The Long Engagement
After decades as a feared killer, cancer is slowly becoming what was once unthinkable: a disease people live with. Meet Jeff Tirengel and his on-again, off-again relationship with cancer.
The lime green rubber bracelet on Jeff Tirengel’s wrist is engraved with a simple message: “No one fights alone.”
It was a gift from one of his classes at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, where he has taught graduate students for 20 years. The class presented it to him shortly after he announced that he would have to undergo a bone marrow transplant—his second—to treat his third lymphoma in five years.
“One of my students handed it to me, and when I looked up, I realized they were all wearing the bracelet,” Jeff recalls. He shakes his head. “Man, how lucky am I?”
It’s a sunny afternoon in early April, just two weeks after his transplant, and Jeff, 62, is relaxing in his Santa Monica home. In his customary deadpan humor, he jokes that he is under “light house arrest” until his new immune system takes hold. His demeanor is gentle and kind, his voice quiet and calming. It’s easy to believe that he has guided others through crises during his long career as a psychologist.