01/27/1947 — 09/16/2009
My father was a man of few words, unless of course those words related to skiing, cycling, fishing, or his flying table saw. I suppose that’s why it was never shocking when he put off going to the doctor to have a suspicious mole checked. The mole was pink, raised, and looked more like an ingrown hair.
My mother told me he had skin cancer via email, because at the time nobody thought it was a big deal. Unfortunately, we were VERY wrong.
By the end of the summer of 2008, we realized we were dealing with something more serious than we had ever expected. Dad went through every treatment imaginable that the doctors would allow him to have. Fortunately, he was in such good shape that he hung in longer than most with melanoma as aggressive as his.
By Christmas of 2008, we found out that the melanoma had spread not just to his lungs, but possibly elsewhere in his body. In the months to come, Dad fought harder than any of us realized. It was summer before he even truly looked “sick”.
In September, things got worse. He was admitted to the hospital for what was thought to be “a touch of pneumonia” — we now know it was the cancer in his lungs and countless other organs.
Dad would probably be embarrassed that I am sharing so many details about his illness because he didn’t want anyone to ever pity him. He didn’t want me to be upset or cry (even when they found cancer in his brain).
I am sharing his story for two reasons. First, I want others to be aware how quickly melanoma can spread so they will get checked regularly. Second, I want the world to know how proud I am of my father for his bravery. Even though we knew he was, he never admitted to being afraid.
To his dying day he protected us. When I spoke with him on the phone the evening before his death, he told me he felt “pretty good”.
I love you, Dad. You will always be my hero.