Jim Gaffigan, a comedian best known for his cynical take on food, laziness, and family life is a family man through and through.
Although some of his fans might think he can’t stand his five kids most of the time and is constantly disappointing his wife, they are actually his pride and joy.
He and his wife, Jeannie, have written two seasons of “The Jim Gaffigan Show,” two books, and five hour-long comedy specials together.
The two are each other’s better halves.
But just three months ago, they discovered that their smooth-sailing world was in the heart of a terrifying storm: Jeannie had a benign tumor wrapped around her brain stem.
According to her doctor, it was the size of an apple.
Jeannie told People that, for months, she had been ignoring recurring headaches, dizziness, and brutal bouts of coughing. She assumed that as a working mother of five she was simply feeling the effects of a fast-paced life.
But when she began experiencing hearing loss in May, she knew she needed to see a doctor.
One MRI later, Jeannie and Jim learned of the massive tumor that had been residing on top of her brain for over a year. Jeannie told People:
“I was a ticking time bomb, waiting to be paralyzed.”
Her brain surgeon, Dr. Joshua Bederson, Professor and System Chair Department of Neurosurgery at the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, told People:
“All function of the brain passes through the brain stem and out into the body. And her brain stem was compressed.”
And on April 18, Jeannie underwent a nine-hour operation to remove the tumor. She and Jim were preparing themselves for anything:
“We were prepped for the understanding that good news would be like, ‘We got 85 percent of it.’ But they removed all the tumor, and there was no damage to her 12 cranial nerves.”
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The outpouring of support, thoughts & prayers for @jeanniegaffigan from family, friends & internet pals over the past month has really hindered my negative thinking. Thank you. ##Repost @jeanniegaffigan (@get_repost) ・・・ Gratitude for terrific friendships and a better life than I ever expected.
Thankfully, her recovery has gone just as well as the operation. While she did have some scary complications like aspiration pneumonia, she and Jim have been overwhelmed with gratitude. Jeannie told People:
“My whole life has changed. The people who have come out of this have shown me how loved I am.”
She even penned an essay for People about her recovery process on Wednesday, writing, in part:
“My love for my [five children] which seemed boundless before has multiplied a thousand fold as has my love for Jim. The marriage vow ‘in sickness and in health’ became more than just words, and I am inspired every day by the strength and courage of the man who held everything together through this hurricane brought on by the brain tumor.
I dodged a bullet and my life will never be the same. Don’t wait for the hurricane to hang on to your family and friends and to find the blessings and the glory in every detail. Do it now.”
And her husband took note.
Wednesday also happened to be their 14th wedding anniversary. Jim took to social media to post a short, humorous, but sweet message to his beloved wife:
His caption read:
“14 yrs ago today I married the love of my life, [Jeannie]. Together we’ve created 5 children, 5 hour specials, 2 books, 2 seasons of a TV show and one massive brain tumor.”
Even sweeter, the comedian planned out a five-star dining experience for Jeannie in a very special way. Because swallowing is still “nearly impossible” for the recovering wife, Jim had his pal, Mario Batali — who happens to be a world-renown chef — organize a decadent seven-course meal consisting of soups and purées.
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I realize we live in strange, maybe even mean times. Like you, I read the news daily shaking my head with horror how humans treat other humans. But there are some amazing people out there. When @jeanniegaffigan was diagnosed with a brain tumor so many friends, family and strangers stepped up to offer meals, help, encouragement and prayers. It really blew me away. Thank you so much for everything. One friend was @mariobatali who with his wife Suzi sent over numerous elaborate gourmet meals to feed me, the kids and our helpers. Last week I emailed Mario asking him to hep me find a place for our 14th wedding anniversary. I was trying to find a nice place for us to celebrate but given Jeannie can not comfortably eat solids I was hoping to find a place that did amazing soups (yes,in July.) I knew Mario was on vacation but I hoped he could point me in the right direction. Mario responded insisting that we come to @delposto and that he would make sure we were well taken care of. When we arrived we saw that Mario had created a custom tasting menu of various gourmet soups with accompanied wines or cocktails. Of course the whole experience was insanely amazing but the generosity of kindness and compassion by Mario was most moving. Thanks Mario
His caption read, in part:
“When we arrived we saw that Mario had created a custom tasting menu of various gourmet soups with accompanied wines or cocktails. Of course the whole experience was insanely amazing but the generosity of kindness and compassion by Mario was most moving.”
And after such a life-altering experience, Jim and Jeannie clearly aren’t wasting any time getting back to themselves — soup, comedy, kids, and all.