When we were kids, life was so simple – we played, we went to school, our parents took care of all of our needs, and we didn’t know about life, the world, or heartaches and pain. We certainly did not know about disease and death. My son and his cousins had to say goodbye to their uncle yesterday after watching his two-month ordeal with peritoneal mesothelioma, a disease that none of them could even pronounce. In my brother’s case, the disease was so far advanced that he barely had a fighting chance.
In the moments when he took his last breaths, his family was all around him so he wasn’t alone. This is the hardest thing we have ever done and the hardest thing we will ever do. We did everything we could to save his life but we understand that it was his time. For thirty-one years, he was my brother and every life he touched, he made better. He was kind and he was very humble and I think that is what I loved the most about him. He took care of my mother better than any of us did and he never forgot his sisters or his nieces and nephews.
The day that he went into surgery, which was the next day after his diagnosis, he never once said he didn’t want to die. What he said was that he accepted it but what he wanted was to be around his family and when he took his last breaths, we were all around him praying for his smooth passage into God’s arms. From the day he had his surgery and until the day before he passed, we did everything we could to show him we loved him and that we supported him but as he knew, we also knew that this day was coming.
I don’t know what life is going to be without him but I know that we don’t have a chance. I know that our number one priority right now is Mom and getting her through this. In addition, my son and his cousins need us to help them get through this because their lives are just as affected as ours are. When I was ten, my uncle (Dad’s brother) died but my parents sheltered me that his death did not affect as much as I know that my brother’s will affect my son. My son visited his uncle in the hospital nearly every day and understood that his uncle would succumb to his illness and I know that this will have an impact on him for the rest of his life. While I wish that I could have protected him, I know that he needed to be around his uncle and I know his uncle needed him and my sisters knew that the same was best for their kids as well.
I know that our lives have changed and they will never be the same after this. What I know more than anything is how important family is. Every day we get opportunities to love our families that we don’t always take. We never really know how important those opportunities are until they are taken from us.
Today is a new beginning for all of us. We are embarking on this upcoming journey forever changed. We know how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken from us. My brother was 31 years old but God called him home and while we don’t always understand these things, they are not for us to question. We will never forget him and we never forget how brave he was against the most evil enemy out there: cancer.
Peritoneal Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer of the peritoneum. It is also a very painful and fatal disease. It is result of exposure to occupational and environmental asbestos exposure. Moreover, there is very little knowledge out there about it and very few specialists who understand how it works. Often times, it is diagnosed in its very latest stages giving patients and doctors little hope for its treatment options. The only way that we can find answers, find better ways to treat it and to save lives is through research. Please donate the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF) at curemeso.org. While this disease did not spare my brother, others can be spared through the research that MARF is doing.