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Positive outlook helps colon cancer survivor focus on making the most of his new lease on life

By Maridith Yahl
NKyTribune reporter

“I want to be a victor, not a victim,” declares Jacob Paff, a colon cancer survivor. His genuinely nice and even-tempered personality undoubtedly helped him in the fight of his life and continues to help him succeed in his career.

Five months after the birth of his son Elijah, Jacob received his diagnosis. He didn’t know it at the time, but he has a gene that makes him predisposed to having polyps in his large intestines. In fact, Jacob had hundreds of them and was considered stage 3.

Jacob with Elijah and wife Angela (Photo provided)

Despite this, his positive attitude was in full motion, “There was no quit in me,” he states. After almost a year fight, including two surgeries, radiation and two rounds of chemo, Jacob says, “I am healed to my new normal. I am not the same person that I was before, but everything is good.”

Jacob says, “There was no choice in my head. I was going to be there for my family and this is what I had to do to be there for them. I took it one day at a time, one foot in front of the other.” He relied on, “God, my wife, son, family, and friends were what helped get me through. I also never would have made it without God working through my doctors.”

The hardest part for Jacob was not being able to pick up his son after surgery. “Angela and my family would place him in my lap to sit and hold, but when he would come to me and want to be picked up I couldn’t just grab him and walk around like a normal dad. That was rough,” he remembers.

He has three older brothers and after his diagnosis, they were all checked. “One looks like he has the same thing, he has polyps. By having it, I made them aware of it. That might have saved him in a roundabout way,” he softly shares. None of them are anywhere close to 50, hence not even having a colonoscopy on their radar. “I never really thought of myself as being an inspiration, I just did what had to be done.”

Jacob in the competition (Photo courtesy GCNKAA)

“Now I can do anything I could do before the surgery. My wife runs and I plan on doing a ‘Spartan Race’ with her in the future,” Jacob plans.

Jacob enjoys being a maintenance technician.

“I started my career with a basic aptitude of hands-on skills,” he shares. I had “that type of desire to take things apart or fix things before the career started. I think that’s all you need to get into it. As a maintenance person, you are required to know a lot about everything, you always want to try and learn new stuff. It’s always a learning field and career, and like any other trade there’s always someone that’s been there done that and can show you how to do it.”

His optimism and strive to be a better person are qualities which run through both his personal and professional lives. After being physically healed, Jacob was able to focus on his career again; another part of his life in which he excels. On June 28th he will be competing at the 2019 Maintenance Mania National Championship in Denver, CO. He has one of the 20 quickest times of the 6,000 maintenance technicians who competed across the country at their local levels.

An active family

The competition is held by the National Apartment Association (NAA) and consists of skilled-based games where maintenance technicians compete against each other. The tech’s use such skills as troubleshooting, planning, and problem-solving found in common maintenance work when repairing and/or tearing apart and rebuilding in areas of electrical, plumbing, lock installation, A/C and heating, and much more. At the games, this year stations include AC repair, water heater installation, toilet repair, fire & CO installation, and others.

This is a competition Jacob has been competing in during almost all of the 11 years he has been in the multifamily housing industry. He’s pretty good too, having made it to the national level the last two years.

Variety and room to grow are two key features Jacob likes about this field.

“I like the variation [and] every day is different. It’s nice. Maintenance technicians are in demand for sure.”

Training others and teaching them new skills are also elements of the field he enjoys and wants to put all of this to use to grow in his field. But he feels he has hit a peak. “Since I’ve been back from cancer I’ve been at the same place, the Paddock Club, working with a friend I grew up with. I wasn’t sure what I could do, now I know what I can do and what I want to do is keep growing.”

He sees himself in the future as a supervisor and is ready to start taking the steps to get there.

“I think everyone should strive to have a growth mindset. Anyone can better themselves if they put the work in. [Having] a growth mindset you can actively learn new things, change your position, and improve yourself.”

This describes Jacob perfectly, always striving to be a better person in all aspects of life.

Contact the Northern Kentucky Tribune at news@nkytrib.com

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