Bidding a friend farewell

IRONICALLY in cancer awareness month, I am preparing myself to say goodbye to a very good friend who is dying of cancer.

Derek Victor was diagnosed with a rare kind of lymphoma four years ago and has been sick a long time. After some chemotherapy early on, Victor opted not to continue with the treatment, which is debilitating all by itself. I can understand that.

And for a while, he seemed none the worse for his choice. When someone is still walking around, living with the disease, it is easy to think they are not that sick and life will go on. But it’s deceptive until it gets really bad.

Some cancers are easier to hide than others. They just might be apparent from weight loss and hair loss due to chemotherapy. Other cancers are more evident and external. Victor’s lymphoma manifested in lesions over his body. Most are covered by clothing, but there has been that sore on his head that was the constant reminder. With topical treatment, some weeks it just looked better than others.

But mostly, his illness has showed in the weariness on his face.

Having known him as a man full of vigour, always up and about, I knew he was starting to get really ill when he could not make a dinner invitation as he was feeling too weak. It made me very sad.

And when I saw him last week when he handed over new pumps to the municipality, as reported on in our front page story, I was struck by the frailty of his movements as he walked.

We sat in his office for a while, and he related how strange it was and yet how comforting, to have the time to talk to his family knowing a time will come when his chair will be empty.

I will miss him dearly. It is good to tell people how much we appreciate them while we still have life.

We all probably have an ever-growing circle of people we know who have been afflicted with cancer, and we know what it is to cling to hope, feel despair and suffer loss.

In this same edition, we tell the story of a cancer survivor, Carlos Cruz, who is positive he is beating the disease.

It is good to hear positive stories like this and we hope Cruz has many more years left to live a healthy, normal life. And to all cancer sufferers and their family members and loved ones, we also wish you courage and hope.

– Jon Houzet

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