We were at at dinner gathering this weekend. It just so happened that at the party was a family whose father recently succumbed to esophageal cancer. But was was more surprising, was that he was treated at our alma mater, and had met Buddy. And so, I was fascinated to hear his wife share his story:
4 years ago, he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. This, on top of numerous medical issues like diabetes, lupus and heart ailments. He had a wife, and 2 kids. And so, he got bitter. He got angry, and couldn't understand why him.
Why him? Wasn't he already given enough? Why is life so unfair? Why is God doing this?
And then, someone mentioned of a young doctor, a cancer specialist, who was himself battling the same disease. Someone suggested that they meet.
His wife shares that, in that one afternoon, he met up with Buddy for the first time in the Cancer Center. Not as a patient of his. But as peer. As a cancer patient, reaching out to another for guidance. And in that few hours, his outlook changed from being a bitter angry man in denial, to one of acceptance, of someone in awe that if a young oncologist like Buddy who was only starting out in life could face this disease and stare it in the eye and be to accepting and have faith, then so could he.
His wife said that that afternoon changed his outlook 180 degrees. He was no longer bitter. He, someone 30 years older, looked up to Buddy for inspiration.
They shared many emails following that. Apparently stuff that only someone in the inner circle can relate to, someone none of us doctors really understand- the pain, the neuropathy you experience from the chemo, the other side effects.
They were saddened when Buddy passed away last year. They knew he was headed for the same fate eventually; but he faced the adversity with much more dignity, and peace.
I loved hearing that story. I loved how Buddy touched his life and inspired him so much. His family reckons that Buddy was one of the 5 most important people to him during the cancer years. That he mentioned before his passing that he hopes he'd get to meet Buddy again in Heaven to talk again.
They teared up. I did too. But it felt like a wonderful reunion, to be able to share our stories from opposite ends with this one common thread.