Love Endures Even Cancer
May 17, 2011 7:15 PM   Subscribe

"In 2006, Mr. Snow had Stage 3 melanoma, a disease usually found in people three decades older." A short New York Times piece on a young couple going through the end of a cancer diagnosis. Make sure you watch the video in the multimedia column.
posted by Corduroy (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Goodness. The end of that video, with her sitting next to an empty chair...

I really cannot imagine going through something like that at her age. Or at any age, really.
posted by hippybear at 7:31 PM on May 17, 2011

"I can't want him to have stayed" is putting it better than I think I've ever heard.
posted by sbutler at 7:36 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:44 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


"And you would think it would be weird to say, but, how lucky can a guy be, or a girl be, to get to have that feeling of, kind of, what may be like, pure love... to think that someone loves you completely... and to feel that before you die, I'm lucky because I know that not everyone gets to feel that, to know that."
posted by charmcityblues at 7:49 PM on May 17, 2011 [3 favorites]

Damnit, I hope Stephen Hawking is wrong.
posted by schmod at 8:00 PM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]

Happy Birthday it's been 10 years. Thank you for sharing with me the emotions these young people were able to discover with each other.

Beautiful couple
Keep the memories, you get to take those with you.
posted by Jikido at 8:46 PM on May 17, 2011

posted by telegraph at 8:49 PM on May 17, 2011

This sounds incredibly sad and I don't think I need that right now, so I'm not going to watch it.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:59 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

That was extraordinary. Tylerkaraszewski, it is sad but it is also beautiful.
posted by neuromodulator at 9:02 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


And a related PSA - also remember to ask your optometrist and dentist to check for moles in your eyes/mouth.
posted by monkeys with typewriters at 9:06 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm in a similar situation at the moment. This helps.

All I can say is it's hard seeing young people at the hospital. Sometimes they've started a family and I worry for their children. Sometimes they're alone and I hope they've got a treatable disease. The children are at another hospital, thank goodness. Too hard.

It is bittersweet, the love you feel caring for your loved one as they stare in the face of death, searching for meaning and seeking respite. Death is a process, a pure expression of beauty and its raw, tragic nature. Ironically, chemotherapy transfigures the patient to a more infantile form, smooth, needful and pure. It is also disfiguring, robbing them of their self-image and their abilities. I am thankful every day that I have been able to give my love and care for my loved one through this process.

"Most people hear skin cancer and think that it's quite easily cured[...]" Being diagnosed with late stage cancer makes these conversations awkward. Everyone wants to be hopeful and thinks they're being helpful when they talk about how they have a new drug for that, or how so many people triumph over cancer. Sometimes I just want to scream that it's not that simple but I smile and I tell them the advances that have been made are wonderful.

We've nearly hit six years since diagnosis, three with no evidence of disease. The labor of many dedicated men and women is responsible for this, and there is nothing I can do to express how grateful I am for the time we've stolen back. We owe it to the doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and researchers who devote their lives to work on conquering this monstrous malady. Of course I want more, more options and more time, but I am almost ready. Almost. I think.

posted by polyhedron at 9:21 PM on May 17, 2011 [6 favorites]

posted by sarcasticah at 9:24 PM on May 17, 2011

Her grief is luminous
posted by Conductor71 at 10:13 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

So beautiful. I want to say bless their hearts, but they are already blessed.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:10 PM on May 17, 2011

I am his brother.

His wife nor I have read the article. We will, eventually.

Shortly before he died in February he and I talked a few times about whether the situation was too private for such a public article. Even though he didn't see the later drafts he felt that the content held messages worth sharing. This article was important to him. To all of us.

The fact that it is giving something to strangers would make him happy.

I want to share with metafilter how big he lived and how big he died. But, honestly, I am just not ready to give that much of myself (and others) to the public yet.

So, please, keep passing the article along. When I watch in the next few days I'll leave a comment here.
posted by dylanSnow at 4:56 AM on May 18, 2011 [45 favorites]

posted by lester at 5:01 AM on May 18, 2011

That was beautiful and painful and raw, and I thank Corduroy for posting and dylanSnow for sharing.

