Christmas Wishes

I have noticed that no-one has posted lately so with things fairly slow here today I thought I would. I took my Family out this week so my Grand Children could talk to Santa. Waiting with them in line I heard countless Children reciting what they want for Christmas. It made me think that there is a difference between wanting something for Christmas and Christmas Wishes, at least to me.  Asking for a gift is just that, a direct request; where as a Christmas Wish, at least in my opinion is something you ask for someone else. A wish that goes a little higher and is heard by whomever you believe is at the top of your personal Prayer chain. I personally believe that wishes and Prayers are taken even more seriously during the Holidays.

I went home and thought about my Christmas list. After reviewing it a few times I went on to thinking about my Wish list. Being in a position of taking care of those in their final days makes this list more important. I sat down and wrote my Christmas Wish list down on paper in the form of Christmas letters to each of those I look out for.  Due to HIPPA laws I can not disclose most of them. But one of those I surely can.  I hope this helps all of those out there today in tremendous pain due to loss of a Friend or a Loved one.

Hello Mike,

I know it is pretty funny writing this to you since 5 minutes ago I was trying to get you to talk. Here it is Christmas time and time for me to write down my Christmas wishes.  I am sure you know what my wish is for you but I still feel compelled to write it down.  My wish for you comes in the form of a letter. A letter inspired by another letter that sparked an editorial that was released in the New York Sun on September 21,1897. One Hundred and Seventeen years ago. The story behind that letter was that 8 year old Virginia O’Hanion asked Her Father if Santa Claus really existed. Her Father, Philip O’Hanion, a Coroner’s Assistant in Manhattan replied that She should write a letter to the New York Sun; reciting that ” if you see it in the sun then it is true.”  Of course, Virginia’s letter was replied to in an editorial that would echo in the hearts of many, even still today with the words, ” yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.”

The long winded back story to this letter is to echo in my own words to you.  “Yes Mike, God is still here.”

I know that lately it has been very hard for you to keep your faith. Many things recently have made it easy for you to believe otherwise, that you are alone in this. The phones very rarely ring now and most of the time you are left to your battle alone. But I wanted to reply to something you had asked. ” Why has God left?” I want you to look at something for a moment.  Many times, People think they are left by God. Many of those are People I deal with daily, but this is true for many as well as many not fighting terminal battles. It is like that if God Him/Her Self doesn’t appear then He/She isn’t there. My belief is that God does exist in the help that He provides. When you wake, screaming in pain and begging for some assistance God is present. He has allowed some of us to become educated in how to administer the relief that will help you. He then has sent us to your side, just for that purpose. When your Wife or Daughter comes to your side to sit with you, comfort you and remind you that you are not alone; it is God that put them there in that position to begin with. I know it is hard to accept and even at times believe. But I have been in many of these rooms over the years and I can tell you that God is present in your room and in my heart I know he will be until it is no longer necessary.  When you are in the throws of the worst of it, a complete feeling of calmness fills the air. Even with all that is happening in those moments inside of you there on the bed, there is a warmth throughout the room. That in my belief is God making his presence known. There is noway to know why things happen and why some of those drag on. We like to make ourselves feel better about ourselves by saying that God gives us nothing we can not handle.  As much as I believe in that it is also hard to rectify why some of those things have to happen at all. What good do they serve? I myself have seen many journeys that fall into this category. But I have also come to believe that there are times when pain and torment have to be endured to cross to the other side. Our illnesses and injuries sometimes just demand it. It is that simple. It is not the concept of being left behind. It is the process that is intended to eventually leave us in peace for Eternity, there on the other side.  Sometimes these processes are momentary and sometimes much longer. But I can assure you based on things I have seen and felt, God is there.

God is there in the form of those around you , he is there in the form of the solitary light, there in the middle of the night. He is there in the darkness that surrounds your body and in your mind. Sometimes in the middle of those worst incidents I have seen you suddenly stop from screaming and break out in laughter. That is God, giving you a moment within those hardest of times. I have seen the smile on your face, even through the pain when a Loved one enters the room. That is also God. There have been times I have witnessed you, laying there in pain, screaming and begging for this to end. Suddenly you would be in peace, calmly humming under your voice and reciting over and over, ” Thank You.”  These are the times that God has sent your most precious Angel to comfort you.

