All posts tagged: death

She Did Not Go Gently

In August 2017, my wife Buffy was diagnosed with early onset colon cancer. She was 41 years old. In April 2019, she passed away. Our five-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son lost their mother. I lost my best friend. She and I were together half of our lives, married 18 of them. She did not want to die. She was an amazingly accomplished woman. Girl Scout Gold at 16, national first vice president of the Children of the American Revolution, and president of the university chapter of the Society of Women Engineers in undergrad. Bachelors in civil engineering from Georgia Tech, masters in construction management from Stanford, certified construction estimator. She built buildings. Big ones. Cool ones, that everybody loves. She was a talented woman in a male dominated industry. To my knowledge, she succeeded at every single thing she ever set her mind to, save beating cancer. Her face lives in the Atlanta skyline. There was never any hope, if we’re being objective. Her first CT scan showed a major obstruction of the colon, twenty …

How My Toxic Stoicism Helped Me Cope with Brain Cancer

Under normal circumstances—e.g. in a time when the American Psychological Association (APA) has not released guidelines questioning whether norms associated with “traditional masculinity” (e.g. stoicism) are harmful to the mental health of men, and a shaving commercial is not being run that criticizes “toxic masculinity”—I would be reluctant to publicly share a story of personal adversity that, as a sometime aficionado of existentialist philosophy, I know I must ultimately face alone. But in the spirit of opening up, here goes. I have brain cancer. Not the kind that killed John McCain, Ted Kennedy, or Beau Biden. At least not yet. I am afflicted with a low-grade glioma (specifically, a grade-2 infiltrative astrocytoma). My neurosurgeon informs me that experts do not distinguish between benign and malignant brain tumors. Instead, they distinguish between low-grade and high-grade tumors, the point being that all brain tumors naturally progress to death. There is no cure. High-grade simply gets you there faster. In the words of one study, “all low grade gliomas eventually progress to high grade glioma and death.” In …