Many people will go to their graves, at ripe old ages, having never understood what these two embodied. Luminous grief... Conductor71 had it right.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:29 AM on May 18, 2011

Such a sad and lovely interview. DylanSnow I'm so sorry for you loss - he must have been a wonderful man and died way too young.
posted by leslies at 6:04 AM on May 18, 2011

dylanSnow, I'm so sorry your family has had to suffer such a devastating loss. Your brother sounds like a remarkable man and his wife a wonderful partner for him. They are remarkable for sharing something so deeply personal with people who are, as you say, strangers. I'm very grateful. Thank you.

posted by DarlingBri at 6:19 AM on May 18, 2011

The enduring message here is one of love rather than loss. Having lost too many loved ones to cancer, I am moved and strengthened and humbled. Thanks for this.
posted by ChaoticIndustry at 6:54 AM on May 18, 2011

I don't know exactly how to put into words what I am feeling right now. First, Dylan, so very sorry for your loss. polyhedron, I am sorry you are dealing with cancer. It sucks.

I am a 2.5 year cancer survivor right now. As of my last scan I was given the No Evidence of Disease call that everyone with cancer hopes and prays, and wishes for with all their strength. My gratitude for the NED status is beyond all I can express here as I know that it can be a very fleeting status, especially with kidney cancer.

What made me fall apart and unable to quit crying is not the thought of being dead. We all die and I have been working on accepting that it is likely I will be younger than average when I go.

Seeing Haley, alone, with that empty chair beside her and picturing my husband sitting alone and in that much pain is just unthinkable. My heart hurts just imagining him like that. I never ever want to put him through that. I can't imagine leaving him without me.

My husband is the most amazing person I know and he loves me beyond measure, no matter what, he loves me. I am a lucky woman, and I hope my luck holds out as long as possible to keep him from having that lost, luminous grief.
posted by SuzySmith at 7:11 AM on May 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Their description in the video of just enjoying their vacation on the beach is perhaps the best example I've ever seen of truly being in the moment. I can't imagine being able to do that.

Dylan, I posted it on my own blog. Thanks for sharing and come back when you're ready.
posted by tommasz at 7:52 AM on May 18, 2011

Go SuzySmith! NED is a great thing. :)

My mother expresses the same sentiment, that what's hardest is knowing the pain her family and friends are/will be experiencing. It's hard for me, as her primary caretaker, to explain but I wouldn't trade that pain for anything (excepting the obvious, impossible choice).

She sees me sacrificing, I see my actions as the only option. And I don't know how to explain to her (or you, Suzy) that it's not her fault, she isn't the cause of the pain and the longing I feel. It's life, it's mysterious and unfair but it is the reality I have to accept. I must learn from it and grow toward becoming the person I need to be. I know the pain will never go away, but I cherish it as an everlasting reminder of the tragic beauty of our existence.

It is too horrible for the young to be taken in this fashion. I feel as if I should understand it better. But I can't, I can only understand my perspective as the child losing his parent. To be honest I am on a rickety wooden roller-coaster of emotion right now. It was Monday that the oncologist told us we're nearing the end of our journey.

My mother was 47 at diagnosis. She won't see her children married or hold her grandchildren. She struggled through much in her adult life, and it hurts to know she won't have those rewards.

Anyway, I'm rambling. dylanSnow, your brother was a beautiful man. The video shows a caring, uplifting spirit. I know it's not easy dealing with this. Thank you and your sister-in-law and your family. Sincerely, I don't know how to express what I'm feeling about the story, but thank you.
posted by polyhedron at 8:51 AM on May 18, 2011

I just finished reading Haley Tanner's first book, Vaclav & Lena, and absolutely loved it, and now I see this. Oh my god, I'm heartbroken for her.

Not-really-relevant quote of one of my favorite bits is relevant:
On the first night that Lena was gone, Vaclav said good night to her, put the good night out into the scary, lonely darkness, and meant each word in a very specific way. Good night. Good night. He wanted her to have a good night. Not a scary night. Not a dangerous night. Not a cold or lonely or nightmare-filled night. He filled the words with all his love and care and worry for Lena and launched them out to her, and like homing pigeons, he trusted them to find her, and he felt, that night, that his words would keep Lena safe, that if he thought about her and cared about her and showed this to the universe, then bad things would not happen to her. Vaclav was not asking an omnipotent god to grant him a wish. He was stirring in himself his own very true emotions, his pure feelings, and pushing them, birthing them into the universe, giving flight to a powerful energy that he trusted would do what as a child he was powerless to do.

Each night thereafter, he had carefully sent this good night into the universe for Lena, and each night after that, he had known if he did not take this precaution, that if he forgot or neglected or was insincere in his wish or in his mind or in his heart, that the good night might not come to Lena, and that would mean that Lena might have a bad night, and for Vaclav this meant that her life might be in danger.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:21 PM on May 18, 2011

dylanSnow. I'm so sorry. Your brother has a very beautiful soul.
posted by bluesky43 at 8:11 PM on May 18, 2011

« Older Snarf! Snarf!   |   The Legacy of Malcolm X Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments