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My Best Friend is Dying. How do I Help Him and His Family? (1 Viewer)

ekbeats

Footballguy
He had a tumor removed a few weeks ago and the pathology report just came back - Glioblastoma IDH wild type WHO Grade 4.  I've been in a state of shock all day so I've been unable to process what the prognosis is.  I researched it for about 20 minutes, and what I saw was so dire that I just tuned out.  This guy is my childhood friend - he is my childhood.  We were best friends from K-12.  Love him like a brother.  I got the news today and from 9-5 I totally ignored it so I could concentrate on work.  But as soon as work ended the flood-gates opened.  

I lost touch with him the last 15 years.  Life.  I never stopped thinking about him, and always referred to him as "my favorite person on the planet."  He made me laugh more than anyone else.  Over time I've realized what a precious gift that is.  I reached out to his wife tonight and said I would love to go down to Florida and visit them.  I feel like a heel for not keeping in touch with him the last 15 years.  Regret is one of the consistent themes of my life.  But enough about me - that's not important.  I want to help my friend, his wife and his children.  How do I talk to him about all this?  Should I ignore it all and make him feel happy with fond memories?  I don't know what to do.  I'm asking all of you for your collective wisdom.  And your support.  This diagnosis has shaken my world and challenged my beliefs in a benevolent God.  Please give me your thoughts.  I really do value your opinions.  Thanks.

 
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Galileo

Footballguy
Knowing this news, you will regret it for the rest of your life if you don't re-connect.  Do it.  Don't worry about it. Remember, he did the same thing as you for the last 15 years, so don't blame yourself for the past.  Go...catch up on old times...offer your friendship and support for the time he has remaining.  

 

bigbottom

I put on my robe and wizard hat
He had a tumor removed a few weeks ago and the pathology report just came back - Glioblastoma IDH wild type WHO Grade 4.  I've been in a state of shock all day so I've been unable to process what the prognosis is.  I researched it for about 20 minutes, and what I saw was so dire that I just tuned out.  This guy is my childhood friend - he is my childhood.  We were best friends from K-12.  Love him like a brother.  I got the news today and from 9-5 I totally ignored it so I could concentrate on work.  But as soon as work ended the flood-gates opened.  

I lost touch with him the last 15 years.  Life.  I never stopped thinking about him, and always referred to him as "my favorite person on the planet."  He made me laugh more than anyone else.  Over time I've realized what a precious gift that is.  I reached out to his wife tonight and said I would love to go down to Florida and visit them.  I feel like a heel for not keeping in touch with him the last 15 years.  Regret is one of the consistent themes of my life.  But enough about me - that's not important.  I want to help my friend, his wife and his children.  How do I talk to him about all this?  Should I ignore it all and make him feel happy with fond memories?  I don't know what to do.  I'm asking all of you for your collective wisdom.  And your support.  This diagnosis has shaken my world and challenged my beliefs in a benevolent God.  Please give me your thoughts.  I really do value your opinions.  Thanks.
Go. Catch up. Reminisce. Laugh. Cry. Most importantly, do not let not knowing what to say or do lead you to not doing or saying anything. Go. 

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
Damn, sorry GB.  I don't have any great words of wisdom, other than I hope you can make your way to Florida, and life is too short to spend it on regret.

 

foxco

Footballguy
So sorry to hear this. If you can, just be there. In person, on the phone, video chat, whatever.  Maybe let him lead how much he wants to discuss but let him know you're there for him in whatever capacity he needs. 

When my good buddy was wasting away I tried to be there as much as possible. I was juggling a new job, newborn baby, and he was going through intensive chemo. I *think* just being around him helped to a certain extent. I coordinated with his mother and a couple of his friends so we could have someone with him as much as possible. 

I watched the 2004 Super Bowl with him in the hospital and we bet on the game, with him taking NE and me the Panthers. At the end of the game when NE won and I paid up, he looked at me with this huge grin and said "Life is good." This was a guy who weighed maybe 90 pounds at this point and his voice was barely above a croaked whisper. We both knew he was nearing the end and by this point he'd come around to some form of acceptance. I'll never forget moments like this. 

