A Lesson from Starman

Every once in a while you hear something, see something, read something…and learn a lesson or truth that you will never forget.

I had one such occurrence back in 1984 when I watched the movie “Starman”.


It’s not a classic or must see movie…just a goofy love story of an alien from outer space (Jeff Bridges) who takes on the form of the deceased husband of Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen).  The Starman thought he was visiting a friendly planet but his space ship was shot down and now he has just three days to rendezvous with the mother ship or he will die.  Meanwhile, the U.S. Army is in hot pursuit to capture and learn more about this alien visiting earth.

In the climatic moment near the end of the movie the Starman says to an Army scientist–

“You are a strange species, not like any other.  Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you [humans]? You are at your best when things are worst.”

In my battle with the big c, I have witnessed this truth over and over.  The concern, prayers, and above all love that I have experienced from literally hundreds of people has been incredible and uplifting.

When tragedy strikes, it is our human nature to reach out and help, especially when that tragedy occurs to someone close to us.

The clearest example of this on a nation-wide scale was the response to the 9/11 attack on our country.  It didn’t matter if you were Republican or Democrat…rich or poor…Christian or Atheist.  The United States of America stood as one unified nation and became a beacon of light to the world on how to respond to a tragedy that affected every American.

One of the things that bothers me about politics and religion is we focus on what divides us rather than recognize our common ground and try to appreciate, learn, and grow from each other.  For all of us, our ultimate goal is to create as good of a life as possible for ourselves, our family, as especially for our future generations.

We live in the greatest country in the history of the world and I believe that the United States will stand strong for many, many more years.

Sadly, I also believe it will continue to take tragedy for us to appreciate what we  have and before we stand united to protect the freedom we enjoy.

Humans are at their best when things are worst.

Medical/Personal Update

I learned a lot more about my disease after attending a Pancreatic Cancer Strategic Awareness Meeting held recently in New York City.  The goal of this group is to increase awareness of the breakthrough’s that are occurring in the fight against the deadliest of all cancers.

About 46,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer this year.  Nearly 40,000 people die from the disease each year, roughly the same number as will die from breast cancer.

The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is just 6%.  For patients like me, where the disease has already spread to the liver, the five-year survival rate is less than 2%.

The problem is two-fold.  First, by the time most people are diagnosed with the disease it’s too late for effective treatment.  And secondly, until recently the chemotherapy to combat the disease didn’t prolong life it merely alleviated the suffering.

But there is hope!  Scientific breakthroughs are occurring…new chemotherapy regimen’s are working…potentially life-saving drugs are being tested.  And most importantly, scientists are learning more about the genes that lead to pancreatic cancer and are developing ways for early detection of the disease.

Pancreatic cancer is the number four killer among cancers and is projected to move up to the number two spot in just five years.  Yet, pancreatic cancer receives just 2% of federal cancer research dollars.

Our group is hoping to dramatically increase the amount of funding for pancreatic research…because we are on the verge of some dramatic breakthroughs.

Hopefully, I will be an example of the new hope that now exists for pancreatic patients.  I will have my next scan in two weeks.  My doctor and I are cautiously optimistic that my tumors have continued to shrink with the possibility of even going into remission.

Next Stop: Make this your best year yet!