[backdated with dasBlog]
OK, I know you really come here for C++ stuff and the occasional picture of autumn leaves, but there are some things I want you to do. First of all, if you're the donating type, and you want to make a donation in my Dad's memory, please don't give it to those "cancer is a word, not a sentence" people. Nothing they did helped him. (Research is fine, just all that cheer-up-it's-not-so-bad stuff bothers me.) He died two days short of the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis, which is actually pretty good for esophageal cancer. The heroes in our minds are the VON. Back in August, had my dad stayed one more day in the hospital I believe he would have died there. Going home gave him many more months and gave us all more time with him and more time to come to grips with what was happening. The VON were what made that possible. Sometimes they came every day, sometimes every other, sometimes two and three times a day. They dealt with his abcess, his draining tube, his pain, his weakness, with all the things that would have otherwise had him in the hospital. They were always polite and respectful and supportive. They didn't bustle around like hospital nurses, bossing everyone and controlling their territory. You can donate to your local VON if you have one, or to the ones who helped Dad at VON of Greater Halifax, 7001 Mumford Road, Tower 1, Suite 300, Halifax NS, Canada B3L 4N9.
Second, if you ever have trouble swallowing, have a terrible acid stomach for which you regularly take antacids, or have a family member who died very quickly of "a growth in the throat" or something similar, go and ask your doctor to test you for Barrett's esophagus. That's about the only hope for prevention of this, the fastest-growing cancer in North America.
Third, no matter how old you are, it wouldn't hurt to talk to your family about your end of life wishes. Whether it's dying at home, what songs to play at the ceremony, or burial-vs-cremation, the decisions are so much easier when you actually know what the person would have wanted.