 

BroncoFreak_2K3

sucker for Orange
Sorry to hear, and yes, most definitely go.  The time and how you spend it will work out, most importantly, you being there with your GB. Good Luck and prayers.

 

Terminalxylem

Footballguy
Agree with everyone about visiting him ASAP.  Don’t beat yourself about losing touch, as we’ve all been there, and a close friend won’t hold it against you.

If he feels comfortable talking about the tumor, I’d try to ensure he considers visiting a major cancer center. Glioblastoma is a nasty tumor, so he needs to explore all his options, including clinical trials.  His oncologist should know experts in the field, but it looks like Duke and MD Anderson are among the top institutions in the south.

 

The General

Footballguy
Man, terrible news. Get on a plane if you can and the convo will work itself out. It will be uncomfortable at times but you both will be glad it happened.

For the family I’d do some prepared meals delivered from Whole Foods or one of the food plan delivery places. One less thing for the Mom to have to do right now. 

 

kface

Footballguy
He had a tumor removed a few weeks ago and the pathology report just came back - Glioblastoma IDH wild type WHO Grade 4.  I've been in a state of shock all day so I've been unable to process what the prognosis is.  I researched it for about 20 minutes, and what I saw was so dire that I just tuned out.  This guy is my childhood friend - he is my childhood.  We were best friends from K-12.  Love him like a brother.  I got the news today and from 9-5 I totally ignored it so I could concentrate on work.  But as soon as work ended the flood-gates opened.  

I lost touch with him the last 15 years.  Life.  I never stopped thinking about him, and always referred to him as "my favorite person on the planet."  He made me laugh more than anyone else.  Over time I've realized what a precious gift that is.  I reached out to his wife tonight and said I would love to go down to Florida and visit them.  I feel like a heel for not keeping in touch with him the last 15 years.  Regret is one of the consistent themes of my life.  But enough about me - that's not important.  I want to help my friend, his wife and his children.  How do I talk to him about all this?  Should I ignore it all and make him feel happy with fond memories?  I don't know what to do.  I'm asking all of you for your collective wisdom.  And your support.  This diagnosis has shaken my world and challenged my beliefs in a benevolent God.  Please give me your thoughts.  I really do value your opinions.  Thanks.


I'm so sorry to hear this.   My brother, who was also my best friend, passed away from pancreatic cancer.  The best advice I can give is be there to listen and to sit with them.  Just be there.  Let them direct the conservation, ask the questions, be honest and true.  Those are the greatest gifts we can give each other and they often only come out in difficult times like these.

All the best.  And make time for your grief as well

 

John123

Footballguy
Oh man.  This sucks.  I'm sorry to hear.  As mentioned, go visit before it's too late.  And just try to be there for your friend.

 

Da Guru

Fair & Balanced
He had a tumor removed a few weeks ago and the pathology report just came back - Glioblastoma IDH wild type WHO Grade 4.  I've been in a state of shock all day so I've been unable to process what the prognosis is.  I researched it for about 20 minutes, and what I saw was so dire that I just tuned out.  This guy is my childhood friend - he is my childhood.  We were best friends from K-12.  Love him like a brother.  I got the news today and from 9-5 I totally ignored it so I could concentrate on work.  But as soon as work ended the flood-gates opened.  

I lost touch with him the last 15 years.  Life.  I never stopped thinking about him, and always referred to him as "my favorite person on the planet."  He made me laugh more than anyone else.  Over time I've realized what a precious gift that is.  I reached out to his wife tonight and said I would love to go down to Florida and visit them.  I feel like a heel for not keeping in touch with him the last 15 years.  Regret is one of the consistent themes of my life.  But enough about me - that's not important.  I want to help my friend, his wife and his children.  How do I talk to him about all this?  Should I ignore it all and make him feel happy with fond memories?  I don't know what to do.  I'm asking all of you for your collective wisdom.  And your support.  This diagnosis has shaken my world and challenged my beliefs in a benevolent God.  Please give me your thoughts.  I really do value your opinions.  Thanks.


