Southside 'Till I Die

I was born and raised in the projects; the Jefferson Terrace in Saratoga Springs, NY. The friends I made there have been life long. So long, I don't even remember how we all first met each other. My friends are: Zack, 38; Kyle, 37; Skip, 37; Rick, 37; Joey Eveland, 37; Londell 38; and Jerelle, 39. There are more than that, but those are the some of the characters in the movie I wrote called Southside 'Till I Die, based on our lives growing up, and Jerelle's battle with cancer.

A tad over four years ago (Thanksgiving Day 2009) Jerelle was diagnosed with cancer. We were all devastated to say the least. After a full year of treatment, the cancer spread to stage 4 and the doctor's were not hopeful. Jerelle has always been a fighter, and somehow persevered in times of little hope. We knew he was going to be fine. The doctor's have this treatment, which replaces every stem cell in the human body. Jerelle's whole body was flushed and the blanks were implanted. You see, a blank stem cell regenerates into whatever type of cell you place it near. If you put a blank in the liver, it becomes a liver cell; if you put a blank in the bone marrow, it becomes a blood cell. So he received all new cells, cancer free cells. I'm not a doctor, but the way Jerelle explained to it me, this was the gist.

A few months passed and the news was in; Jerelle was cancer free. We all were not surprised. I was so elated, and I happened to be enrolled in film school at one of the top five film schools in the country, Full Sail University, so I wrote and directed a short film about Jerelle's battle called, Southside 'Till I Die.

A few months after the production, Jerelle was diagnosed with cancer again. It was a huge blow to everyone to say the least. But no big deal, he beat cancer before, so he'll beat it again. Right? He did the same intensive treatment. A few months went by and the news was in, he did it again! He was cancer free. After a month or so, he got sick again, but not cancer.

He was hospitalized a while ago. He had a very bad viral infection in his GI track. Doctor's put him on a ventilator and everyone hoped for the best. A huge Facebook effort was initiated for everyone to change his or her profile pictures to the Superman symbol. Jerelle loved Superman; he even named one of his sons Kal-el, Superman's real name. To us, during this heroic fight, Jerelle actually proved over and over that he was Superman.

Over 1000 people changed their profile pictures to the Superman symbol as to generate positive energy for Jerelle. It seemed to be working. After a while in an induced coma, he was brought back. He could breath on his own, and he sat up. But since he was very weak, and the virus was not killed yet, they put him back under and another surgery had to be done. They were just testing to see if he was able to breath on his own.

Last Monday, three days before Thanksgiving 2013 he went under the knife again. Doctor's were not optimistic he would make it through the surgery, but if he did and his lungs got strong enough to breath on their own, he was going to make it.

Jerelle survived the surgery. Of course he did. We all knew he would. The doctors wanted to keep him on the ventilator and pump him up with some super Barry Bond's steroids to strengthen his body before he was scheduled to come off the ventilator today, Monday December 2, 2013.

Zack and I went to the Carolina Panther's football game yesterday. It was great. We had some beers, some dogs, and some more beers. Cam Newton just ran for 60 yards to set up a touchdown on the next play. Zack's phone buzzed. Rick was calling. Jerelle's lungs had collapsed, and the ventilator couldn't keep him breathing. Jerelle passed away on Sunday December 1, 2013.

After all the fighting over the past four years, and all the victories, he passed peacefully. Someone or some thing must have wanted him pretty bad because they kept trying to take him away from this world. After he beat one disease, he got another, and after he kicked that one's butt, he got sick again. He must be needed pretty bad somewhere else. As much as it saddens me, I understand; after all, Jerelle is Superman.

--Joey G

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