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Cancer Connection: Hospital housekeeper who lost wife, builds special bond with cancer patient and family

Darryl, who works in Environmental Services at Froedtert, has been a calming voice for the Jacob family.
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Posted at 5:27 AM, May 10, 2023

MILWAUKEE — A housekeeper at Froedtert Hospital goes the extra mile each day he steps into work. Although he has only worked at the hospital for a year, his sweet personable gestures and positive attitude aren’t going unnoticed by his colleagues or patients.

“People don't know how I live,” Darryl Taylor said. “When I shut the door, I have my daughters and my dogs. It's tough for me.”

Despite what he has gone through in his own life, Darryl has been a blessing to others through their darkest times. One special bond he has created with a patient and family has traveled beyond the hospital floor.

Lindsey Jacob is that patient. One day Darryl saw Lindsey and her husband Kris having a hard time in their hospital room, so Darryl knocked on the door with a smile, encouraged them, and prayed with them. That moment led them to a friendship that has grown beyond what they could’ve imagined.

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Darryl and Lindsey.

Lindsey has been battling appendix cancer for the last few years. Recently, within the last few months, she’s been in and out of the hospital.

“Everything that can be taken out of someone has been taken out of her,” Lindsey’s husband Kris said. “Full hysterectomy, full spleen, full stomach lining, every single thing possible.”

What Kris would describe as “normal” has been a challenge for Lindsey and his family.

“Someone asked the other day, when is the last time you guys have done something normal as a family? I don't know it's been a long time.”

Lindsey sometimes struggles to eat and often has stomach issues that prevent her from feeling well. As a mother to six-year-old Jordan, Lindsey continues to fight and stay strong for him.

“She tries to be the best mom she can be because she's an amazing mother,” Kris said. “One of my biggest fears is what will happen without her.”

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Lindsey and her son.

Darryl, who works in Environmental Services at Froedtert, has been a calming voice for the Jacob family.

“Him and I have sat in this exact room many times and cried our eyes out, laughed our eyes out, prayed,” Kris said as he talked about Darryl. “He would stop in every day and literally spend his breaks with Lindsey.”

The two have built an unbreakable and heartwarming bond. Darryl’s wife died from breast cancer at 44 years old. He knows what it’s like to have a wife fighting the disease and to be a father, helping his children understand.

“It hurts me because I know I'm making a difference. I know I'm doing what she wants me to do. My first weekend was tough. It was hard for me so when I see you in that room struggling, seeing your wife lay there and your son right there I just have to touch you,” Darryl said as he looked at Kris. “I have to say something to you because it does hurt to see Lindsey laying in the bed fighting for her life and your son, six years old, not knowing if he's going to have his mother. Not knowing that you're going to have your wife -- that touches me.”

Kris said there’s one moment he’ll never forget.

“I had to run home to get stuff for our son and change clothes. I get a call from my wife saying they're going to take her down right now and she was pretty upset. She was pretty scared. Right then and there, who walks in? Darryl. He holds her hand all the way down to the operating room, prays with her.”

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Darryl, who works in Environmental Services at Froedtert, has been a calming voice for the Jacob family.

Darryl said he sees miracles happen at the hospital every day and being placed where he is now, is a blessing by God. He often texts Lindsey and Kris encouraging messages, prayers, songs, and things that will make them laugh and smile.

“He’s always there encouraging,” Kris said. “He's constantly there to laugh with but most of the time I use his big shoulder to cry on I'm not going to lie. There's been many times. We cry it out and then he builds me back up and then we go fight another day.”

Darryl said one of his favorite songs to play in the hospital is “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor. It describes how he feels about the Jacob family.

“When I go in that room, I don't look at myself as a housekeeper, I look at myself as saving lives. I found my purpose, touching other families, letting them know that someone really cares,” Darryl said. “Cleaning a room is 40% but 60% is touching that patient, giving that patient hope, staying in touch with that patient, telling them it's okay to go through depression, I'll go through it with you.”

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Kris, Lindsey, and Darryl.

Darryl has even built a close relationship with Jordan. Jordan loves monster trucks and dinosaurs. Darryl has made it his mission to learn dinosaur facts. The two laugh and joke about them every time they talk.

Darryl and the Jacob family keep in touch and text and call on a consistent basis. Kris said they’re now family. In fact, Darryl plans to speak at an event the family is hosting. They created a charitable organization called Living 4 Lindsey, which provides resources for families battling appendix cancer. One way they’re raising funds to do so is through an annual golf outing which is scheduled for June 29.

Living 4 Lindsey is looking for sponsors. If you’re interested, you can find more information here.

And if you would like to donate, you can email living4lindseyfoundation@gmail.com.


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