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A Tale of Two Friends


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A Tale of Two Friends

Cancer sucks.

Let me tell you about two friends of mine, Raul and Michael.

Raul is a good man working and supporting his family. Four sons and a couple of grandsons. He was at work and took a fall for no reason, headaches and dizziness led to a diagnosis of a brain tumor. Completely inoperable but Chemo and radiation to treat it. His doctors have given him 1 to 3 years. That was over a year ago. He will not “just stop” one day but will likely fade and devolve slowly. He has suffered badly since, and last month started bleeding from his nose with no stopping only to start bleeding from the roof of his mouth when they got his nose to stop. Last time I saw him was in the hospital waiting for surgery, to give his wife a break. It was one of the most gruesome things I have seen (and I’ve seen a lot) three surgeries in the last month. He is having trouble swallowing and his wife (God bless her) is cutting his food into small bites as he does not want puréed food. His doctors wanted to install a colostomy bag, after sitting down with his doctor to go over the procedure and care of the bag, he pats his wife on the knee and says “I’m not doing this, not to you and not to the family”

He is terminal, he can pass with a colostomy bag and eating baby food every day or he can pass a few months earlier as a man. They have pretty much closed the doors to visitors and his sister in law and wife are there. His sons rotate through and he has gotten to hold his first granddaughter. Doctors have given him six months.

We are waiting.


Now Michael was a great friend of ours. Best man at our wedding, a whole mess of kids and grandkids. A few years older than I, he was a retired mail carrier, Vietnam vet, wonderful man. He is the first person (other than me) to address Mercy as “Mercy” everybody else was still calling her Mya after the adoption. When I told him this, he looked at Mercy and said. “That’s your name isn’t it?” And she gave him a typical 5 year old “Yup” so he tells her “Then that what I’ll call you”…….she has loved him ever since

he and his wife had a home here and another in Florida. Living the “snowbird” life. While on the way back home to Indiana, Michael started to hiccup. At first funny then worrisome, then alarming, so they stopped at a hospital along the way. After a battery of test, and more blood tests, then x-rays, then MRI, then CT scan…..stage 4 liver cancer. Michael had no symptoms or warning and was in very good shape (you don’t walk 20 miles a day for 30 years for nothing) After returning home and consulting specialists he had surgery to remove a good part of his liver (did you know that a liver grows back, amazing) Chemo and all the other obvious treatments didn’t work and Michael started to waste away very quickly. They were changing his medication numerous times a week  when he finally told the doctor “you’re going to tell us when we can stop this, right?” And the doctor quietly said that they can stop now as it was not accomplishing anything. Michael wasted away and passed in two months from diagnosis to death. He had changed so drastically that he decided to be cremated as he didn’t want family and friends looking at him afterwords, but to remember him as he was. The service was covered with pictures and notes.

Both of these men had enough time, thankfully, to make all the arrangements and get their estates in order. Michael found a way to get to his lawyers office without his wife knowing and made on of the shortest wills in history. “My wife gets everything”

Which way is best? I don’t know. Michael was here and gone very quickly and the pain is short and hot. Raul is fading and his systems are collapsing slowly. Grinding on the family and friends over a long period of time. Difficult and prolonged.

Michael was a shock, Raul is a tragedy.

The lovely wife and I have had a lot of discussions during this time. I have told her that I would go on a milk shake and instant breakfast diet before she is going to purée my food. And she has said that she would never want a colostomy bag just for a few more months. We are big believers in prearrangement of funerals.

Talk to your wife/husband/family.


published on Mercysdad.com 081118





Edited by Dric902
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Sorry to hear of your friends.  Cancer sucks.

I lost a very good friend to stomach cancer a few years ago.  Watching him waste away was one of the hardest things I've ever witnessed.

Another good friend just told me he was diagnosed with stage 2 kidney cancer.  He goes under the knife later this month.  I'm praying for him.

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Got a call from them today, the wife answered.

they asked Raul if he wanted any more chemo and he declined, he needs a blood transfusion but hospice said no as it would just prolong what is happening.

then I hear the wife say”he wants a what? I didn’t think he could”

she looks at me and tells me that Raul wants a Whopper...........I said, fries or onion rings.    

“Onion rings”

tell him were on the way.


he could eat much, but what he did eat he enjoyed the hell out of.



im gonna miss him.





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