Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash

“I’m not a quitter man,” Chad Freeman said slamming his fist onto the table, the fire trembling in his eyes. It was clear that thought was pushing him forward as he took another gulp of his ramen noodle soup.

The 6’6” man from Cincinnati, Ohio has been put through the wringer and keeps on spinning as he would say. His friend of thirty years Mike Warren said that Freeman could, “talk his way into anything.” “Freeman can talk his way into anything,” says Mike Warren, a friend of Warren for 30 years. Warren recalled a time when Freeman talked his way into the cockpit of a plane heading from Cincinnati to Freeport and the pilot showed them pictures of bulls fornicating.

“What a ride,” said Warren.

At the age of 5, his mother and father moved him out to Seattle, as he flashes his Seattle Seahawks football jersey, After three years in Seattle he and his mother set off for Tenessee after his father left. It was in Tenessee that Freeman decided his dream.

“My mom would drive me down to the Atlanta airport about 100 miles away so I could watch the planes,” said Freeman that after that. He always knew what he wanted to do and that it was in the sky.

Freeman finished out his adolescence and teenage years in Chatanooga, Tennessee with his as he describes, “incredibly hardworking mother.” He graduated from McCallie School, an all-boys prep school, in 1989 and moved on to Lynn University on a baseball scholarship. Freeman talks about getting into Georgia Tech but not being able to afford it and having to settle on Lynn.

The baseball scholarship is not for nothing, however. In 1992 Freeman dropped out of college with the chance to be drafted into the MLB. In the 45th round of the MLB draft, Chad Freeman was selected by the Atlanta Braves, “You gotta take the shot,” he says. He laments about rubbing elbows with players like John Rocker and Tom Glavine but alas it wasn’t for him. “I spent two years in the Idaho Falls Pioneer League which was a development league for the MLB and in the first year I hit .145 and the second I hit .205, I knew I wasn’t going to make it.”

After the stint in baseball, Freeman aimed to return to school. However, his baseball scholarship was now gone leaving to take out student loans to pay his way through to finish school. Which finally happened in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in logistics. After college Freeman worked at DHL, Swiss Air Cargo, and then for Northwest Airlines Cargo, all as an outside sales representative.

Then in 2005, he lost his job.

“I just kind of sat for 6 months trying to figure out what to do, then I took some jobs in Miami,” Freeman says. He says that he went from making around $220,000 a year to just around $30,000 a year. “I feel like I fell down like I took a step back.”

“From that point until about 2013 I was a job hopper. I got married and had to support my wife and three stepsons.” Freeman says he doesn’t look back at this point fondly, “I was working three jobs, sleeping maybe two hours a night on a good night and I just wasn’t eating.”

“I should have listened to the red flags,” Freeman speaks about his eventual divorce in December. “I remember her father coming to me before the wedding with an entire file about me, they ran a background check and were questioning me about my past.” His now ex-wife said to him, “I’ve gotten all I can out of you.”

His life didn’t stop there though. He soon started seeing another woman named Samantha.

“She saved my life.” He speaks about how they were just casually seeing each other when he started getting very sick and she forced him to go to the hospital. “I got there and they told me that my white blood cell count was low and that they were going to run some more tests, six hours passed with no word until Dr. Greg Shneider came in.” Dr. Shneider told Freeman that, “they found a mass on your left kidney that is very suspect of cancer.” “At that point, I was spiraling,” says Freeman, “I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.”

“I didn’t want to have surgery or chemo, so my best friend Charles Kronuller directed me to a Joyce O’Brien who told me to check out an alternative treatment clinic in Lustmuhl, Switzerland.” The clinic he went to was called the Paracelsus Klinik and the alternative treatment would last for five months. “During those five months, I lived in an inn with my dog Miss Cookie.”

“The first thing that the doctor says is ‘tell me about your life the past five years.’” Freeman tells the doctor about the lack of sleep or food and overworking to support his now ex-wife and stepsons. The doctor started him on a few different treatments, like a vegan diet with a high dose of vitamin-C, hypothermia treatment where the body is heated to 106 degrees Fahrenheit to kill cancer cells, and ozone therapy where blood is drawn, mixed with oxygen, and transfused back into the body.

“The goal is to make you non-acidic,” says Freeman.

The five-month treatment was a success in Freeman’s eyes, he was returning to America cancer-free. He came to Florida and was with his mother for a little bit until he moved out to Phoenix, Arizona to work as a freight forwarder. Then around Thanksgiving in 2013 he went to visit his mother back in Florida.

“I knew something wasn’t right,” says Freeman, “I knew she was dying.”

Freeman talks about the struggles of finding a doctor that could even diagnose what was wrong with his mother let alone help until he went to the University of Florida where she was diagnosed MSA or multiple system atrophy, which is something very similar to Parkinson’s with a quicker progression. So Freeman moved back to Florida.

“I took care of my mother.”

He started a business out of his mother’s spare bedroom brokering truck freight in order to make ends meet.

“I live in a state of why did she go, I thought that I was going to die with her.”

Shortly after his mother’s passing, he began training to become a pilot to finally live his childhood dream. “For me to get flight training I was living out of a storage shed in Pompano and showering at the gym.” And because of his determination, he became a pilot moving onto his second long term piloting job with Tran State Airlines, his first being with the government contractor, East Coast Flight services that ran on-demand charter flights to different US naval bases.

“I want my story to be able to inspire people, that they can still succeed in their forties.”

The perfect metaphor for the life of Chad Freeman is an anecdote he was passionate about where he explained that he waited for hours just for a bagel to get delivered to his house. The wait was eventually worth it.

Freeman will also soon be a father, his now-wife Jessica Fishbein-Freeman is pregnant and Freeman says, “My meaning is that child, this is what I overcame it all for.”

A journalist just trying to get by. Everywhere to find me.

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