Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Senior with terminal illness still plays softball

THE VILLAGES — When John Brake heard the unwelcome news from his doctor in April, he had a life-altering decision to make.

Brake had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and doctors had given him just six months to a year to live.

So Brake faced a choice: Did he want to spend his time moping, watching TV and being angry at the world, or did he want to fight back and reclaim what little time he had left?

He chose to make the best of his situation and get back to doing what he loves — playing softball. Seven months after the diagnosis, Brake still is playing in The Villages Men's Recreation League.

It's a fight that has left his peers in awe.

"Knowing that he doesn't have much time left and he's playing, well, we all love him," softball teammate Jack Skelly said. "It's one of those feel-good stories."

Of course, it hasn't always been a feel-good story.

After the diagnosis and a few rounds of chemotherapy, Brake had lost a lot of weight and wasn't feeling like himself.

The chemotherapy had hit Brake hard — so hard that he calls it the worst month of his life.

Brake was alive, but he wasn't living. He couldn't do any physical activity — no softball, no golf, he barely could walk.

"I was looking bad, looking like I was a dead man," Brake said.

Upset at his failing condition and ineffective treatments, he decided to discontinue chemotherapy and see what would happen.

"I knew it wasn't going to cure anything," he said. "They said it might give me a little better quality of life, which it didn't. So I just said, 'That's it; it is going to go whatever way it goes.'" The way it went was up. Brake was determined to sink or swim on his own. He had no idea it would turn out to be one of the best decisions he ever made.

Brake started eating more, getting back up to his normal weight. He felt much better. He started getting out of the house more, even finding the strength to play a little golf.

He continued to get out, get back in shape and put back on the weight he had lost during chemotherapy treatments.

Brake knows he is fortunate to still be playing softball, and he doesn't plan on wasting any of the moments he has left.

"I figured I would be dead by now, frankly," he said. "So why not ride it as long as you can?"

Senior with terminal illness still plays softball 11/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 9:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River

    Military

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  2. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]
  3. Sunstar ambulance unit overturns at Drew Street intersection in Clearwater, prompts road closures

    Accidents

    The intersection of Drew Street and Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater is closed following a crash that involved a Sunstar ambulance unit, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

    A Sunstar unit flipped in the intersection of Drew Street and Ford Harrison Avenue in Clearwater Monday morning after a car reportedly ran a red light and struck the ambulance, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
  4. Merkel spokesman: Germany still seeking stronger U.S. ties

    Nation

    BERLIN — Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. "speaks for itself," her spokesman said Monday

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during an election campaign of her Christian Democratic Union, CDU, and the Christian Social Union, CSU, in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday. Merkel is urging European Union nations to stick together in the face of new uncertainty over the United States and other challenges. [Matthias Balk/dpa via AP]
  5. Tampa police: 46 arrests, 47 ejections at two-day Sunset Music Festival

    Public Safety

    Times staff

    TAMPA — In a preliminary tally Monday morning, police declared there were "no major incidents" during the two-day Sunset Music Festival at Raymond James Stadium but boosted the number of arrests and rejections they provided in earlier reports during the weekend.

    A Tampa Fire Rescue all-terrain vehicle patrols the parking area north of Raymond James Stadum on Sunday, day two of the Sunset Music Festival. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]