Humility, Tenacity, Rebirth
You never know what you have until its taken away from you. On a cold February morning, in the midst of his naval career, Jeff woke up to find a lump in his neck. Four days later, he received the news that would forever change his life. Jeff was told he had an advanced form of lymphoma. Cancer. His career was over.
The initial meeting with his doctors did not go well. Reviewing detailed information available from his biopsy, Jeff began to add up the time it would take to be treated. He quickly concluded his treatment would affect his next duty assignment. When Jeff protested, he was abruptly informed "Commander, you will never fly again."
Ever the optimist, Jeff began his fight. He refused the traditional form of treatment suggested by his physician, and opted instead for an experimental chemotherapy regime. Designed to reduce his exposure to drugs which would rob him of the ability to absorb oxygen - the lifeblood of a fighter pilot - Jeff's battle would prove difficult.
The series of medical procedures Jeff endured were traumatic. Though humbled, his tenacity shined through the dark moments that would consume his life for months. Yet through it all, Jeff held closely to his optimism, and never accepted his fate. He was determined to return to the cockpit, and did so in record time.
Then Lieutenant Commander Lay beat Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and blazed a trail for others diagnosed with cancer to regain flight status as a Naval Aviator. To this day, Jeff considers this trial to be his rebirth; he mentors others to believe in the impossible - to fight cancer with humility and tenacity, and to never give up the fight.
Excellence is a Choice