Monday, 27 May 2013

My Plan

In March 2012 my friend Juanita Thiessen died from pancreatic cancer. She was 52 years old. Juanita was a wonderful woman, kind with a ready laugh, easy going and devoted to her husband Gerald and her three children. Pancreatic cancer is another sneaky disease; people often go undiagnosed until the cancer is well advanced, in many cases leaving them with weeks or only a few months to live. This was the case with Juanita; she died shortly after her diagnosis.

When I compare ALS with something like Pancreatic Cancer, I consider myself lucky, especially after days like yesterday where I go the time to visit my children and grandchildren. Juanita did not get that opportunity. She did not get to meet any of her grandchildren, and while I may not get to meet all of mine I at least get to meet some of them.

Spending time with small children can be exhausting and exhilarating. It is a time filled with laughter, giggles, tickles and tales. Watching my grandchildren play, seeing them explore their new world and learn about how life works, this is the stuff that I have time to do. This is what Juanita never got to do.

This few weeks has been, and will be, very special to me. Yesterday it was time with my daughters, Meaghan and Mary, and their daughters Charlotte and Rose. Over the last few days it has been time with my son, working on our boat, preparing for the summer. In a couple of days I will head north to Yellowknife where I will pick up my daughter Kate and we will spend three days driving back to Calgary. These are the things I get to do because I have time. These are some of the things I may not have done were it not for ALS.

Having this illness is frustrating, difficult, maddening, aggravating, upsetting, demoralizing and all the other words you can imagine. Yet this disease caused me to write. This diseases causes me to spend time with my parents, my children, my grandchildren. This disease makes me see these moments for the special things that they are.

I may have a crappy disease, but I am lucky. I have time. I plan on using it as well as I can, to be with my family, my Mom and Ray, my children and grandchildren, as much as I can. I plan on loving them and those around me, as much as I can. ALS has focused my attention.


  1. Richard, pancreatic cancer stole my dear brother Donnie from us March 2012 also. We had 16 days from the day he found out until he passed away. It was like a blur. He was in such pain and so weak that he didn't even get to go fishing one more time like he wanted to with his sons. It was a heart wrenching time for all of us. My big brother was my hero and the head of the family since we lost our parents a month apart in 1984. I am lost without him.
    I am glad you have this time to spend with your family. Believe me; they will and do cherish it as much as you do.

  2. My mom died of a stroke unexpectedly at the age of 42. Because of the silent killer she only got to see one of her kids graduate but all 4 of us did. She met none of our spouses and she never got to hold or see her first grandchild, she has 10. The oldest of us was 18 and the youngest was 12 (me).

    ALS is a cruel disease but yet you do have time for your kids and grandchildren. Not the years you might of planned on but you do have time to enjoy your family. Make new memories with your kids.

    ALS might take away so much from you physically but it gave you a better appreciation of what's important in life, family.

  3. We will cherish the time we spend with Richard and the family too.