Jack Ladinsky: Staying Positive After a Difficult Diagnosis

When Jack Ladinsky was diagnosed with myeloma, a blood cancer, in 2016, he left his home in San Diego to be treated in Birmingham, where his daughter and her family live. Jack loved being part of the bustling household of daughter Morissa Ladinsky and son-in-law Mitch Cohen. But they had children of their own and both were pediatricians with busy careers – Morissa as a clinician at Children’s of Alabama and a UAB faculty member, Mitch as Chair of Pediatrics at UAB and Physician in Chief at Children’s.

Morissa lovingly rearranged her schedule so she could accompany Jack to his medical appointments; that meant the world to Jack, even though he regretted piling more responsibilities onto her already hectic days. The cancer treatments were tough, physically and emotionally – but Jack really didn’t want to unload all of that on his family.

That’s when Jack turned to CJFS. Once a week, Stu Jaffe, a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker from CJFS, began meeting with Jack in Morissa and Mitch’s living room. With the rest of the family at work and school, Jack and Stu developed a relationship that helped Jack manage the emotional roller coaster of cancer. Today, Jack is cancer-free, but he has continued seeing Stu as he deals with the challenges of aging. “Stu is very professional, and he’s also very warm and kind. I can cry a little, laugh a little, and I can complain endlessly if I want to. Sometimes, Stu helps me find a solution to a problem, and sometimes we just find a way to laugh about it, because these things are just part of the aging process.”

Jack has ridden the purple CJFS Buz-A-Bus for errands and activities. Recently, CJFS Care Manager Amy Peetluk began escorting him to medical appointments through the CJFS Just Like Family program. In clinical appointments, Amy can ask important questions and take notes if needed, as well as help Jack plan how he will follow the doctor’s instructions. “Amy makes sure we get all the information we need from the doctor,” Jack says, “and Morissa doesn’t have to rearrange her schedule so much.”

“I’m thrilled that my dad is well enough that I don’t feel like I have to be at every doctor’s visit,” Morissa says, “and I understand why this program is called Just Like Family. I know Amy will be as conscientious in managing my father’s care plan as I would be, and that means everything.”


The Licensed Clinical Social Workers of CJFS are experts and assessing the needs of older adults and helping them connect with needed resources. CJFS also provides bus and escorted transportation, confidential professional counseling, Medicare Part D consultation, the CARES respite program, care coordination, financial management and more. To learn more, contact Clinical Programs Director Marcy Morganbesser, marcy@cjfsbham.org or 205.879.3438.