Thursday, October 23, 2014

Farewell to an Amazing Man: There is NO "Best Cancer"

One Awesome Man.
On October 10th, 2014, this world of ours lost another amazing human to the beast that is cancer.  Pictured is my Uncle.  This man was not a smoker or a drinker and led a healthy lifestyle and was struck with Papillary Thyroid Cancer twelve years ago.  (As most of you remember, that’s the same cancer I had last year.)

Papillary Thyroid Cancer is the BEST cancer to get.”  Or so I was told by doctors and other people with whom I spoke last year on my own cancerous journey.  I kept telling folks that there is NO “BEST CANCER” to get, as my Uncle had been battling for twelve years with that very “best cancer.”

I’ve never personally known anyone to HAVE cancer for a full decade.  I am positive millions of people do and have, but not in my personal sphere.  Most of the folks who’ve encountered cancer, myself included, either beat it with treatment in an amount of time… or as my Dad and other friends I’ve lost—they don’t beat it at all and it’s a flame that burns quickly and most brutally.

So when I say the man had cancer for just over a full decade, he did.  His was an accidental finding.  After wrecking his bicycle years ago, he had x-rays done to check for broken ribs.  That’s when they discovered he had a tumor in his lung.  Naturally, he was treated for lung cancer immediately.  The treatments for Lung Cancer are NOT effective for treating Papillary Thyroid Cancer.  After getting jabbed, probed, and every other uncomfortable test, they discovered the thyroid cancer.

That's right.
My Uncle then underwent all the Radioactive Iodine treatments and surgeries.  And nothing.  The cancer went… NOWHERE. The thing about Papillary Thyroid Cancer... it moves SLOW. 

He did clinical trials of drugs that helped his tumors stop growing for a few years, so we got to keep him longer than they said in the beginning.  Here's what the Doctors said a decade ago:  “That this cancer spreads so slow that something else would probably kill him first, before the cancer got bad enough to.”  Since we aren't cartons of milk with an expiration date stamped on our forehead, it turned out that this "best cancer" was indeed what took him away.

My Uncle was one of the toughest men I have ever known. 

For twelve years, he lived knowing cancer was slowly doing what cancer loves to do.  During that time, he lived with compassion, grace, love and an innate understanding of what people can go through without breaking.  He had good days and bad days.  Who doesn’t??  He lived his life with purpose and continued to teach his Sunday School Classes up until the last few months when it became less possible for him to leave his house.  He literally changed hundreds of people’s lives with his teaching, preaching and absolutely brilliant sense of humor. 
View From On Top of Fryman Canyon, Los Angeles.

He was my biggest spiritual beacon and guru and now he is hanging out with the most excellent company of everyone who greeted him on the other side.  He will be forever missed by all of us still here. 

There is NO such thing as the “Best Cancer” to have—unless it’s NO cancer.

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