Adeline Blazek has put her first birthday and her second Christmas into the books.
With a lot of time devoted to being held, squeezed, kissed and spoiled, she sure has been one busy young lady.
“I’m blessed,” said her father, Nicholas. “It really feels that way. Having her birthday 10 days before Christmas is ideal. That way, we can celebrate her life in the finest fashion.”
We shared the Blazeks’ story one year ago at Christmastime. Adeline was a week old. Nicholas was bravely fighting Stage 4 brain cancer. Sanekia was tirelessly caring for her husband, a lead writer for the FanSided network’s Cubbies Crib site, and their first child.
“There’s no ‘lose,’ ” Nicholas Blazek said then. “That’s not in my thoughts at all.”
His fight continues. Frankly, it has gotten harder. Now 40, Blazek walks with a cane, the right side of his body weakened, his arm and foot often without feeling. He struggles at times to speak, as simple words and phrases elude him.
There’s no surgical cure for the type of tumor — called a glioblastoma — that’s inside Blazek’s brain, but he has undergone multiple surgeries to remove as much of it as possible. The most recent surgery was in September, right around the time Adeline was beginning to walk.
“You should see her,” he said this week in an email exchange. “Walking since nine months. Unreal. And she’s got some ‘speed’ behind her, that’s for sure. Let’s just say that Sanekia is one step behind her.”
Watching his daughter speed up as he slows down? That’s a process that’s supposed to play out over many years, not in the blink of an eye. But Blazek’s life has been anything but normal since he was airlifted to a hospital while visiting Sanekia’s family in Murphy, North Carolina, last June.
This is some kind of guy, though. He doesn’t throw around hashtags like “#BlazekStrong” and “#NVRQT” — the latter borrowed from Cubs pitcher and cancer survivor Jon Lester — loosely. Nicholas Blazek believes in them in his bones as he fights like hell for himself, his family and their future.
“What’s next?” he said. “Hmm. I’d like to NOT go through the next year and a half with another bout of brain cancer. But if I do, so be it.”
At home in Charlotte, North Carolina, Blazek has put another Christmas into the books himself. He has the love and warmth of family on his side. He has friends all over, many of them Cubs fans, rooting for him.
And there’s a precious girl bopping around, making joyful sounds as she discovers new worlds and wraps her “blessed” dad around her finger a little more every day.
He got another Christmas with her — such a gift.
He’ll take the same thing again next year.
I have to apologize, because it seems several of the Christmas gifts I sent were lost in the mail. They include:
A blue No. 80 jersey for Mitch Trubisky, in recognition of all the times the Bears quarterback has yelled “Blue 80!” before receiving a shotgun snap and avoiding instant, colossal disaster.
Groucho Marx glasses for Bears general manager Ryan Pace, so he can leave his hidden cave in disguise once in a while even when a reporter is within a 10-mile radius.
A megaphone for Bulls coach Jim Boylen, who might as well be sure his players are at least hearing him as they tune him out.
A shiny new crowbar for Theo Epstein, so the Cubs president can break into the Ricketts family piggy bank and do some actual business before every last free agent has signed with the White Sox.
—- Unofficial state basketball rankings: 1. DePaul, 2. Collinsville, 3. Bloom, 4. Bulls, 5. Illinois.
The Illini aren’t moving up, either, until they learn how to hit the broad side of a barn.
Northwestern’s Boo Buie has such a fun name to say that he’s just outside the top 10 all by himself.
—- LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, born in Iowa and raised in North Dakota and Ohio, during a Christmas Eve press conference ahead of the Peach Bowl playoff semifinal Saturday:
“When I envisioned myself growing up and being a football player, it wasn’t in the NFL. It was playing on January 13 in a dome somewhere for the national title.”
Translation: You think I’m here for the etouffee?
—- Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton after Monday’s pathetic 7-1 loss to the bottom-of-the-barrel Devils at the United Center:
“It seems like we need to start over all the time.”
Translation: Anybody seen Boylen’s megaphone?