A colleague in the pressure washing industry shares a very inspirational story about his plight with cancer.
Under pressure Athens multi-tasker runs business while fighting leukemia By Holly Hollman
ATHENS – Jeremy Kiefer could be walking on top of a roof one minute, sitting in a doctor’s office having blood drawn the next and ending the day operating a driving-under-the-influence checkpoint.
Kiefer could teach lessons on multi-tasking if he decided to add one more item to his to-do list.
The Athens business owner has juggled multiple jobs since he was a teenager in college.
Now he is running a business and fighting cancer.
At age 17, Kiefer took classes at an Indiana college, managed a tuxedo store and ran his own window cleaning business.
At age 34, Kiefer is a husband and father, the owner of Clear Shine Maintenance and a reserve officer for Athens police.
Since December, his life has involved more than his usual multi-tasking. He has been designing a battle plan against chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
A doctor discovered the leukemia after deciding to do a blood test as a follow-up to Kiefer having e-coli earlier in the year.
“I was having panic attacks, and my equilibrium was off, so the doctors said we should do a full blood work,” Kiefer said.
Panic attacks and equilibrium issues are dangerous for Kiefer’s job, because he climbs ladders and gets on top of roofs as part of his cleaning business.
“This type leukemia is usually diagnosed in those 60 or older,” Kiefer said. “There’s not a lot of background for people my age.”
According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, there are 15,490 new cases of CLL each year. It can cause loss of energy, shortness of breath, swollen lymph nodes and infections.
Waiting on chemo
This type of leukemia is slow-progressing, so Kiefer and his doctors have decided to wait until the disease affects his red blood cells before starting chemotherapy and doing a bone marrow transplant.
Once there are a high number of CLL cells in the marrow, they can crowd out normal blood-forming cells, and Kiefer will have to attack the cancer with chemo and a transplant.
Although Kiefer is taking the wait-and-see approach with leukemia, he is not taking that approach with his career. Between medical check-ups, Kiefer markets his business, oversees his crew of three, mixes chemicals, conducts demonstrations, operates the equipment and climbs onto roofs. His father, Stan, helps him run the business. They travel throughout North Alabama to provide residential and commercial cleaning.
Kiefer’s company uses a soft wash process to clean roofing shingles and the more common pressure washing process to clean chimneys, driveways, sidewalks and other structures.
“Many people don’t think about cleaning the roof,” Kiefer said. “The roof process is gentle and doesn’t void the warranty. It’s so soft you can put your hand in the stream of water. We put a detergent mix on the roof, and then when it rains, it cleans off the mold and debris.”
Kiefer said that no matter what his future holds, he will keep multi-tasking. When the time comes to put his focus on leukemia treatments, he will do so, but keep other projects going.
“I’m very one-track minded,” he said, “but at the same time, I have to have a lot of things going on. I focus on one thing at a time, but I have to have multiple things to focus on throughout the day.”