In 1981, my dad had told me that he was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer. After exploratory surgery, the doctors had told my dad that he had six months to live.
I enjoyed my time with my dad after I learned of his cancer. My dad and I went out to eat. We watched the San Francisco 49ers on television and went to Candlestick Park to watch the San Francisco Giants.
In early 1984, my mom told me that Howard Abrams, our family friend, had liver cancer. She told me that liver cancer was particularly deadly. She said that I could go see Howard at University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center (UCSF Medical Center), if I wanted to see him before he died. I now had two people close to me with a cancer diagnosis, and I was just 21 years old.
I drove up to San Francisco in my Datsun station wagon. UCSF Medical Center was about an hour drive to the north from Silicon Valley where I was born and still live.
I was shocked when I saw Howard. His hair was patchy. His skin had a yellow color from bile from his liver I think. Howard’s watch dangled loosely around his wrist, because he had lost so much weight.
Howard and I chatted for about an hour or so. He seemed to accept his coming death, even though he had a wife and two small children.
In April 1984, one day my mom told me that Howard had died.
In June 1984, I was driving to the Oregon Coast for a vacation as I was on summer break from West Valley College. I left work at 10:00pm and drove up highway 101 all night until I reached Crescent City, a few miles from the California and Oregon border, where I ate breakfast. After eating, I called my mom to let her know I was safe. My mom said, “Your dad died last night. His heart stopped in the middle of the night.”
Why do bad things happen? I do not know! Cancer seems to be a terrible disease for patients as well as families and friends to endure.
Please watch this video by Janet Childs about what to say to someone who has cancer: