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10 October 2008

sad... [More:]

just got the below email from an adored former director at my workplace. He took leave back in June owing to health problems (leukemia, which has apparently become terminal). I worked with him for several months on a companywide quality project last winter/spring. He was a good dude to work for, and I liked his wife a lot too when I met her at a couple functions. I was amazed at how much energy and motivation he had throughout the project, despite how sick he was rumoured to be at the time. It may sound cliche but this is one of the closest group of colleagues I've ever worked with, and I'm genuine friends with most of them. S was a very kind, intelligent manager with a wicked sense of humour. His wife is about my age and they have kids in high school. I cannot fathom her pain.

Our company is a major manufacturer for cancer drugs, hence the references.

and yea, fuck cancer. 52 is too young to die.

Dear Colleagues,

This is a very difficult email to write, but I need to let you know that I have made a major decision. After nine months of treatment with every option the doctors could think of, the graft vs. host disease has not been controlled. At this point in time, there is essentially no chance that the GVHD will be controlled. Without GVHD under control, there is no hope for long term survival. Because of this, I have chosen to go home. While going home sounds like a good thing, the consequence of going home now is that my condition will deteriorate due to the GVHD and I will pass away in the near future. We will maintain where I am at right now as long a possible, but will call in hospice when that time comes. We don't know how long that time will be, but probably measured in weeks and not months. I will spend that time with C as we complete the journey of our life together and C faces the rest of hers.

I want to thank all of you for the opportunity to work with you. It was truly a privilege. I am proud of what I was able to accomplish in a short time. I really thank [Mfg. Director] for carrying our vision to fruition. I was able to work on some of [Company's] most important medications. I talked to one of the transplant doctors last week about [New Drug]. He said he had lost a couple of patients who couldn't tolerate [Old Drug]. When you talk to patients and doctors, it makes you realize what an important role we have. I think I made some good contributions in my nearly 20 years with [Company]. All I would ask is that you carry on with the dedication you have shown so that we continue to save lives.

May God bless you and keep you safe.

What a powerful letter. Hugs to you.
posted by Stewriffic 10 October | 13:40
I'm so sorry that your friend is dying.

You've been very lucky to have had such a friend. He sounds like a very strong, very positive guy.

posted by jason's_planet 10 October | 13:43
I am sorry. Yeah, 52 is far too young. I heard this week of someone who died aged 56. Of Alzheimer's. Fucking Alzheimer's. It started a couple of years ago with him forgetting his keys and not being able to do the crossword any more.
posted by essexjan 10 October | 13:43
Heartbreaking. So sorry.
posted by Hellbient 10 October | 14:05
Fuck 2008. Fuck it, fuck it, fuck it.
posted by eamondaly 10 October | 14:17
I am so sorry.

Cancer is totally evil. Totally.
posted by bunnyfire 10 October | 14:18
Damn, that's a moving letter. My heart breaks for his poor wife.

Yes, cancer is a horrible, evil thing.
posted by BoringPostcards 10 October | 14:29
oh no. *hugs*
posted by divabat 10 October | 16:04

owing to weird inconsistencies in the mailing / forward structure (I am still a contractor, so not on the main distro. list here) the above letter from S was circulated on Monday afternoon.

we just got an announcement from the site manager that S passed away last night.

three days. three fucking days to cope with the inevitable and say goodbye to his loved ones, and the disease took him just like that. so unbelievable. thank god he didn't linger in pain, but still.

Seriously, it was just a couple months ago that he was joking with us about how he'd had to have all his suits taken in (he was positively skeletal by the time he finally took medical leave)... and that this was actually A Good Thing, because now his son could quit playing WoW and go wear them on some job interviews. And then he'd talk about stuff like how much he looked forward to the next ski season. Jesus.

a ray of... I don't know, hope, synchronicity, bizarre coincidence or just plain irony: apparently last night while S was breathing his last, another of our colleagues went into labor and delivered her first son, 13 days early. This isn't a big site since the layoffs, maybe 150 employees tops, and A was the only one expecting, so even though I'm not (that) superstitious, that one rated high on my spook meter.

seriously, thanks to you all. I know I'm rambling and not making sense, but go give your kids and partners a hug or something. life's a fragile thing.
posted by lonefrontranger 10 October | 18:03
Such a dignified letter. I should be so dignified when the day comes. I'm more the stamp-my-feet, no-no-I-won't-go types.

Sorry to lose such an obviously great person in this world.
posted by Pips 10 October | 19:14
So sorry to hear this. We got a similar email the day before yesterday from someone quite a few steps up the food chain from me and, although I don't know him well, the courage that it takes to write something like that, while nothing compared to the courage it takes to face it, is admirable and I feel for the families of both involved.

Be strong.
posted by dg 10 October | 19:23
lfr, I know I only know you a little bit, so perhaps a little grain of salt might be in order here, but I do think I have a pretty good feel for people so I don't think I'm totally out of line.

You have this tough exterior, and for your cycling passion, that's essential, but you're about the most sensitive person I have ever met when it comes to other folks and their life struggles, battles and successes. There's not a lot of people I'd blindly trust when it comes to people, but you are one.

I feel for you, and wish I could help you here. Your description makes me wish I had met this man. We get to meet just a few really good people in this world, and you're lucky you got to know one of them. I always wonder why it seems that the good people have to die young. I have no idea why myself, and I'll never understand if there's meaning in our lives. I will understand that the things we care for are fleeting, so we need to make them precious to us.

In order to make this all about me, I had a bit of the synchronicity thing in my own life. My oldest brother's first child died at 11 months. His wife miscarried after, and there wasn't any hope for any children as much as they wanted them. They got into a private adoption thing, and the girl who was pregnant hadn't decided whom she wanted her baby to go to, and my brother had no hope. The girl went into labor more than a month early, and at the last minute chose my brother's family to adopt the child. My niece was born a year to the day that my niece Bailey died. It's hard to ignore the coincidence there, and I do think there's something to be said for all that.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend, lfr. Hang in there, and a big hug for you!
posted by eekacat 10 October | 19:57
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