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25 Years Ago
The first time I met Dave I was an overconfident sixteen year old kid. I’d just knocked on his front door and was looking for his daughter, Mandy. She was the hot new sophomore in school and I was eager to get to know her a lot better.
Standing on that doorstep some 25 years ago I’m sure I came across with all of the obnoxiousness that only a 16 year old can ooze and simultaneously be unaware of.
“She’s not here” Dave politely told me. I’m still not sure if that was true or not, but in the long run it wouldn’t matter. Little did either of us know that within the next six years he’d become my father-in-law.
20 Years Ago
Several years later I was once again knocking on Dave’s front door, only this time I wasn’t looking for Mandy, I was looking for him. I was there to ask Dave for his blessing and permission to marry his daughter. As a young, punk kid this was a mere formality to me. A gesture of respect that was to be made before his blessing was inevitability given.
When he invited me pull up a chair on his back patio I knew this was going to take a while. This wasn’t going to be some drive-thru transaction that would have me in, out, and on my way in no time at all.
Nope. I was asking Dave to hand over one of his most valuable possessions and he had a few questions to ask me first. In all, I spent about 45 minutes talking with my future father-in-law. He grilled me on several fronts:
- What were my short term goals in life?
- Was I going to finish college? What was my major?
- How would I provide for his daughter?
- Did I have every intention of treating her with the respect she deserved?
- Was I fully aware that he’d ALWAYS be her father, ready to protect her at the drop of a hat?
- Was I ready, willing, and able to do the same?
- What were my long term goals?
- Did I love her enough to put her wants and needs above my own?
Sheesh, Dave – what’s up with the third degree?! I just wanted to know if I could marry his daughter – I didn’t know he was going to interrogate me!
Somehow, thankfully, Dave saw through all my flaws and shortcomings and must have seen some potential in me because I left that day with his blessing and a newfound appreciation that the commitment I was about to make, wasn’t to be made lightly.
1 Month Ago
It’s been about 25 years since that first time I knocked on Dave’s door looking for his daughter. A lot has changed in that time, including Dave’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
From his initial diagnosis right up until a few weeks ago Dave had been called the “poster child for pancreatic cancer” – he was doing great! But the first hints that things might be turning south were starting to appear.
Wanting to take full advantage of whatever time we had left with him, we decided to make the thousand mile drive to his house so that we could spend the Easter holiday with our family. It had been a memorable trip, but we were now saying our goodbyes before we hit the road for our long drive back home.
On this day, once again standing near that same front door, Dave didn’t lie to me to make me go away. Instead, he thanked me for visiting, hugged me and told me that he loved me and my family. Earlier that day, I renewed my promise to him that I’d always take care of his daughter, above all else.
3 Days Ago
This past Sunday night I was Face Timing with Dave. Rather, I was Face Timing with others and Dave was in the room, lying on his hospital bed. He couldn’t talk back when I identified myself to him as his favorite son-in-law; I like to tell myself that had he been able to talk back he wouldn’t have corrected me anyway. I knew that Dave’s time on this earth was coming to an end, but I didn’t know that it would be the last time I’d ever speak to him.
Less than 24 hours later, on Memorial Day, Dave passed away. Pancreatic cancer claimed his life, like it does so many others.
This blog is called Get Rich Quick’ish and it focuses heavily on the money side of that name, but a person can become “rich” in non-financial ways as well. If you’re surrounded by friends and loved ones, then I’d say you’re definitely rich! This post isn’t about money, finances, or early retirement – rather it’s a plea to you. I’ve got two asks:
- If you’ve got loved ones in your life, make sure they know it. You don’t need to be all sappy and over the top, but a hug, a kind word, or a good deed will go a long way. Loved ones won’t always be around and one day you’ll wish that you had more time with that person. Well, that person is here today – take advantage of that. If you love someone, let em know it.
- Learn a little bit more about pancreatic cancer. This is a *nasty* cancer with tragically low survival rates. Survival rates increase dramatically through early detection, so please take 2 minutes to learn about the warning signs, and a few other facts.
Pancreatic Cancer Warning Signs:
One reason this cancer is so deadly is because it’s difficult to identify. Many of the warning signs are non-specific, are also common signs for indigestion or heartburn, and don’t manifest themselves until the cancer has progressed.
Unfortunately, by the time it’s obvious that something is wrong, the cancer has moved into stage 3 or 4, is spreading rapidly, and has become terminal. If you suspect anything then go see your doctor. Here are some of the warning signs that you can look for:
- Loss of appetite
- Changes to your bowel movements
- Unexplained weight loss
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty swallowing
- Recently diagnosed with diabetes
Sounds more like the flu than cancer, right? If you’re over 40 years old, or have a history of cancer in your family, and you have any of these symptoms, then please schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Pancreatic Cancer Facts:
- Pancreatic cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US. More people fall victim to this than breast cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer is on pace to become the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the US within a few short years.
- Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of the major cancers. 91% of those diagnosed will pass away within the first five years (a NINE PERCENT survival rate!). 74% will pass within one year of diagnosis (my father-in-law passed away 9 months after his diagnosis).
- Pancreatic cancer is one of the few cancers for which survival rates have not improved meaningfully over the past 40 years.
- Pancreatic cancer survival rates are MUCH better when detected early, but in a cruel twist, there aren’t any early detection screening methods available right now. How’s that for a punch in the face!
What You Can Do
I’m going to ask you to do two things before you leave:
- Please share this post so that others might read it, become aware of pancreatic cancer, learn the signs, and perhaps save their own life through early detection. Is that dramatic? Maybe, but I wish someone would have encouraged my father-in-law get checked out about two years ago. The signs were all there …
- Survival rates are painfully low (they aren’t getting better) and no early detection methods currently exist for this cancer, which will very soon be the #2 cancer killer in the US. There can and should be more cancer research funding for this disease. If you agree, please click this link and sign the petition asking your congressional representative to support more medical funding for research of this cancer.
This post is scheduled to get published while I’ll be driving home to attend my father-in-law’s funeral, so I’ll be slow to respond to comments, but thanks in advance for your support! Cancer sucks – I don’t know what else to say. Thank you for reading this post, and thanks in advance for sharing it.