As we draw closer to Christmas I know that the present you request the most is peace and closure. To not feel alone.  My Christmas wish for you is this letter to hopefully help to remind you and maybe even answer a few questions that you are not alone. Not at all.

Yes Mike, God is still here.  He is right there with you every minute of every day.

Merry Christmas



Giving Thanks

Mike has blogged every year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Unfortunately, this year Mike will not be able to blog or even dictate. This year a few of us will be doing it for him if that is ok.

Thanksgiving. A special day. A time of year to give acknowledgment for all that we are thankful for. It would be so easy to not be thankful. Instead; it would be easier to remember all that is bad. This last year has been full of the second. Dad lays there in pain all the time now. Most of the time he cries out in pain or is asleep. This is the first time I have written in months due to all the issues and accusations. Many that Dad has known or come to know through the creation of Curing Cancer with a Smile have left us this past year. Some of those not even Adults. Many have left the group due to issues. Some very close to Dad no longer have contact with him. It would be so easy to dwell on those. Instead; I give Thanks. I am thankful to those that are still there in the group. Thankful to those that have stuck by my Dad and still message and call him; regardless. I am thankful for my Family and the way that we have all bonded together even in the face of many obstacles this last year. I give thanks for my Dad. Thankful that even with all the pain; all the torment.  He is still here one more time.  Anna

I echo the previous. It is very easy to focus on the bad. I have been party to circumstances like these more times than I care to remember. But I always remember the good.  Those caring faces, smiling and supportive right up until the end. The hand holding. In some cases even singing. The hugging and the praying. These are the moments in end of life care that I choose to remember. These are the moments I give thanks for. Thankful that as the end draws near that all the sorrow and pain subside for a time to send their Loved one on with remembrance and reminders of what the Family has meant and shared.                                                    Dave

Thanksgiving is a special time. It is a  time for reflection. Spending time this last week Mike has had much reflection. Happily I can say it has been good remembrances. No longer clinging to those negative memories of the past. He is only looking forward now with happy memories. He was telling me a story the other day of Thanksgiving on Okinawa. He was about 10 and they were living off base in a Japanese village waiting for Base Housing. He remembered getting up in the morning and not feeling any different. Everything was like any other day. The Children were playing outside. There were no decorations.That evening  his Family loaded up in the car and headed to the base. Kadena Air Force Base. Entering the gates he said he still feels the warmth seeing the scarecrows and the pumpkins and turkey decorations everywhere. They headed over to the Chief’s Club where the entire Family was welcome to come inside. There was a Holiday Buffet set up and the tv was on the Armed Forces Network. ( This was 1972) for a presentation of the Macy’s Day parade from that morning.  Mike recalled that day with such vividness and joy. That is what I am thankful for today. That even with all he is facing he can still recall his happiness. Moments that he can crawl up inside when the worst of the worst comes.              Ken

In putting this together Mike says “Happy Thanksgiving”.  “It is better to recall the good memories and leave the bad ones in the past where they belong”.  MST 11/24/14

Expired Expiration’s

There are a few of us that spend quality time with Mike now.  We spend more time watching him than talking with him but we still have some good conversations. One of the things I have come to admire are these blogs and their purpose.  I think it is quite important to get a behind the scenes look into these terrible diseases. I personally feel that what has been given here is peace of mind for Family Members that have watched from the sidelines. We are going to keep these blogs going. In some cases they are Mikes’ words; in others they are our perspectives. There are people here now that a lot of insight to Mikes’ personal battle; others with the medical intuitions. We are hoping this will help to give multiple views to different issues from here on in.

My name is Dave and I have gotten close to Mike in the last year.  Talking with him this morning I told him that a few of us wanted to start blogging to help. He was shocked but humbled and gave his consent. Occasionally I like to test Mike on things and this morning I was no different. I challenged him to give me a blog title and I would write an article about it. He smiled and gave me expired expiration’s.  It has taken me a bit to come up with one. We don’t all write as quick as he does but I think I have it figured out from a medical point of view. And yes, you will read familiarity in this blog because I made him help.

