Monday, August 10, 2009

Sometimes, not even determination can beat The Big C

Just over a year ago (June 25, 2008) I posted here about my young friend Misha, who had had brain cancer, and refused to let anything get him down. I was amazed and inspired by his spirit and determination.
He told me then that he didn't know what his long-term prognosis was, and his doctors quit telling him such things, because he refused to accept anything negative. He had already proven them wrong by surviving surgery and chemo, and walking, when they had told him that was all doubtful.
Misha did say that time that he knew he wouldn't live as long as if he hadn't had cancer, but he didn't know how long that might be.
He told me all of that when we went for lunch together. We stayed in touch via facebook and he came over to my place for supper one night this past spring.
I hadn't heard from him in a while, but have now learned why. Misha is now at Roger's Place, a palliative care centre for young people here in Ottawa. Simply put, he's dying, at the ripe old age of 19.
I've been in touch with Misha's father, Angelo. I met both of them the first year I lived in Ottawa, when I signed on to be trainer of the hockey team that Misha was a goaltender for, and Angelo was one of the coaches.
Angelo tells me that Misha has been spending a lot of time with family and friends, and that me visiting would be just fine. In his email to me, Angelo says that Misha "keeps on smiling which is always amazing to see" and that he's "facing this final challenge with a lot of courage".
I'm going to go for my first visit on Wednesday. Sure, I'm a bit apprehensive, but a lot less than I would be, if I hadn't had lunch and supper with him those times, and chatted online other times. I'll approach it the same way we've dealt with each other as trainer to goaltender and friend to friend: Head on and very frankly. In fact, Misha might not know it, but he taught me how to do that.
Am I upset that he's dying? Of course. He's only 19, for crying out loud. Things aren't supposed to be this way.
Am I still inspired by him, and expect to be inspired some more? You bet.
I've been a trainer and/or manager with almost two dozen hockey teams over the past 30 years or so. The goaltenders have always been my "pets" because while they're not really different from the other kids, they each march to their very own drummer and to their very own tune in their heads. I think that's another foundation of the friendship I have with Misha.
Angelo's going to tell Misha that I'm coming Wednesday afternoon. I told him that Mish and I will take it from there, and I'll visit more often.
I'm going to ride this out with my buddy, with a very selfish motive. I'm already a better person for having known Misha and sharing a bit of his journey with him. Riding it out with him to the end will make me that much better a person.


John Mielke Photography said...

Bob, you're awesome. Truly.

Newsguy Bob said...

The date is set. I'm having supper with Misha at Roger's House on Wednesday.

Newsguy Bob said...

Roger's Place is an awesome facility. Misha is doing very well there.
The support of his family and friends is also quite impressive.
We didn't have any one-on-one time, but I will be back several times to visit him.
And he keeps smiling!

Maria said...

Why is life so unfair sometimes?

I am happy to hear Misha is doing well dispite everything life has thrown at him. Let's keep him in our prayers. Miracles do happen.

T said...

Your post gave me goosebumps. Just one more reason to live each day to the fullest cause you never know what lies around the next corner. I hope you have a wonderful visit Wednesday and many more after that.

Ma Horton said...

Reading this now and feeling truly humbled. Many blessings of faith and love as you spend time with one of life's true heroes.

Newsguy Bob said...

Kinda puts everything into its proper perspective, doesn't it?
And T, what you said about living each day to the fullest is the same thing Little Bro Dan told me, when I updated him on what's up with Misha.
I haven't been back to see Mish since last Wednesday, partly because his girlfriend from New Hampshire is in town visiting (not THAT is one special young woman), but I will be back, count on it.

Newsguy Bob said... the girlfriend, that, of course should say "NOW that is one special..."