It was an ordinary day. The sun was up and we were all going about our business as usual when my wife had a very out of ordinary call from her father that stopped her dead in her tracks. It was not long before that call that Marianne, my wife, had made quite an insightful statement about her parents being great health.
It is always a concern as we watch are parents age. I had had to come to terms with my own father developing Alzheimer's at the age of 65. I had tried to come to terms with it, but it is not something that's easily done. I would have to say it's more something you learn to live with knowing it is not going to get better only gradually worse. I would miss that relationship a father has with a son as my father grew less cognitive. Al, Marianne's father would come along side me with advice and tips from time to time - the jewels of life that money can't buy. Al became one of those pillars in life that a father (then) 6 would need from time to time.
On that ordinary day back in July 2007, my wife was contacted by Al who informed her that he had been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer and that the prognosis did not look good. That was our introduction to the crippling disease of pancreatic cancer. We took it upon ourselves to research the disease and what we found out troubled us. Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Pancreatic cancer has the highest mortality rate of all major cancers and a 94% mortality rate.
This information crushed the family who were wanting answers but not finding it easy to come to terms with. I remember telling my wife that we should plan on visiting her parents as regularly as we could. There was little change at first. Al seemed his usual self and was always very happy to see us. As his course of treatment continued he deteriorated quickly.
It was a short 2.5 months from diagnosis until Al passed away and became another statistic for the disease. I was glad to have met such a man during my life; a successful man surrounded by a loving family - one of those sound men with a good moral virtue - a pillar in life where you could always find fair reasoning. Although 4 years ago now there is not a day that goes by where we don't think about Al and wish he was here. He has left a lasting impression in my mind of what it means to be a man.
Our company, WorldWind Productions LLC, has joined together to support the Hirsburg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research by giving 100 documentaries of Wild Eyes The Abby Sunderland Story and a percentage of all online sales. Abby Sunderland, Al's granddaughter was awarded the Hero Award last year at the Hirshburg Annual fun run, the LA Cancer Challenge.
|Zac receiving the Hero Award - 2009|
If you want to take part in this years annual run or learn more about the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research visit: www.pancreatic.org.
You can hope or you can help.
Al and Carol Criqui with our daughter Lydia