The online prostate cancer community was struck with a tragedy last week.  We found out that one of our “elders”, Aubrey Pilgrim, a vital man of 84, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and given 4-6 months to live.  I am still trying to absorb the shock of this.  I’ve been depressed about it all week.  Who wouldn’t be? But the price of making friends is losing them.

Aubrey is a remarkable person — in fact I wrote about him here (see “Icons: Aubrey Pilgrim, PC Expert and Agnostic”) . http://prostatecancerblog.net/?p=155   This man has been a mainstay of several online PC mailing lists and newsgroups for years and has shared his wisdom with thousands of people.  He is not just intelligent, but funny and witty.  I appreciate his contributions even though I sometimes disagree with him about substance.

I can’t imagine how it feels to be told to wrap up your affairs at once, you only have a few months left.  Aubrey has shown a lot of grace under pressure but has still not adjusted to his situation fully — he says he thinks this is all a nightmare and one day he will awaken  from this bad dream.  I wish.  Aubrey retired to Idaho a few years ago and has a lovely granddaughter who is caring for him, and I have to say he is more concerned about her well-being than his own.  He has announced that he will enter hospice soon.  That will be a sad day for all of us. 

Aubrey is still updating the folks on the PC mailing lists about his condition — AND writing poetry for us.  I will share some of it with you in a minute.   

Of course, people are heaping prayers upon Aubrey and I can’t help but think about the irony of it all.  Aubrey was raised in a Methodist orphanage, but that experience somehow gave him a longstanding aversion to religion.  He is a staunch atheist and even wrote an essay about it here. 

The truth is, when our time is up, we all worry about the same things: atoning for our sins and going to hell.  In fact, when Aubrey first informed us about his condition he wrote:  “I’m OK with all this, but the only problem I have is that I can’t atone for all my sins in this short time period”.  And today he wrote a poem about hell:

My Fate

I’m forced to face a factual crisis,
In heaven I’ll never dwell.
With all my sins and faults and vices,
I’ll be lucky to go to hell.

Not so. 

Aubrey is the type of guy who’s attached to his laptop.  So I want to ask you all a favor: take a minute to send this wonderful man an encouraging note or say a prayer for him.  Aubrey’s cognition is good and he is reading his e-mails faithfully and loves getting mail from people — even strangers.  Aubrey’s email addrress is apilgrm@aol.com.

Aubrey has also done a service to the PC community by writing a book about this illness which is available for FREE online.   A Revolutionary Approach to Prostate Cancer-Read the original book for FREE at: http://www.prostatepointers.org/prostate/lay/apilgrim/.  Read new edition for FREE at http://www.cancer.prostate-help.org/capilgr.htm.

The only good thing about all this is that people are coming out of the woodwork — lurkers — and telling Aubrey how much they appreciate him.  I’m glad Aubrey is getting his tributes now — most people get them after they’re already in the grave.

Good luck, my friend.