Terminal cancer is devastating to all the people involved. The person with cancer suffers from the disease and the survivors suffer from the consequences. I learned, just yesterday, that an old friend is dying from lung cancer and doesn’t have long to live.
I won’t mention more than first names out of respect for his family’s privacy. My wife, Josie, and I have known Bill and his wife, Nilda, for more than 35 years. We’ve known their children since they were born.
Bill and Nilda were having marital problems a few years ago. It had something to do with Nilda spending more time with one of her grandchildren than him. Nilda was talking to Josie through Facebook Messenger (I believe) at the time and Bill told Nilda to stop talking to Josie.
Nilda was trying to call Josie yesterday while we were at one of Josie’s doctor visits. Josie couldn’t answer her cell phone because we were physically with the doctor. When Josie tried to call her back after the visit, Nilda’s side of the call wouldn’t connect. I commented to Josie about the call and told her it was probably a divorce announcement.
When Josie finally connected with Nilda, a few hours later, she received the bad news. News that was much worse than a divorce could possibly be.
Bill was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer last year. That’s what it took for him to quit smoking. Smoking wasn’t necessarily the cause of his lung cancer but I’m sure it didn’t help with anything. I quit smoking in 2016 for other reasons, obviously, and it was probably the best health decision I ever made.
Bill went through chemotherapy until December of last year. His doctor stopped because the therapy would kill Bill before the cancer would. He’s only expected to live until sometime this month.
Josie and I talked to Nilda and one of her daughters, Kim, to find out what’s going on. Kim lives and works in Colorado, but she’s allowed to work remotely from Arizona. I don’t know how long she’ll be staying with Nilda. I don’t even know how long Nilda will stay in the United States. Bill wants her to move back to the Philippines.
I spoke to Bill briefly and it was very difficult to see him suffer the way he’s suffering. He’s taking some very strong pain killers and can barely stay awake. I can’t help but empathize with him (and his family). He’s a retired United States Marine, like me, and he’s married to a Filipino, like me.
I don’t have all the details and I really don’t want to know all the details. As I said, Bill wants Nilda to move back to the Philippines. The way I understand it, he wants her to live with us in Olongapo. Nilda was born on the same island and province as Josie (Leyte) and has siblings still living there. Living with us wouldn’t be an issue for us since she can take care of herself financially. And… we have two spare bedrooms in our house.
Bill gets a military pension and a social security pension. He’s only four years older than I am. Nilda is eligible for social security payments but Bill wants her to wait to file until after he’s gone. His pension is way higher than hers would be. The way I understand it, she can receive his social security pension as a survivor benefit instead of her own as a retirement benefit. Even though Bill’s dying, he’s still concerned about Nilda’s well-being.
They have three children. Kim has her own family, Christine is a single mother and I don’t know anything about Anthony. Bill doesn’t want Nilda to live with any of them. Again, I don’t have all the details.
Since I probably won’t speak to Bill again before he passes away, the only thing I can do is wish him Godspeed to his final destination.