Monday, October 18, 2010

Wear Loud Shirts and Eat Dessert

This is a postscript to my Cancer Sucks post of November 2009.

Michael Canty passed on at the age of 51. He was diagnosed with acute lymphotic leukemia approximately one year ago.

The leukemia was bullied into remission through aggressive chemotherapy. Unfortunately the thing that was supposed to cure him put his body into near total organ failure. Two organs that did not fail were Michael's brain and skin.

We visited him in the hospital ICU just after Christmas. The nurse took out his tracheotomy tube so that he could converse with us. This caused such severe respiratory distress that it had to be immediately replaced.

For almost one year, Michael refused to die. He fought incredible odds. He regained some functions such as the ability to eat and the ability to walk a few steps. He took a shower. He went home to Hampton, Virginia where he used to be a high school principal and city manager. He kept a blog, sometimes writing though his wife, Annie, sometimes writing with his son, Liam. He managed to post himself after regaining the use of his hands.

My husband met Michael at Boston College when they were graduate students. In 1983, Michael, Doug, and friends Mary and Jeanne rented a Dodge Reliant K Station wagon. They took a month to drive across the U.S. Most of the time they took shifts driving. Occasionally they stopped to camp. I met Doug just after his return East.

Doug and Mike vowed to make this trip again before they died. They envisioned two old geezers speeding through the desert in a Porsche convertible.

It seems that Michael's respiratory system did not want to cooperate. Mike would take a step forward, walk, write, laugh, and then the lungs would fill up with fluid again. Michael had to go back to intensive care.

Michael did not want to live forever on a ventilator and asked his family and doctors to disconnect him. He was surrounded by family and friends. He was at peace. He said that he was able to reconnect with everyone that he wanted to in the last year of his life. He left us last week to pursue his final journey into the unknown. We will be attending a celebration of his life on Friday. He has requested that we do two things in his memory:

1. Wear Loud Shirts
2. Always Eat Dessert (Life is to short to deprive yourself)

We love you Michael. We hope your chariot was a Porsche! I'll have some of that cheesecake now.

My dear mother's birthday would have been Wednesday. Cancer and chemo took her in 2006.
I wanted to post some pictures. Perhaps I will at some point , but not today.


Peggy said...

What a touching post, Neetzy. And what a tremendous message... eat dessert and wear loud shirts. I'll make sure to do both of those things today. Thanks for sharing.

neetzy said...

Do them and enjoy! Thanks Peggy.

dive said...

A beautiful tribute, Neetzy.
Luckily it is cold enough here for me to wear my favourite (awesomely tasteless) Hawai'ian shirt under my sweater at the office today, and I shall be sure to enjoy some yummy dessert in honour of Michael.

neetzy said...

Thanks Dive,

Attended the service today. We started with cake and ended with Guinness. We wore loud shirts and celebrated Michael's amazing life.