This week as the lakes glittered in the sun, and trees turned from gray to
green, somewhere in the universe Jerry Thompson got out his fishing pole.
If you were one of the tens of thousands of readers who loved Jerry via his
writing in the Tennessean, you know about his fishing - and his
spirit. The long-time columnist died in January 2000 after 12 years of
living with cancer. It was the inexhaustible spirit with which he had faced
disease (and the spirit with which he caught fish and picked poke sallet and
drank beer) that was, and is, his legacy.
To honor that legacy, the Jerry Thompson Spirit of Survivorship
Award was established by the Middle Tennessee Cancer Survivors day
committee, with Tennessean sponsorship.
It's time now to nominate individuals for this year's award to
recognize those who carry on Jerry's example of using a life-changing
experience with cancer for the good of cancer survivors and
Jerry did this through his newspaper column - a column that transcended
boundaries of media, political and social rivalries - where
he shared the intimate, painful, funny and undignified moments that the
disease brought to him and his family.
He also spoke out in other ways, when he was able, to groups who gathered
because they were dealing with cancer. Some had been diagnosed
with cancer; some had a family member or friend with a diagnosis; some had
lost someone close to them; some had fears that a family history would bring
the disease to them. Jerry talked to them all, made them laugh, made them
cry, he made them hopeful and made them determined.
There are many others in our community who were beside him then, or who have since taken on that cause. They are working to provide public awareness of cancer and related issues: early detection and screening; survivor and family support; and advocacy.
We commend them, and, in Jerry's memory, we urge you to honor their spirit of survivorship.
Jerry is gone, despite the fact that a decade ago he wrote in the
Tennessean "Now that I'm convinced I've been able to whip my cancer, I can afford the luxury of enjoying some other ailments I've been
neglecting." That other ailment, Jerry explained to his readers, was
"fishing fever," and he never got over it.
So, to Jerry, we say, "Good fishing!," and to you, we say, "Remember his