Lost one of my best friends to the same 8 months after diagnosis, he opted for no treatment so he was not sick too much until the last 2 months or so.  Treatment might have given him a couple more months but with severe side effects.

We got together 3-4 times during this period and talked.  I always let him steer the conversation and he never talked about his illness.

All I can say is reach out gently and try to be there when he needs you. And I am sorry for the both of you.

 

dkp993

Footballguy
Sorry to hear about this ek, really sucks.  As others have said reach out. Friendship like that picks right back up regardless of the time gap, and I’d bet big he’ll appreciate it.  

 

Judge Smails

Footballguy
I’m so sorry. I’ve lost 2 great friends to glioblastoma. Both lasted about 11 months. Both in their late 40’s. Just devastating. For what it’s worth they hated all of the treatments, especially steroids. Quality of life when they ended that and went into hospice was so much better. 

 

rockaction

Footballguy
Sorry to hear this, ekbeats. Truly. Go visit him. Throw hang-ups to the wind. Laugh a little or console a little, depending on what your function is there. Mrs. R. is wise as usual. Let him direct you on how to be. 

Peace, man. 

 

Joe Bryant

Guide
Staff member
I'm sorry GB.

If it's possible at all, try to see him. You won't know what to say and that's fine. Just let him know you care and you're there and be honest. If you're sorry for something, tell him. In my opinion, you don't have to be "strong" for him. I think the main thing is let him know you care. Let him know you're with him. 

But I'd beg you not to let any hang up of awkwardness or anything like that keep you from going. It may be awkward. It sucks. You can't do a lot. But what you can do is let him know you care and you're with him. 

 

jwb

Footballguy
Galileo said:
Knowing this news, you will regret it for the rest of your life if you don't re-connect.  Do it.  Don't worry about it. Remember, he did the same thing as you for the last 15 years, so don't blame yourself for the past.  Go...catch up on old times...offer your friendship and support for the time he has remaining.  


This, all day long. Losing touch is part of life, and it's ok. Go see him - you are an irreplaceable, extremely important part of his life. Just like he was to yours. 

 

culdeus

Have good
Very sorry to hear it.  I would say that I had a similar situation close to me and was floored by how insensitive people were about choosing to fight or not fight the disease.  Please know whatever your friend decides you need to support it and the decision.  

 

ProstheticRGK

Footballguy
Just go and be yourself with your friend. I think in situations like this, people get "paralyzed" by feeling like they have to be something: the supporting friend who helps you get through this. There's no playbook, and your friend doesn't know how to deal with it, either. He just is dealing with it. Laugh, cry, reminisce, and if you see a way he needs help and you can help- then help.

 

ekbeats

Footballguy
Thanks everyone.  I appreciate your kind words and good advice.  I messaged him the last couple of days and as it turns out he has missed me just as much over the years, and felt the same way about our friendship.  He actually used the term "love you like a brother" which is how I described him in the OP.

I called him this morning and we had an amazing conversation that wasn't awkward at all.  It was like a time warp and we were back in our 20's, only a little wiser.  I let him direct the conversation - great advice from you guys.  He immediately went into his cancer and talked about how crazy life is.  He said he's been working out and running and is in the best shape of his life - now this.  He came right out and said that he has 10-15 months to live.  He was accepting of it, and said that his whole line of thinking has changed.  Memories dominate his thoughts, and some of his best were when we went to Martha's Vineyard every year.  We talked about his kids - how they took the news.  I was glad to hear he has been going to church all these years.  That will certainly help.  His parents just passed away within the last two years, and he joked about his Mom missing him so much that she's calling him home.

