My Brother Gary

Between the multiple podcasts, the radio show that just got cancelled this week, and working in public, I do a lot of talking a lot of the time. But when it comes to real life stuff, I’ve never been really good at getting that out there. Here’s me trying.

A few months ago, my brother Gary called me on a Wednesday night. In most families, that’s probably not a big deal. But when I see my dad or brother call me randomly in the middle of the week, I know it’s not going to be good news, and it never is.

He danced around with small talk for a minute, before I got impatient and told him to just tell me the bad news he called to deliver. He then went on to tell me he had just been diagnosed with Stage 3 Pancreatic Cancer.

He didn’t have to say much more than that. I’m familiar with cancer, I’ve lost people very close to me because of it, I have friends that have lost people very close to them because of it. I’ve studied the different kinds, donated to charities on different kinds, hoped that nobody close to me ever again would catch any kind. Especially pancreatic cancer.

If you’ve been lucky enough to not have to look into the different kinds of cancer, I’ll sum it up for you. Pancreatic is a motherfucker. The higher the stage, the worse it is, and there are only four stages, so Stage 3 is a double motherfucker. You can Google the average life expectancy if you need that point driven home. I refuse to type it out though, because I refuse to look at anything as a time frame and my brother is anything but average.

So they went to the best hospital in the world when it comes to pancreatic cancer to get more tests and put a plan in place. Turned out it wasn’t technically pancreatic, and that it’s in the ducts around the pancreas. But that’s all technical speak that doesn’t make too much of a difference. On the pancreas or in the ducts means untreatable, unoperable, uncurable, basically, you’re stuck with it.

A plan was put in action to start chemo, which he was luckily able to do in his hometown. Do chemo for a few months, fly back to that hospital for some more tests, and go from there.

There were two ways the tests could go:

– the chemo is preventing the tumors from growing. in that case, keep doing chemo as long as it’s working.

– the chemo is not preventing the tumors from growing and they’ve gotten bigger. in that case, it’s up to my brother. keep doing chemo even though it’s not working, or stop doing the chemo and let the cancer run it’s course.

Obviously, the first option is the best case scenario.

This week is a few months later and Gary and his wife Angie went back to the hospital for more tests. It was time to find out which of the two ways the tests would go.


That wasn’t even an option. To say it’s a rare result is an understatement. It’s so rare, the doctors didn’t even want anybody to think it was possible for the sake of not giving even a sliver of false hope. This is so much better than the best case scenario.

Now, I realize it isn’t over yet. There’s still a lot of fighting to do, and they may not shrink again. The reality is that it isn’t going to go away, but my brother has already been defying the rules and this fight just started. With his wife Angie, and my awesome niece and nephew Jess and Nick by his side the whole time, he’s got a great team fighting this with him.

This has all been such a burden on me, and has been beating me up inside since that Wednesday night a few months ago. I always had faith that Gary would fight this and would do amazing, and I always knew that he would make it far beyond the average life expectancy, but it’s still a very heavy thing to have to think about.

It’s a situation where any good news is such a breath of relief, and today we got SUPER AMAZING AWESOME news, so it’s hard not to be excited by that, no matter what lies ahead.

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