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  • About Jack Strickland

    Jack Strickland is a retired AP writer who was nominated by our newspaper for The Pulitzer Prize. His writing about Florida prisons, cancer victims, sports, and just plain folks is a special treasury for readers. He is active in the war against cancer. He, himself, is a survivor. As a reporter he covered many of the major stories in Florida. He lives in Gainesville where he is an advocate for cancer patients of all ages. Jack finds special joy in getting sports stars and teams involved in the care young cancer victims. He claims that the athletes benefit from the involvement as much as the patients. He says he managed to miss many tackles as a football player long ago, and learned that defeat can be temporary and serve as the foundation for success.
    Recent Florida Tales Content

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     • Day in court in Alachua County: tragedy without an end - Young father could face 48 years in prison in accident in which his 4-month-old daughter and a 6-year-old boy were killed. A day in court in Alachua County shed light on how the wheels of justice turn in this case. ...
     • Swept up into court, the homeless lady gets a bit of justice, a taste of mercy in daily docket - Day in court puts the drama on the front burner as judge tries to sort out fates of those caught in the justice system. Multiple charges are the rule. ...
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     • Kids at hospital show No.1 Gator basketball team true courage as laughter, smiles are shared - After defeating basketball powerhouse Kentucky, the Gator basketball team took on even a more daunting challenge of fighting on behalf of kids who face life-threatening illness at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. ...
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     • I ‘ain’t dead yet’ despite what the doctor’s records show, and that’s enough to mix up everyone - Columnist Jack Strickland has been listed as “dead” by the authorities, but this column proves he is very much alive. ...
     • I ‘ain’t dead yet’ despite what the doctor’s records show, and that’s enough to befuddle everyone - Columnist Jack Strickland has been listed as “dead” by the authorities, but this column proves he is very much alive. ...
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    Recent TTN News Content

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     • Women prisoners count their blessings on a tearful Thanksgiving at Lowell Prison - Visits on Thanksgiving were all too short at Lowell Prison where children were asking "Why can't I stay with Mommy?" Columnist Jack Strickland visits at Lowell and writes a riveting story about the emotions of the day as families got together all too briefly. He came away with both a feeling of sadness and of joy. ...
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    Jack Strickland's Florida Tales...

    I ‘ain’t dead yet’ despite what the doctor’s records show, and that’s enough to befuddle everyone

    November 11, 2013

    Heaven

    “I ain’t dead yet!” was my urgent cry. The befuddled medical assistant who had reported otherwise was in disbelief. She demanded identification. I insisted that she come take my pulse. 

    She wanted my date of birth, my social security number, my insurance numbers,  and my driver’s license number. I had it all ready and included my blood pressure and pulse rate for the amusement of the my doctor’s office manager who was listening in on the phone conversation.  Her muffled giggles inspired me to push my protest to the limit.

    It was a simple misunderstanding. It started with a call from my pharmacist. She informed me there was a problem in filling one of my prescriptions. She had contacted my doctor’s office requesting a routine renewal of one of my scripts that had expired.

    The doctor’s office informed her that I am no longer a patient of the doctor. Permission to renew the prescription was denied. The pharmacist called me wanting to know if I had changed physicians. Not to my knowledge, was my reply. I agreed to call my doctor to see what was going on.

    The familiar voice of my doctor’s office manager came on the line. Have I been dropped as a patient, I demanded to know. “No way!” she assured me. “Let me check the file to see what’s going on.”  After a few minutes of small talk while she reviewed my medical file I heard uproarious laughter.

    It seems that a new office assistant had pulled my file in response to the pharmacy request for authority to renew the prescription. The new staff member saw that, three years ago, I was a cancer patient with a terminal diagnosis that predicted a life expectancy of 90 days.

    The new assistant is a smart girl fresh out of nursing school. She used all that college training and modern day book learning and deduced that I am dead. They do not renew prescriptions for dead people. My pharmacist’s request was denied and my name was removed from my doctors list of patients.

    I asked to speak to the new assistant. The office manager stayed on the line for the entertainment. The new assistant picked up and did not initially believe my protests that I am Jack Strickland or that I am alive. I was finally able to convince her. Then I could not resisting having some fun.

    I swore that I would not have bothered her for the prescription renewal if I were dead. I teased that as a dead man I would not need the prescription because I’d probably be in Hell and there are undoubtedly lots of unscrupulous pharmacists there who do not require a doctor’s say-so. Besides, I said I would not complain if Satan was my keeper. 

    Everyone knows cancer patients would feel at home in Hell because the Attorney General of Florida’s supervision of medicating patients with chronic pain has made the lives of Florida’s very sick people seem like a living Hell on earth. 

    The new medic rebounded and joined in the fun with, “Well if you do go to Hell you can probably deal with all that there. You know the Florida attorney general is bound to be on her way to Hell, too.”

    Who knew that fighting cancer could be such an adventure. If I had known it could be this much fun I might have contracted the dreaded disease earlier in life.

    This is not the first time I have been presumed dead. A couple of years ago I wrote the obituary for a friend and fellow cancer patient. Friends who saw my byline under the headline, without reading the obituary, assumed that I was the one who had died. With the use of social media, news of my demise rapidly swept far and wide.

    My phone started ringing off the hook as friends started calling to offer their condolences and to check on funeral plans. After the first call I realized what had happened. With the assistance of caller ID I could not resist having some fun.

    It was like Huck Finn attending his own funeral. People say the nicest things about you when they think you are dead.

    I pulled a variety of pranks. In a deep disguised voice answering one call from a dear Georgia friend, I responded, “This is Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates of Heaven. To which angel should I direct your call?”

    The confused caller stammered, stuttered, paused, and wanted to know if she had reached the number of Jack Strickland’s family. Saint Peter responded that she had indeed and he would put Angel Jack on the line. In my normal voice I excitedly came on the line saying, “It is so good to hear your voice. I have missed all of my dear Georgia friends. There are no Georgia Bulldogs here in Heaven!”

    My kind and gentle loving friend caught her breath, gathered her wits, and responded, “If you are not dead, you will be when I see you!”

    Ah, the joys of life. Who knew that being a cancer survivor could be so much fun.