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by Belinda Olivas   |   April 3, 2019

Letting Go

John had been experiencing unusual symptoms on and off for about a year before his prostate cancer diagnosis – stage 3 almost 4. We were devastated but hoped that surgery and radiation therapy would take care of things. That wasn’t the case. Thirty minutes into surgery to remove a mass, the urologist came out of the operating room to tell me and my son that he was unable to remove the tumor. It had grown into the bladder wall and rectum and if he removed it, John would bleed to death. We were referred to an oncologist who told us John would begin radiation therapy shortly after surgery to shrink the tumor, then follow up with chemotherapy.

From 2009 until 2014, John had one round of radiation therapy and three rounds of chemo.  Then on November 1st, 2014, the oncologist gave us the dreaded news. “We have exhausted all options here for treatment. You can, of course, go to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to participate in clinical trials. However, there are no guarantees.”  John’s response was, “Well, I am not doing that. How much time do I have?” To which the doctor responded, “Two, maybe three months, tops.” John spent the next few months enjoying time with his family, and he and I spent time reading scripture together and praying.

John left this world on January 19, 2015 at 11:35 p.m. having only been in hospice for less than 48 hours. Initially given only two years to live, he surpassed the odds and lived for six.  His spirit was strong and we still feel his presence today. We see him in every squirrel that runs up a tree (he loved nature, especially squirrels), in every acorn we step over (he used to pick up acorns and toss them around our big oak tree, which had at least 1,000 surrounding it the day of his passing), and in every sunrise and sunset we enjoy. He is in all that, and so many other things he loved. But most of all, he is in our hearts.

To honor and remember John, I participated in the ZERO Austin Run/Walk last year. As I approached the finish line, a gentleman called out to me and asked for my help. So I took his hand. It filled my heart to help this prostate cancer survivor cross the finish line.  It truly made me feel like John was with me.