After Decades Fighting Tumors, He Finally Met His Dad

October 10, 2018 Updated: October 11, 2018

Have you ever had a moment in your life that made you question everything?

Since Jack Tuller was a small child, he was led to believe that when he was a baby, his father had driven off of Devil’s Slide, a cliff in California overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Jack Tuller as a child
Jack as a child. (Courtesy of Jack Tuller)

He was assured that his father was long dead and that there would be no reason to do any further investigation. Still, certain things about this story didn’t quite add up. Over five decades later, Jack discovered the reality.

Before then, he was hesitant to look into it. He had moved away from his old home and didn’t want to reopen those wounds. Yet what finally got him to search for the truth was a series of brain tumors that his doctors believed should have already killed him by now.

The First Tumor

Jack had surgery for his first brain tumor back in 1994, although it took a few incidents before he knew what it was.

Tuller after his first tumor
Jack following his first brain surgery in 1994. (Courtesy of Jack Tuller)

“I was doing dishes, of all things, and after washing them, all of a sudden, I don’t understand language at all,” Jack told The Epoch Times. “Like I feel like it was French but I didn’t know French at all.”

Initially, he dismissed it as not being able to think straight because he was hungry, but six months later, another situation occurred.

“It was a similar thing. I remember I was sitting in my bed and, all of a sudden … I lost my ability to talk, for some reason,” Jack said.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when Jack was with his then-girlfriend (now wife), Jennifer, and he experienced three seizures in one day. Jennifer advised him to go to the hospital, which he did shortly thereafter.

In January 1994, Jack received a call from the hospital, asking him to come in right away. He was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma with mixed oligodendroglioma.

Anaplasia is a condition in which cells go through difficulty transforming into other types of cells, and astrocytoma is a form of brain cancer.  Oligodendroglioma is a type of tumor believed to originate from oligodendrocytes, another type of brain cell.

The tumor that this condition produced was the size of a grapefruit.

Tuller and Carino circa 1995
Jennifer and Jack at the hospital just a few days after his first surgery. (Courtesy of Jack Tuller)

Jennifer was working for a nonprofit at the time but all of the stress surrounding Jack’s tumor made it difficult to focus. Her co-workers had a great idea to help her manage everything though: treating her boyfriend’s tumor like a campaign for her job.

She was able to gather a group of people in her apartment at once to show them Jack’s scans. Her friends signed up for certain tasks, like driving Jack around or picking up groceries for the couple.

“It ended up being a very supportive atmosphere,” Jennifer told The Epoch Times. “Friends came out from all over the local Bay Area to really help out.”

The doctors told Jack that he only had six months to two years of life left, but in reality, that amount of time was all it took to fully recover from his tumor. For the next 19 years, he stayed happy and healthy.

Tumor Round Two

While quite scary at the time, the couple look back on those years after the first tumor with an odd sense of nostalgia. After all, it was then they got married, and with his brain uninhibited, Jack felt freer to express himself and say what he wanted to.

Still, those happy days didn’t last forever. In 2013, Jack experienced another incident very similar to his time doing dishes all those years ago.

“I was washing the windows and then, all of a sudden, like half of my body was just crazy,” Jack said. “I went numb and my language was a little off. I went ‘Oh my god! It’s coming back!’”

Worried for his life, Jack called a cab to be taken to the hospital—he was diagnosed with yet another brain tumor.

Jack after his 2nd surgery
Jack following his second brain surgery in 2013. (Courtesy of Jack Tuller)

“It has been challenging because, after Jack’s first surgery took him a couple of years to come back, somehow I had this feeling, this notion, that everything would be fine, he’d be OK, and he was and it turned out that way for the next 19 years,” Jennifer said. “This time after surgery though, I didn’t have that exact same feeling.”

Jack could feel a difference too. Knowing he might not have much time left to live, he decided to finally look into the mystery that had been plaguing him for decades.

When Jack was in high school, in the midst of his mother and stepfather divorcing, his stepfather revealed that Jack’s real father was still out there somewhere. He didn’t know where the man was at the time, but felt Jack could find him.

In 2016, after three years spent recovering from his surgery, the perfect opportunity arose to finally meet his dad.

Meeting ‘Jack Daddy’

Prior to the second surgery, Jack saw something online about a man named Jack L. Farrellwho was his father’s exact age.

Jack was certain this was his dad but the man lived in Antioch, about an hour away from his home in San Francisco. The brain surgery effected Jack in such a way that he couldn’t drive, so he wouldn’t just be able to show up on a whim.

Yet, in December 2016, Jack was invited by a friend to go out to Antioch. Since he had business there already, Jack saw it fit to visit his supposed father’s house on the way over.

The plan was to merely get some pictures of the house as well as some footage for his YouTube series, “A Few Minutes With Jack.” Yet, when he started taking photos, a woman came out the front door. 

“She goes ‘Oh. Can I help you?’” Jack recalled. “I was like ‘[Shoot]! What do I say?’ I said ‘Well, I’m looking for somebody named Jack Farrell. She goes ‘Oh, that’s my husband!’”

Soon, the senior Jack himself stepped through the door.

Jack Tuller meets his dad
Jack reunited with his father, Jack L. Farrell. (Courtesy of Bradley Berman)

“You’re my dad?” Jack asked.

“You’re my son?” Farrell replied. “I can’t believe it!” he exclaimed, as the two of them hugged it out.

The pair later took a DNA test to make sure that they were, in fact, father and son. The results showed a 99.999% possibility of paternity—another joyous moment.

Since then, Jack and his father have remained close. They’ve had barbecues, ridden around in golf carts together, and gotten to know each other more during weekends away in Carmel, Sacramento, and Sonora.

Farrell gained the nickname “Jack Daddy” so it would be easier to distinguish which Jack is which.

While it’s incredible that Jack’s tumors were what led him to discover his dad, the effect they have had on his health should not be understated.

He hears a constant ringing in his ears and feels like the sun is in his eyes, even when they are closed. There are a lot of simple tasks like reading and writing which he struggles with now too.

Some believe that Jack might be the person to survive the longest after a brain tumor. It’s highly rare for someone to live even 10 years after a tumor, and he’s been alive for over twice as long!

Jack has accomplished a lot in those years that he never thought he’d have done: He’s worked in both technology and real estate, traveled to places like Cuba, Thailand, and Madagascar, married his girlfriend, and met his long-lost dad.

Having had these amazing experiences, he feels very fortunate and considers each of them a reason to celebrate.

Speaking of celebrations, on July 28, he had a huge party for his 57th birthday, called “The Jack Tuller Show.”

He was surrounded by loved ones—including a special guest, his father—and had a lot of fun with musical entertainment and food shared by his friends. No one can say that it wasn’t a celebration well earned.

(Tuller and his wife at his 57th birthday)
The couple at “The Jack Tuller Show,” their name for his 57th birthday party. (Courtesy of Bradley Berman)

 

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