Only the Strong Survive

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Breast cancer and artistry touched my life through my mother–in-law, Jutta Scheider Adami, someone whom I love and adore,. Born in Silesia, (then Germany, now Poland), Jutta Adami’s early life was filled with the gut-wrenching realities of World War II: poverty, losses of life and strife. The oldest of four, her childhood was filled with being left alone while her parents ran a dairy store, to fleeing from the Russian front with her family toward Germany, where survival meant living in the animal quarters on a family farm. Their host family treated these refugees with disregard and contempt. Jutta has shared with me the pain and hurt that she lived through, from abuse to starvation. As the eldest, she was to watch over her siblings, and to be their parental unit. Her father was sent off to fight in an unjust war, and what was left of their family’s belongings were stolen and never recovered.

At the end of the war, the family settled in a small hamlet in Germany where Jutta excelled in school. She loved fashion, art and music and joined the local choir. This was also where she met her husband Nikolaus Adami. His career took him from border patrol agent, to becoming the first public relations officer of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium. Speaking only German and English, Jutta began French lessons, and became fluent. She also noticed that she understood the Dutch Flemish language also spoken in the country, because it reminded her of the old German that both her mother and grandmother spoke and she adapted quickly.

This new adventure allowed for a creative side of her to develop and become something she hadn’t imagined possible while growing up. Her life was full of fancy restaurants and dinners with prime ministers and country leaders. Her husband’s job also meant that fantastic family vacations and later multiple world trips would become part of their life. About 15 years ago, she shared with us that cancer was found in her breast and that she chose to undergo a complete mastectomy. Her trials and otherwise healthy life returned, but the cancer never did. I attribute her success over the disease to be a result of her stamina during such bleak times in her childhood and the natural outpouring of love she brings to every occasion she finds herself in. Her legacy gives me great hope for our daughter Julia to blossom and be as strong as her Oma (German for grandmother). This year Jutta turned 80, and all of her children and grandchildren joined her in Toulouse, France to celebrate it!


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Taylor Kelsaw

Taylor Kelsaw started his career in San Francisco, Calif. more than 30 years ago and has since worked on many highly rated television shows including “Oprah” and “Live with Regis and Kelly.” He loves to paint, sing, act and being the proud parent of three lovely children.