Surfer/Warrior Tribute

Apr 11, 2018

To the Editor:

The following is a beautiful tribute to my husband, James M. Carroll, written by his supportive care physician. He was a long-time resident of Beach Haven and had lived in Florida for the past six years. Jim passed away March 14 in Florida.

I think this is a testimony to a wonderful man and a person dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. He was truly a warrior. 

Pam Carroll

Melbourne Beach, Fla.

I will never forget the framed photo sitting on the bedside table in Jim Carroll’s hospital room. It was of the great surfer himself – Mr. Carroll.

I met Mr. Carroll and his wonderfully supportive and always glowing wife, Mrs. Pam Carroll, at MD Anderson Cancer Center four years ago. He became my patient because he was undergoing rehabilitation after receiving a stem cell transplantation. The subsequent chemotherapy treatments cured his cancer. However, the side effects and complications were devastating to his system. He had profound muscle loss, fatigue, poor appetite, and developed a foot drop that limited his ability to walk. Despite the blow to his body image and ego, Mr. Carroll persevered. He was determined to regain his strength, so that he could return home to Florida with his wife.

I truly believe that Mr. Carroll’s lifelong commitment to surfing and healthy life choices, including exercise and good nutrition, contributed to his remarkable recovery. Mr. Carroll rehabilitated himself. He developed a program at home to strengthen his weak muscles; he practiced yoga to improve his flexibility; and he swam, walked and cycled to rebuild his endurance.

At a clinic visit with me approximately one year later, I looked at him in amazement and with admiration. He was paddling on his board in his swimming pool. Who does that? Only a dedicated 70-year-old surfer.

In addition to the daily exercise regimen, he was back tinkering about in his woodwork shop again. He doted over his wife. He watched her with a cautious eye to make sure she was taking care of her own health in the midst of all of his followup cancer treatments.

One day, he came to my clinic and proudly announced that he was back on his board again – in the ocean! The 72-year-old surfer was back. I was beyond happy for him. As a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, I do not see many people recover like Mr. Carroll did.

This is why it saddened me when he developed his second cancer.

Mr. Carroll was a smart, courageous, sweet and devoted husband, father, brother, son and friend.

I will miss him and I will forever be inspired by his story.

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