We all know what happens to milk when it surpasses its expiration date; it curdles.  Bread grows moldy. Almost everything now has an expiration date, and at some point all their effectiveness starts to dwindle. Batteries don’t last as long and light bulbs will just blow out when you install them. But what about Humans? What happens to those that surpass a given terminal time frame? Many feel that when someone is given a time frame and outlasts it that it is due to a missed diagnosis. That can most assuredly be the case at times. Doctors don’t just rely on tests when diagnosing. They also go on Patient history as well as in depth interviews with the Patients and their Families. Some times inaccurate information can lead to these diagnosis. Some times it is driven will power that propels a Patient and sometimes it just happens that way.

But in most cases it is just the date that is inaccurate, not the diagnosis. The end does come. Sometimes in weeks and sometimes years, but it comes. In our case it isn’t an inaccurate diagnosis but a dual diagnosis that we just don’t have answers to. But again, it is coming. Talking as an outsider that has spent many conversations with Mike I can tell you that the prolonged lingering has taken its toll. It has done a number on most of his organs. The body isn’t made to take prolonged torture. And living with Cancer is torture; plain and simple. Cells begin to deplete. Arteries harden. Organs begin to weaken. Now take into account that we are dealing primarily with the brain. As different areas of the brain begin to weaken, different effects begin to happen. Spasms, Convulsions, Temper Tantrums, Memory Loss and of course Hallucinations.

For Mike I have witnessed a lot of the damage coming from the inside. This illness has damaged his soul even more than his body. Mike no longer believes in hell. He believes this is it. That the more work you have to do to ” right ” yourself the longer you have to stay here. He feels he is being punished for the life he has led. He still believes in God but believes that God hates him, and there isn’t a way to change his mind. Some days are better than others. He has his good days which for him are the days now that he feels he is close to ending. His bad days are the days he concludes this will continue on. On those days he doesn’t speak. He has no interactions with anyone; he just lays there in bed, sometimes cursing under his breath. The only one with the ability on those days to bring him out of his funk is his Wife; Jennifer. But even that doesn’t usually last. He has expressed feelings of feeling cursed. Feelings of feeling forgotten. Those that have read many of his blogs know his biggest hot spot is from those that don’t believe at times. This has become an even bigger issue because these days to not believe is just another way of robbing him. Robbing him of the admiration of coping with a living hell the way he does.

We will sit down with him now, asking what he would like to do today. His answer now is ” die “. It takes a special person to be able to handle a conversation with him now. I have seen some come from having a conversation with him and describe him as being so negative and surrounded by doom and gloom. I have explained to them that it is what completely giving up looks like. When dealing with a Loved one it is often easier to project our wishes rather than truly see theirs. It is easier to wish for recovery than for an end. Mike loves to remind everyone that you would put a horse out of its misery. He even jokes at times that many have called him a jack ass, so why not treat him like a wounded jack ass and put him out of his misery. Of course that is for another blog later. He still has his sense of humor at times.

I asked him how he wanted me to close this. I really am not good at this. He smiled that wicked smile of his and told me to repeat this exactly as he said it to me.

” Life sucks. Dying is worse. But being part of the living dead is not a tv show. It is a curse”.

Personal Choices.

It has been awhile since a subject has come along that Mike has felt the need to write about. A long while. But today when he woke and we told him about yesterdays’ passionate ending and all the debate over it, Mike informed us that he needed to write his blog. So with a few of us helping thru out the day we have been able to help him put out this posting.

I want to set the mood today before writing my Dads words. He continues to slide now. He is in bed almost all the time. His memory is not at all what it should be. We are continually having to remind him of who anyone is. The pain can get pretty devastating at times. When Dad starts to scream you can see Riley put his hands over his ears; just not willing to hear it anymore.  Dad is a lot more exhausted than normal right now. He insisted on going out for about an hour on Halloween and it really took a lot out of him. This morning I sat down to read him his emails and catch him up on the happenings in his online group. I explained to him that Brittany Maynard; 29 years old with GBM ended Her life yesterday.  GBM is short for Glioblastoma Multiforme; Terminal Brain Cancer.  My Dad’s cancer. He smiled and said; ” Good for Her.”  I didn’t think he had heard me right so I said it again and he said he understood and was happy for her. I asked him to explain and he said that he was happy that she was able to take control of her own life and give herself the dignified ending she deserved.  I told him how there was a lot of debate going on online over it. He looked at me and I could see a spark grow in his eyes for the first time in awhile. He just pointed to the computer and said; ” I want to blog.”  Of course Dad doesn’t blog or write anymore. But we helped him today and this is his blog.

