Another of my INSPIRE friends, Darlene, was caretaker for and devoted sister to her brother Malcolm. Her moving responses to my questions begin here:
“Where do I begin ?? How do I tell the story of a simple life for a simple person who was content with all the simple things in life and never asked for more?”
Malcolm was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in July of 2010. Upon hearing that he had this very aggressive form of lung cancer, Malcolm began to cry, only to be comforted by a nurse who told him to keep in mind that we are all individuals and that he might well respond to treatment.
It was exactly what Malcolm needed to hear. Darlene describes his sudden shift in attitude: “He said he was going to beat this disease and that’s the way he saw it…and never saw it any other way.”
In fact, Malcolm managed to buoy the spirits of all those around him: “I am sure that the thought of dying had to enter his mind from time to time..but for the most part, Malcolm was such a positive person. He always managed to make me smile at his confidence. He always managed to keep me positive…the one who was sick with the illness, a life threatening disease, was able to keep the one who wasn’t sick and all of us around him, positive.”
Malcolm completed treatment in December of 2010 and entered what would turn out to be a very short lived remission. Two and a half months later Malcolm was found to have a single brain metastasis and began WBR, or whole brain radiation. Not long after this treatment was initiated, the cancer recurred in Malcolm’s lung.
“Malcolm was told he must finish the WBR before having any further treatments for the recurrence in his lung…before he could complete the WBR the cancer in his lung spread, blocking the airways and causing his right lung to completely collapse. He was then told nothing further could be done for him and he should have hospice care.”
“Malcolm died on March 20th of 2011..the first day of spring and the day after my birthday. On a Sunday.” Darlene feels that Malcolm’s acceptance of the fact that he was dying made his passing easier for the living. “How can someone who is dying make it easier for those who love him? Malcolm did just this…never once did I see him show fear. I don’t think I could have handled seeing my wonderful brother being afraid.”
“I hope that I can be just like him. Brave and content; accepting of whatever outcome…making it easier for my loved ones…as he did. A simple person, who lived a simple life and was content with the simple things. Malcolm was amazing. I learned so much from this simple person…in life and in dying.”