October 16, 1958 — May 4, 2007
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away. Author – Anonymous
Jurgen lived by these words more than anybody I’ve ever known. He was extremely passionate about everything and everybody in his life. He put his heart and soul into all that he set out to do. Jurgen was not a big talker but rather a great listener. Throughout his career as a petroleum engineer, he was devoted to his employer, Transocean. Sailing and flying gave him tremendous happiness but especially these activities served as a much needed distraction while he was fighting for his life. He was admired and loved by all who were fortunate enough to have known him. He is missed so much not only by me, his wife, but especially his two sons, Sven and Erik as well as the rest of his family and friends.
Jurgen was first diagnosed with Melanoma in Scotland in 1999 where we were living on a temporary overseas assignment. He had quite fair skin but with numerous moles. One day I noticed an odd-looking mole on his lower back that didn’t look right to me. When I voiced my concern, he didn’t waste any time and went the next day to have it checked out. A biopsy was taken and he returned home that night saying “The doctor said I have Melanoma.” We knew this was not good news. Surgery was scheduled right away, and the mole was removed with a bad and good margin in hopes that the Melanoma was caught early. After he recovered, he was referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He became a patient there going every three months for a check up.
We were soon transferred back to the United States to live in Houston. In 2001, Jurgen decided that he wanted to train and participate in the Houston Marathon. Completing the marathon, he was in the best shape of his life at age 41 but a week later, he complained of a lump inside his leg. I told him to call his doctor at MD Anderson to determine if it was significant. After a fine needle biopsy, it was determined that the Melanoma had returned in his lymph node. Surgery was once again performed and all of the lymph nodes in his right groin were removed; this was followed up with four rounds of bio-chemotherapy. We hoped and prayed that Jurgen was cancer free, but two years later a tumor was found in his liver during his routine MRI’s and Cat Scans. At that time, the prognosis was grave; we were told that he might only have three months to live. Surgery was again scheduled to remove part of his liver and was followed up with various clinical trials that were somewhat promising at the moment. Two years later, tumors started showing up in several different places on his body. Surgery was not recommended this time due to how many tumors there were and their locations. He repeated another four rounds of bio-chemotherapy with the idea that if it didn’t work the first time, perhaps it might work the second time. We were wrong! Jurgen and I then spent many hours searching for the best treatment options with the help of his wonderful doctors at MD Anderson. He tried several different treatments but as soon as they proved ineffective, he moved on to another option. Everyone was inspired by his determination and courage to continue fighting for his life.
Jurgen was able to extend his life as long as possible to be with the ones who loved him so much. He told me to go forward now and live life fully. Jurgen’s wish was that a treatment or cure would be found for Melanoma so that others would not have to go through what he did. Through him, we have learned so much about how life is measured and the moments that take our breath away!
With all my heart,