar, and ran five miles a day.
  • Jeff is a world-class athlete that jumped to a State Record of 23′ 11″ in 1989.  He remained in the Nebraska top ten for that event for 20 years.  If you want to excel in any area of life, look for a professional that has already achieved your goal.
  • You, the reader, are an expert in some area of life.  Make a point to share that gift in this calendar year.  It will give life to another human being…and who knows…it could save their life down the road.
  • Adrenal Cancer is rare and elusive.  Most doctors don’t see it in the lifetime of their practice.  If you think something is medically wrong with you, do seek professionals until you figure it out.

On A Lighter Note:

  • I’ve made no progress in my Chopstick skills.
  • I laugh every time I think of Megan telling Jeff “I’m not running” and Jeff saying “You will be…” like Yoda in Star Wars.
  • I can find J. Scott Cauble whenever I want.  You can find him today on Facebook.
  • When my friends ask me where we should go out to eat, my response is always, “I don’t care.  Does this look like the body of a picky eater?”

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All photography by Brandi Lynn Images.

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Article by: Valerie Bourdain