As the conversation went along I could tell he was having trouble with some of his thoughts.  But overall he was the same old Roland - cracking jokes, laughing at his own jokes, and very positive throughout.  He's put off travel the last 2 years (F.U. Covid) but he wants to do that now.  He told me his greatest fear - not being able to breathe.  He talked about his wife and how lucky they both were to find each other.  Told me that her first marriage was filled with physical abuse, but that over the years she and Roland found a way to forgive her ex when he had reached out and asked for it.  Apparently they are good friends now, and Roland seemed proud about it.  Such a kind soul.  We made some plans and I'll be going down there in June after his first round of treatment. 

I don't think I ever talked with someone so candidly about their terminal illness.  It didn't surprise me that Roland was still comfortable going deep with me about it.  We always had that type of relationship, even as kids.  We'd talk about everything - our hopes, dreams, fears - without ever having to pause to think if something was weird or corny.  No filters - complete trust.  Over time I've grown to appreciate how special that is.  We're both wired the same way - a bit on the sappy, sentimental side.  Sometimes we sounded like a couple of chicks.  Probably the only guy I've ever cried in front of, which I again did on the phone today.

Thanks again everyone.  Any book suggestions that you think might help?  Other ideas?  Like Ross Perot said, "I'm all ears."

 

Dez89

Footballguy
Really sorry to hear this GB.  A college friend of mine passed away in 2020 from this.

I'm sure he's already been informed of all the treatments but Optune seems to have some promise and it seemed to keep things in check for a little while for my buddy.

 

tri-man 47

Footballguy
I want to help my friend, his wife and his children.  How do I talk to him about all this?  Should I ignore it all and make him feel happy with fond memories?  I don't know what to do.  I'm asking all of you for your collective wisdom.  And your support.  This diagnosis has shaken my world and challenged my beliefs in a benevolent God.  Please give me your thoughts.  I really do value your opinions.  Thanks.
I would suggest that your thread here, the responses from this unusual - but at its best, wonderful - FBG community, and most importantly your decision to reach out after 15 years is a benevolent God at work.  You're a gift to your friend in his time of need.  Support Roland.  Support his family, and do what you can to help them in the years ahead.    

 

ekbeats

Footballguy
tri-man 47 said:
I would suggest that your thread here, the responses from this unusual - but at its best, wonderful - FBG community, and most importantly your decision to reach out after 15 years is a benevolent God at work.  You're a gift to your friend in his time of need.  Support Roland.  Support his family, and do what you can to help them in the years ahead.    
Thank you tri,  I believe that.  What you are saying is encapsulated in the book "When Bad Things Happen to Good People."  I am sending Roland a copy of it.  If not for him, at least for his wife and kids.  I know what it is like to lose a parent at 21.  Strangely enough it's a time in life where you learn to appreciate your parents, to see them as human beings, and to understand the sacrifices they made and how much they love you.  I think the kids are going to be my focus.  Maybe I can give Roland some insights into this, given my experience.  I don't know.  I'm so confused.  All I know is I'm heartbroken and devastated.  Of all people, not Roland.  Not now.  😓

 
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wikkidpissah

Footballguy
best thing you can do is be a reminder that he doesnt regret his life. the diminishments of the end of life magnify what bitternesses linger. continuing to represent aspects of his life your friend values will keep his outlook high as he deals with this last challenge. and try to spend some of yourself on him all the way thru. lost my wife to a long bout with cancer and it wore a lot of people out and things got very lonely towards the end and that bothered her almost as much as the pain. and, as others have said above, be natural, be a bud is all. GL -

 

bigbottom

I put on my robe and wizard hat
Thanks everyone.  I appreciate your kind words and good advice.  I messaged him the last couple of days and as it turns out he has missed me just as much over the years, and felt the same way about our friendship.  He actually used the term "love you like a brother" which is how I described him in the OP.

