Thrive by IU Health

October 03, 2021

Cancer interrupted campus ‘dad’s weekend’ for devoted father

IU Health Simon Cancer Center

Cancer interrupted campus ‘dad’s weekend’ for devoted father

He never missed an event – that’s how his daughter describes Jeff Newman’s devotion. That was until he was admitted to IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

It wasn’t the week he had planned. Jeff Newman was looking forward to spending the weekend in Bloomington with his daughter celebrating her sorority’s “dad’s weekend.”

Instead of hanging out on the Indiana University campus with her Alpha Chi Omega sisters, Paige Newman, 19, was keeping her dad company at IU Health Simon Cancer Center.

“He loves being a dad and will always be a dad first,” said Paige. But recently, Jeff Newman, 56, had to pause.

A 1987 graduate of Purdue University, Jeff met his wife, Shelly, when he moved to Bloomington. They married 26 years ago. They first moved their family, which includes a son Austin, to Cleveland, Ohio and then St. Charles, Ill. with Jeff’s job.

They recently moved back to Indiana. At first Jeff thought the bruises on his forearm were caused from moving boxes. But when his wife insisted he go to the doctor, he got a call within hours after the appointment telling him he needed blood transfusions

“I didn’t know how serious it was so I asked if it could wait because I was going to IU to see Paige for dad’s weekend,” said Jeff. “When we were growing up he never missed my brother’s lacrosse games or my cheerleading events,” said Paige. “That’s the kind of dad he was. He is also sarcastic and always has a dad joke,” she added. When Jeff traveled for work, a stuffed monkey or porcupine was always tucked in his luggage as a reminder of home.

Blood work showed Jeff has acute promyelocytic leukemia (APML), a unique subtype of myeloid leukemia, cancer of the white blood cells. At IU Health Simon Cancer Center he is in the care of Dr. Larry Cripe and is undergoing chemotherapy.

“I guess there’s a reason we’re back in Indiana, said Newman. Other than a headache, he said he has no side effects to his treatment. He knows there will be other “Dad’s Weekends” but it’s still hard for him to slow down. He enjoys his family time – boating, snow skiing, and traveling.

As he started his treatment, Newman sent a text and a gift to his wife and children –they each received a four-legged stool.

“I’ve always said ‘my family is a four-legged stool.’ We are all engaged in caring for each other,” said Newman. “My leg is a little wobbly right now. My wife is the anchor and we will get through this.”