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Alert Number 286

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Date: July 4, 2008

Today we posted my husband PC’s obituary ( ) on CLL Topics website. Thus ends an era and a chapter in my life that will remain fresh in my memory for as long as I live.  I need to mourn for a while, but I promise you I will be back to continue the work that he and I started soon after his diagnosis of CLL. I cannot think of better use of my remaining years in this world.

What is the take home message from PC’s transplant saga? Should “Harvey” (thinly disguised pseudonym for PC, who no longer needs the privacy protection it afforded) have gone “gently into that good night”? Would he have been better off if he had not fought his very aggressive form of CLL, taken his chances as they came?

Not on your life!  Fighting to stay healthy, fighting to keep in good shape, fighting to avoid infections and making prudent therapy choices gave PC seven years with excellent quality of life. Barring the backrooms of oncologists’ offices when he was getting infusions, PC was never in a hospital in all these years. He worked out, hiked hard, enjoyed his life and his family. We had memorable vacations in England, south of France, beautiful Oregon coast where we watched whales migrate. We watched our daughter grow up to be a lovely and strong woman of character and warmth. We made a lot of new friends.

PC made the choice to go for a double cord stem cell transplant when it became clear he was fludarabine refractory right up front, his karyotype showed ever more bizarre deletions and mutations, and everything pointed to a messy and early end to his story if he dithered too long. He did everything he could to make the odds a little bit better for himself. He had a lot to live for, and he fought hard to grow old with me. And we almost won the jack pot!

In the final analysis, it was not to be. But I take great pride in how he lived his life in the face of adversity. He stuck to his guns right up to the end and went out with his flags flying high. He died as he had lived, with courage and dignity. Below is the poem by Dylan Thomas, probably one of his most famous. I am told he was an odd looking fella, but chicks dug him.  Well, PC was an odd looking fella as well, but this chick surely dug him. If his story and his dedication to your cause over the last seven years of his life makes the path forward just a bit easier for even a few patients, he would have been proud.

I will be back. Please wait for me.




Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


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