I called him this morning and we had an amazing conversation that wasn't awkward at all.  It was like a time warp and we were back in our 20's, only a little wiser.  I let him direct the conversation - great advice from you guys.  He immediately went into his cancer and talked about how crazy life is.  He said he's been working out and running and is in the best shape of his life - now this.  He came right out and said that he has 10-15 months to live.  He was accepting of it, and said that his whole line of thinking has changed.  Memories dominate his thoughts, and some of his best were when we went to Martha's Vineyard every year.  We talked about his kids - how they took the news.  I was glad to hear he has been going to church all these years.  That will certainly help.  His parents just passed away within the last two years, and he joked about his Mom missing him so much that she's calling him home.

As the conversation went along I could tell he was having trouble with some of his thoughts.  But overall he was the same old Roland - cracking jokes, laughing at his own jokes, and very positive throughout.  He's put off travel the last 2 years (F.U. Covid) but he wants to do that now.  He told me his greatest fear - not being able to breathe.  He talked about his wife and how lucky they both were to find each other.  Told me that her first marriage was filled with physical abuse, but that over the years she and Roland found a way to forgive her ex when he had reached out and asked for it.  Apparently they are good friends now, and Roland seemed proud about it.  Such a kind soul.  We made some plans and I'll be going down there in June after his first round of treatment. 

I don't think I ever talked with someone so candidly about their terminal illness.  It didn't surprise me that Roland was still comfortable going deep with me about it.  We always had that type of relationship, even as kids.  We'd talk about everything - our hopes, dreams, fears - without ever having to pause to think if something was weird or corny.  No filters - complete trust.  Over time I've grown to appreciate how special that is.  We're both wired the same way - a bit on the sappy, sentimental side.  Sometimes we sounded like a couple of chicks.  Probably the only guy I've ever cried in front of, which I again did on the phone today.

Thanks again everyone.  Any book suggestions that you think might help?  Other ideas?  Like Ross Perot said, "I'm all ears."
I’m so glad to hear about your conversation. It sounds like you two have a really special relationship and you both really got a lot out of reconnecting. I hope you can have many more conversations like these in the next 15 months, and perhaps in person.  Given the perspective he shared with you, I’m sure that your talks and reminiscing together will mean so much to him. But the day will come when you realize that this reconnecting was as much for you as it was for him. You will cherish this conversation and the ones ahead, and be thankful that you had them. 

 

BigJim®

Footballguy
best thing you can do is be a reminder that he doesnt regret his life. the diminishments of the end of life magnify what bitternesses linger. continuing to represent aspects of his life your friend values will keep his outlook high as he deals with this last challenge. and try to spend some of yourself on him all the way thru. lost my wife to a long bout with cancer and it wore a lot of people out and things got very lonely towards the end and that bothered her almost as much as the pain. and, as others have said above, be natural, be a bud is all. GL -
:goodposting:

I am very sorry for you and your friend. Life is so fragile. You definitely should go visit him. I try to put myself in his shoes (impossible) and think reconnecting with an old friend would be beneficial to my mindset. I say that because I'd be struggling with the philosophical question of 'did my existence even matter?' Reminiscing a friendship, and knowing his friendship had such significance for you that you want to reconnect after so long, makes his existence meaningful. I'm sort of torn on sending books. Probably differs by personality but I'm going out checking off a bucket list and not reading books reminding me of my dire situation. You might ask him if he has a bucket list item you can join him accomplishing.

 

bigbottom

I put on my robe and wizard hat
:goodposting:

I am very sorry for you and your friend. Life is so fragile. You definitely should go visit him. I try to put myself in his shoes (impossible) and think reconnecting with an old friend would be beneficial to my mindset. I say that because I'd be struggling with the philosophical question of 'did my existence even matter?' Reminiscing a friendship, and knowing his friendship had such significance for you that you want to reconnect after so long, makes his existence meaningful. I'm sort of torn on sending books. Probably differs by personality but I'm going out checking off a bucket list and not reading books reminding me of my dire situation. You might ask him if he has a bucket list item you can join him accomplishing.
I like this a lot, particularly given his perspective on the situation. 

