Back in February I vented my anger and grief on this blog in a post about a good friend that had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. You can read the post here: http://rhinorog.blogspot.com/2010/02/rage-rage-against-dying-of-light.html
Soon after I wrote that post my friend Clint was sent home from the hospital to die with a diagnosis of glassy carcinoma of the lungs. He was on oxygen pretty much all of the time and sleeping a lot. He held court as friend after friend came by to say goodbye. He began giving away many of his earthly possessions. A couple of weeks later he became so weak that he was moved to a hospice to finish his wait for the Grim Reaper. We were told that it would be a matter of days. I went to visit him, expecting to find him wasted and on the verge of death. Instead, I found him sitting in a chair on the little patio outside of his room, smoking a cigar. He was weak and prone to falling asleep but seemed to be hanging in despite everyone's expectation that he was going to die soon. The doctors and nurses didn't understand why he was still alive. They said that to him on numerous occasions. Technically, his body wasn't/shouldn't be able to absorb enough oxygen to keep him alive. But there he was, as cantankerous as ever.
The stay at the hospice turned into a couple of weeks. He grew stronger. Eventually, they advised him that he would need to leave. I guess he was just not dying fast enough. He went home and continued to improve. He still needed oxygen, but it was for shorter periods of time. Over the next 6 months the visiting nurse couldn't believe what she was seeing. Week after week he kept improving. His need for supplemental oxygen continued to abate until he was breathing on his own most of the time. His doctors didn't understand it. He underwent a myriad of scans and tests and the doctors shared the following with him a couple of weeks ago - there was no sign whatsoever of the cancer in his lungs - other than a bit of scarring that they would take care of with a minor surgery. No sign of cancer. None. Zip. Nada. The immediate thought was that the original diagnosis had been a serious mistake and that he had to have had something else. So, they went back and reviewed all of the tests, biopsies, scans, etc., and the conclusion was that the original diagnosis was correct. For some reason, they have zero clue why, this badass kicked the cancer's ass.
After 8 months of staring death in the face on a daily basis, going through unimaginable terror, grief and never giving up, Clint has been given a clean bill of health. Don't get me wrong, he won't be running any marathons in the near future, he needs to put on about 30 pounds and he still has a stoop in his neck that physical therapy will resolve. But the stubborn bastard is still alive and kicking.
The doctors are using him as a case study ... someone said there is a huge interest in his case at Johns Hopkins. A certified miracle. No chemo. No radiation. Just one man who would not bow down to what everyone thought was the inevitable.
I like to think that it was the cigars that he wouldn't give up.
I have witnessed a miracle. How many people get to say that? More importantly, I have my friend back ... and he likes to pick up the tab when we go to lunch. So, there you go, a double bonus. Might have to go get some BBQ next week. With my buddy, the fucking miracle man.
I hope he isn't going to want his stuff back.
It's a good thing to be a not having to have gone to the funeral of a friend Rhino.