I have been hearing today how many are up in arms over Brittany’s decision to end things. I think it is hard to really understand if you aren’t in those shoes.  I have often written about things stating that if you don’t have cancer you really wouldn’t get it. But I have to say now, with this, if you aren’t struggling thru with GBM then you really can’t make an informed decision.  Many look at that word, Suicide and that makes the decision for them.  I have read a bunch of comments online today over this issue and realized right off that a lot of these comments were made by people touched quite closely by suicide. Especially here in our town.  There is a big difference between Suicide and Passionate Endings as I now have everyone calling them.  Suicide: To end ones life during a time of dreadful sorrow and depression, cutting short ones life, in many cases long before they even have the chance to live.  I myself am horrified by this and fight to educate against making such a rash decision.  But, Passionate Endings: With the right knowledge and counseling, making an informed Family Decision to take back the control that a Terminal Illness has taken away. The ability to choose not to go thru the suffering or pain, the ability to choose to not put ones Family thru anymore pain and suffering.  That decision I stand by completely.

The biggest problem today with Cancer Awareness and trying to get others on the same page is that everyone has an opinion, although not always do they have the first hand knowledge or education and experience. That in itself makes for some pretty uncomfortable conversations when discussing the feelings of the suffering. Those that read my blogs know just how passionate I have been when it comes to the way Sufferers are treated.  They are second-guessed, ridiculed, talked about and called names.  All of this due to the inability to put ones self in their shoes.  I myself thought I could ” fix ” this by educating. By blogging and starting an awareness group to let those whom wanted to hear to be able to do so from the lips of those that experience this hell daily.  It didn’t work anymore than any other attempt by others. 

But this is something completely different than that.  I know it is a sensitive subject. But once you get past whether you believe someone or not and actually start to see, it becomes more evident of the suffering that they go thru.  I myself thought I knew suffering.  Thought I knew pain.  But things that are happening now make the last few years look like a party.  The pain is unbearable.  The only way to get thru it is to sleep thru it, drug induced.  A constant sleep. Other meds are needed for other issues. Pressure, Mood Swings, Blood Pressure, Blood Thickening, Blood Thinning. Getting the picture?  Your memories come and go. You wonder at times if the next time they leave, they will be gone for good.  You can’t do common tasks without help from someone.  Things that used to mortify you and embarrass you completely are now daily occurrences. Asking your Teen Age Daughter for help off the toilet. Being bathed by a Family Member.  Being spoon fed on those days you are so exhausted you can’t even lift your arm.  You lay in bed daily watching the World pass right on by.  Life has already stopped for you. It’s just that you aren’t gone yet, but you sure aren’t living either. But everyone around you still is.  That is when you start to look at the other side of it.  Your Family works. They have their own lives.  Their own Families.  They go on dates.  They go to concerts and sporting events. They watch tv. They interact with each other.  All of this that is, when they aren’t needed in someway by you.  You have trouble catching your breath and go into a coughing attack and suddenly as if automatically the room is filled with every Family Member in the house, all taking their places in the pre-conceived drill knowing just what their part is to help you start to breathe again.  And that includes at 2 AM.  No one in the Family sleeps soundly anymore.  You think that these are the reasons that Hospice was created. So the Family wouldn’t have to deal with these burdens.  Wrong.  It doesn’t matter.  On my bad nights, sometimes the Family beats them into the room. 

You begin to think that living, as little as it is is really a selfish act.  You begin to think that it isn’t fair to continue putting the Family thru this.  The thing about GBM. Ends come swiftly.  But they can also come agonizingly slow. Those of you dealing with emotions over yesterday’s story would be quite surprised to hear from GBM Family Members and their feelings.  One of my own Daughters was completely against Passionate Endings or Assisted Suicides.  You noticed I said, was.  I know from the Religious point of view, suicide is suicide and is wrong.  I get that.  But I know what it is like to live in the body and mind of a GBM Sufferer.  You notice I didn’t say ” Survivor”.  You know why?  Because living each day with GBM isn’t surviving and it isn’t living.  Oh, and one last thing.   There aren’t any survivors.  Glioblastoma Multiforme is 100 percent fatal.  It can come in weeks or months.  But it can also take years, but it always comes.  For me, 7 years now.  There are some going on 12 and 13 years, although not the normal.  People should not be judged over decisions that they make by others that don’t walk in the same shoes.  The final days of GBM are violent.  They are inhumane.  They are even harder to watch.  Uncontrolled bleeding.  Loss of appetite for days. Days of starving and the inability to swallow ones own saliva. Having to be suctioned out every few minutes so as not to drown.  Pain so bad that even in a comatose medicated state the pain can be felt and heard by those around.Violent uncontrolled flailing.  This is what the end looks like.  I myself can not blame someone and their Family for choosing not to go that way.  To hug their Loved ones.  To spend time laying in bed with them around.  To take a drink of water, take some pills and lay down and go to sleep.  That is a ” Passionate Ending.”

