Friday, November 21, 2014


To my son Tommy,

The official prognosis for your Grandpa Leo is 14.6 months with treatment. For the stage four cancer that he has (called glioblastoma multiforme or GBM) that is the median survival rate. Median means half of them do better than that rate and half of them do worse. They said your Grandpa Leo has a special enzyme that is most commonly found in long term survivors of GBM and that could push his personal prognosis out to three or even five years.

You might think this information would change everything. It doesn't really. Sure your grandfather will have to undergo radiation and chemo starting around the middle of December with scans to watch for tumor growth, but that is just an extra chore and he is looking forward to his daily trips to Johns Hopkins using the subway. Sure your grandfather will get tired from the treatments, but he already really enjoys naps and this will give him an excuse to take a couple more every day. Sure your Grandpa Leo knows what will most likely be the cause of his death, but that doesn't change much either because he always was aware he was going to die someday as that is part of the terminal illness called life. And, he still doesn't really know when things will happen as he (like Han Solo in the quote above) often defies all odds.

But the day to day for your Grandfather won't change much. He will still care for your great grandpa and great grandma as a dutiful son does. He will still suffer and complain (with love) about long shopping trips and crazy ass requests as a dedicated husband does. He will still be a wonderful father who constantly teaches his son through words and examples, no matter how old his son is, the importance of living a life worth living and how to vanquish the fear of death. He will still be a great father-in-law who always wanted a daughter as well and is enjoying still learning what having a great daughter is all about. He will still be a loving grandfather who no doubt will be a cohort in crime for some mischief and bonding with his grandson, who he will watch turn 6 and 7 and, God willing, 8 and 9 and 10 or more. Just like before, every joke he says will be corny, every prayer he prays will be heartfelt and most likely for others, every hug he gives will be sincere, and every moment of his life will be as precious as every moment that has passed, good times and bad equally. So though all our lives have a new wrinkle added, things really aren't much different than before. So let's just keep on keeping on and loving every moment.

Sincerely with love from your dad,

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