By Linda Taylor
Born on March 31, 1959 in San Jose California, John Taylor was a lover of life. His charismatic soul made him a person to love. He wore cowboy boots, always, even in the hot Arizona summers. He was a Chef, loved to eat and would soak for hours in the pool. He created his own man cave – for himself, his Harley and his friends “to hang out in.” Alone or with friends, he said riding his Harley was the best – having the wind on his face, the time for his thoughts and the freedom it gave. I met John in 1994 and we married on July 4, 1997 in Tombstone AZ. It was, as I always told John, the happiest day of my life.
John was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on April 17, 2008. There were no warning signs. You wake up one morning and you find a lump or your eyes are yellow and you don’t know what is going on. When John first went to the doctor they thought he had hepatitis. They ran some more tests and did a CT scan, and found pancreatic cancer. I’ll never forget that day. We were sitting on the couch and John took the call from our doctor. He knew when he took the call that it was not a good thing. That is strength.
That is how John continued to deal with the next 29 months—with strength, hope, perseverance and always a positive outlook. He ruled his disease up until the afternoon it won. He always kept his quality of life. John was an inspiration to anyone who was with him through his fight. Pancreatic cancer took John’s life on September 19, 2010, but not before going out the night before and enjoying a wonderful Italian dinner with our dear friends.
In John’s memory, I organized a Poker Ride to raise awareness and money for pancreatic cancer research. We had a beautiful day in Arizona! More than sixty people participated – all so patient and willing to help. It was so special to see people that loved John come together and smile again—not because of the loss, but because of who he was. He always made people laugh, and at our event, even though it was hard not to have John physically with us, everyone was smiling and having a great time.
We had several people participate who didn’t even know John. One that touched my heart the most was an older couple. She was diagnosed 13 months previously with pancreatic cancer. The day before our event he told me she wasn’t having a good day, but she knew there was an event to support research that she didn’t want to miss. She told her husband they were going to participate and even though I could tell she wasn’t well, she showed up wearing all purple and had a smile on her face. You could see it was something she needed to do. I gave her a hug and a “Pancreatic Cancer Sucks Button.” After they left to get on their bike I had to take a break. That was strength!
We had a few other riders show up that we didn’t know, but they just wanted to ride because pancreatic cancer had touched their lives one way or another. They thanked us and told me an event like this was a first. The John V. Taylor Ride raised $3600.25 (I believe the $0.25 was from my grandson) for the Hirshberg Foundation.
I wanted to end this story with a note we received after our event and the lesson I learned from putting this together:
“To All: Yesterday when I woke I did not know John, but after attending your benefit and talking with some of John’s friends, I wish I had. Your benefit has opened my eyes to the cause and it will be in my heart from this day forward. I want to thank you all for allowing me to be present and hope to be more involved with each passing year. Again, my thanks!!!!!”
What I learned overall was this: We started a message. Besides raising money, we opened people’s eyes to pancreatic cancer and the need to put it in the spotlight. I have a small understanding of what the Hirshberg Foundation started and feel blessed that our event can be a part of the fight.
John, you are the love of my life, my forever soul mate. I miss you every second of every minute, of every hour of every day. Thank you for giving me the best time of my life.