Mike wasn’t able to write this today.  He was however able to dictate.  These were his words on a subject extremely close to his heart and he wanted to share it with the World.  This was not meant to demean anyone’s feelings on the subject. Just the opinion of one that walks that same walk, feels those same feelings, and today is celebrating the passing and peace of Brittany Maynard.

Dying vs Living. I think I’ll take the Reaper !!


I have been asked a lot over the last six years what it feels like to die from a terminal illness.  Of course anyone that knows me knows that I have always had an answer. Sometimes more than anyone has bargained for. I am starting to realize that it is actually the wrong question. It should be ” what does it feel like to LIVE with a terminal illness.”  Trust me, that one is a lot trickier to do.

One of the hardest parts I have found is to not let your illness define you. Unfortunately for me I preach better than I practice. I have been ” that guy with cancer”, I have been ” that guy crying for attention”, and I have been ” that cancer awareness dude.”  Funny thing, I am 52. I am a Husband and a Father and a Brother as well as a Grand Father. I am a Veteran of the United States Naval Submarine Service, a Retired Chef and Bakery Manager as well as a Retired Cake Decorator. Not just that guy with cancer.  But it is so hard to not let it become that. Every thought in your head is about cancer and death, in time, it becomes all you are associated with. I know a lot of people are going to scream at my next statement, but I think I have earned the right so I am going to go ahead and say it. Cancer, as much as it shouldn’t be around at all, should at the very least be short term, not long term. We are just not equipped to handle the physical, mental and emotional that goes with this for long periods of time. That’s the challenge I think. Marathons, not sprints.

I am a pretty good example of this I think. GBM or Glioblastoma Multiforme, is a terminal and ALWAYS fatal form of Brain Cancer.  The average length of life is 18 months.  That’s right.  The AVERAGE!!  I was diagnosed 6 years ago. 4 times the average. But not the record by far. At present, the longest surviving GBM stage IV patient is at 14 years!  Over twice as long as me. ( Lord help him.)  The problem with outlasting diagnosis’s is that many that are your friends and even some family all of a sudden realize they have a degree in Oncology and Neurology and have no problem calling you out. You are a liar. You are seeking attention. You can’t be sick. Trust me, it happens. When my call out came, which had nothing to do with Cancer, my online group went from 1800 to 500, just like that. 4 months later and most people from my town still aren’t talking to me or acknowledging me on facebook. I had to deal with sneers and jeers and whispers as well as questioned on my illness from friends, family and even the legal community. My Oldest had to change her shifts at work and my Youngest Daughter turned to home schooling to get away from all the bullying. My oldest had someone at work say that ” to her it didn’t make sense at all.”  The part that didn’t make sense was a Nurses Aid becoming a Diagnostician. Oh, and the fact that she had never met me.  I had People saying that they talked to Doctor’s and 18 months was the extreme. No, 18 months is the average. But this isn’t a post about me. It is about the trouble you run into, on top of being sick obviously that comes with Living, instead of dying from cancer.

As your cancer cells multiply and grow, your Friends list shrinks. A lot to do with that pesky HIS syndrome. ( He isn’t sick.)  And some because they just can’t keep going thru something so awful year after year.  Everyone seems to have opinions. Here is a bit of my vast knowledge from experience.  If you start to slide and death is around the corner, well, pray it comes. Don’t you dare start begging for another day or hope that you will bounce back. Yup, it’s the HIS syndrome again. Near death experiences are not accepted with cancer patients. You slip and then rise, you aren’t sick. And we aren’t even talking in this blog about the incredible mind fornication that you live with each day feeling your energy wain and wondering if today is the day. Feeling a fever coming on and wondering if another stroke is in the daily to do list.