 

Terminalxylem

Footballguy
Yes indeed.  The worst possible.  I think I read that only one person in history has survived it more than 5 years.  At least it brings clarity, allowing him to prepare.
Yeah, the prognosis is terrible, but cancer treatment, especially immunotherapy, is progressing rapidly these days. You never know when a breakthrough will occur, which is why it’s important to seek out centers at the forefront of cancer research. 

On a related note, it’s important he elaborate his end-of-life wishes explicitly, while he is of sound mind. Not a pleasant topic under any circumstances, but better now than later, as unfortunately things can go downhill fast. 

 

Mrs. Rannous

Footballguy
On a related note, it’s important he elaborate his end-of-life wishes explicitly, while he is of sound mind. Not a pleasant topic under any circumstances, but better now than later, as unfortunately things can go downhill fast. 
This is an excellent idea.  Also, perhaps a call to Hospice might yield some helpful hints.  Those people are amazing.

 

ekbeats

Footballguy
Quick update...  I've been talking with Roland at least once a week and texting him almost every day.  He is 24 days into his chemo and radiation treatment, and he is handling it quite well.  He's only had one of the six side effects they warned about - extreme lethargy. I won't be visiting him in June as originally planned.  He'll have an MRI on July 6th which will determine whether he needs surgery again.  If not, he'll be coming home to Connecticut to visit all his friends and family.

Although we lost touch for 15 years, we are tighter than ever.  As we reminisced about all the great times we shared from Kindergarten onward, it was striking just how important we were in each other's lives.  Sometimes it takes the passage of time to see things so clearly.  At some point in the last month we started referring to ourselves as brothers.  Makes sense, because I haven't been this upset about something since my Mom passed away 30 years ago.

On a lighter note, one of the things that bonded us was our love for the Celtics in the 80's.  Their current run has been a blessing, helping us to reunite and have something fun to talk about.  I'd love it for the Celtics to win this Championship - but just in case I hedged my bet.  A few weeks ago I started betting against the Celtics - thought being that if they lost I'd at least make some money that I could give to Roland and his family.  Needless to say I'm not doing well on that end, which is fine by me.

Please keep Roland and his family in your prayers, and thanks for listening.

 

ignatiusjreilly

Footballguy
EK, this post really got to me. Two years ago, my best and oldest friend was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Fortunately, he's responded well to treatment, and while MM is incurable, there's a decent chance he could live with this for decades. But I remember when I first heard about the diagnosis, having a moment where it just hit me that I could lose my best friend. It was an awful feeling, compounded by the guilt that I was thinking of myself at a moment when I felt like I should be thinking of him.

I'm glad this has given you an opportunity to reconnect with him. Treasure the moments you have with him in the coming months and (hopefully) years. Also, I posted this article when it came out a few months ago, but The Ringer's Jonathan Tjarks, who is facing a likely terminal cancer diagnosis, wrote this extraordinary piece about how he wants his friends to help preserve his memory for his child: Does My Son Know You? 

It's a good message for you to keep in mind, but it's also a good thing to share with your friend. I'm sure it will give him lots of peace of mind to know that, whatever happens to him, you won't forget about his family. That might even be something you could turn into a project that you work on together: preserving memories to share with his kids. There are even services set up for this kind of stuff.

Anyway, these are just suggestions that may or may not make sense for you and your friend. Either way, what you are doing is great. Sending lots of good thoughts Roland's way.

 

ekbeats

Footballguy
Roland came back to his hometown this weekend and we all got together last night. My first time seeing him in about 18 years, but nothing has changed. Still the same guy - joking, laughing, drinking wine while everyone else is drinking beer and whiskey.

It was a perfect night. The weather was beautiful and all my best friends from childhood were there. So cool that we’ve all stayed close - from kindergarten to present day.

I got a little banged up so I ended up crashing on the couch at Roland’s childhood home. I used to sleep over there when we were in elementary school. Almost 50 years later - another sleepover. It was such a surreal experience.

Reality came back and hit me later today. As some of you know, my brother was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer a few weeks ago. We had a nice talk this afternoon and I gave him Roland’s number so they can help each other out.
 

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