I guess the word is out, so I can blog about this now. My father-in-law, Frank, just found out this past week he is afflicted with stage four, terminal, incurable lung cancer. He is not a smoker. He's a fit and active guy who look twenty years younger than he is. The shit of it is this: He never had symptoms to catch it early. He started getting short of breath recently, went to the hospital, and they drained his lungs, which were filling with fluid. It happened again and again.
Meantime, he had back surgery. The doctors studied some of the pre-surgical tests and found out his diagnosis. He needs CT and PET scans before his oncologist can give him information about the extent, the time he may have left, etc.
The thing is, he's in terrific spirits. I know the first stage is denial, but I don't think that's in his nature. Frank's oncologist told him to carry on with his life as long as he's feeling well, which he is.
So Frank has plans. He's going on tour. He's coming to Rochester next week to enjoy my daughter's baptism and first communion (she was 8 when she decided, to the surprise and delight of her mom, who is spiritual, and I, an atheist, to join the Catholic church). Her grandfather, Frank, who has always been involved with the churches in the towns in which he's lived, will be there, along with his wife Betty, and of course my wife and I and my parents. We'll celebrate!
Then Frank and Betty are going Philadelphia to see my nephew (their grandson) play hockey. The kid is right around 16 and the star player on his team, the one who constantly makes the last-minute, game-saving goals. He's a prodigy, more at home on skates than in sneakers.
Next, Frank and Betty are going to attend the Masters golf tournament. Frank has not only been there many times, but has actually volunteered (and been chosen) to keep the grounds clean--a high honor for golf fans.
Why did I tell you all this? Because I want you to know that Frank is going to spend his last days, however many they are, living. Cancer or no cancer, Frank is not dying in any greater sense than we all are. He is a wise and wonderful man and deserves as much time as he can get--and he'll spend every minute of it enjoying life.
In the immortal words of Jim Morrison, no one here gets out alive. And in the equally compelling words of Mark Oliver "E" Everett, maybe it's time to live.