Then there is living each day realizing there is something new you can’t do that you could yesterday. It might come back, and then again it might not. To put it bluntly, my take is this.

If you are diagnosed with a terminal form of cancer or any other illness, start praying.  Pray that 2 years from today you aren’t here.  It is the best possible outcome.

Sitting down with Mike. October 1,2014

I have seen some very sad things. Sometimes I look at something and I just want to cry. That was today going to see Mike. He is completely broken. He has no determination to do anything. Only a few outside the house communicate with him. Many of those he considers Children have not contacted and even a few of his actual Kids. These days Anna and Mikayla keep him going. Without them I think he would shrivel up in a corner and be finished. He gets upset and obsessed about things real easy and once he starts he doesn’t let go. Sometimes he will repeat the same sentence 6 or 7 times like a record skipping. I asked him about his Doctor appointment on Monday and he just sighed and said that now they want to fit him with a heart event monitor fearing his ticker might be giving in to all the strain. He was pale today and his eyes were still dim. He continued to talk about missing people. Any of you that have been close to Mike and haven’t been in touch recently and want to he can sure use the distractions. There has been a bunch of ups and downs lately and a quick email can be a big distraction. If you don’t have it his email address is  . I know he would love to hear from people. We went through our normal how are you type conversations and I asked how everyone else was doing. He told me that Anna turned 23 yesterday and is on her 4th straight 12 hour shift tonight but will get a break and be home with him tomorrow. Tyler is running right along with football. Kayla is maintaining a 4.0 with her home schooling and Jenn has been busy with work.  You can see that he has a lot on his mind but is keeping it to himself. I fear that he is starting to shut down. I will write again next week.

Sitting down with Mike

I have been friends with Mike for many years now. Lately I have sat with him almost daily and posted on his support page a small update into his day. I realized that his blog has suffered. He has not been up to writing as of late and Anna no longer wants to write because of problems in the past. It dawned on me that I could do a small blog although I have not the writing skill that they have. But I can try. The other day we were hanging out in the bedroom and I asked him if he had any regrets about making his sickness public. He smiled with that weary and run down look that he has gotten lately and said that he did not regret it at all. He admitted that he wish it had been different. That all of the problems that arose could have been done without. But he also said that in trying to show awareness to exactly what Cancer Patients and others who suffer chronic unseen illnesses go through that the denial and accusations and anger thrown their way was probably the best illustration that could be witnessed by so many. It was  bad in my view that the family had to suffer the way they did.  In Mikes time of need so many close to him either left his side or stepped back into a silent existence.  Because of that a few of us stepped up our presence. From the point of view of someone on the outside I hope that many of those who gave into the temptation of doubt do not someday regret it. Mike was able to keep going for a few months on pure anger and adrenaline but now he is beginning to show signs that he is once again back on track. Only this time without a lot of the support that he has tried to rally for the cause of cancer. I ask him daily how he feels. Now he does not answer that question anymore. He just gives a impatient glare. I asked why it seems to bother him so much and his answer was that there really wasn’t anything good to say about how he feels daily now so instead of going on about his pains and aches he would rather just ignore it. I told him that many ask only to show concern and support and he said that he understood but that he chose to move past the question instead of facing the reminder. I asked if there was a better question I could ask and he said no there wasn’t but that there was a statement I could make if I really wanted to show him I was there. When I asked what that statement was he smiled and said when I walk in the door all I need to do is remind him I am still here. That has been the extent of our talks lately. He has been to weak and exhausted. Most of his time is spent laying either in bed or the couch watching tv with the kids. He is still having quite the battle with his blood pressure and breathing issues. Many hours are now spent with assisted breathing devices to help with comfort.  Before I end I did want to say this. Looking at him now there is the lack of that bright glow he has always had in his eyes. Personally I do not feel that this is due to his health as much as it is a repercussion from all the extra battles and issues he has had to face with friends and acquaintances on the net. I hate seeing him lay there now when he rests. So defeated and looking so alone. No longer the stamina to sit and talk on the phone even if it rang. No emails of support or messages of support for us to read to him. Mike used to write about Mr C and the Reaper. Now it seems that they are the only ones that fill his time. I will continue to write about our talks and his health when I can.