The prostate cancer community (and the breast cancer community) lost a giant and a great friend, Aubrey Pilgrim, who died of a brain tumor on June 23rd at age 84. I wrote a tribute to Aubrey back in May when he first announced his diagnosis (See “Aubrey, How We Will Miss You”, 5/17). I hope you will take a minute to read it.
Even though I only knew Aubrey a short time I recognized that he was special. An original thinker. So I asked him to write a guest piece for the blog and he did: (See “Icons: Aubrey Pilgrim,” etc., 7/14/08). Aubrey was a mainstay of several online PC mailing lists and newsgroups for at least 15 years. He shared his humor, wit and wisdom with thousands of people. And he comforted many. I appreciated Aubrey’s contributions even though I sometimes disagreed with him about substance. Best thing about Aubrey was that he was a fun, interesting person, full of warmth. And a true gentleman. Have to admit it’s a bit old-fashioned, but I liked the way he always addressed me as “Dear” — and always signed his letters with “Love, Aubrey”.
Aubrey also did a service to the PC community by writing a popular book about prostate cancer, along with a well-known doctor, David Crawford. The book is available for *free* online. A Revolutionary Approach to Prostate Cancer– http://www.cancer.prostate-help.org/capilgr.htm.
I would have to say, because he would have wanted me to, that part of Aubrey’s legacy to the PC community was an implacable opposition to prostate cancer surgery. Sometimes I thought he went too far. At the same time I recognize that Aubrey’s strong words may have saved some men with PC from having unnecessary surgery. Or at least made them think before rushing in for treatment.
I felt very privileged to be one of the first to hear about Aubrey’s passing. His many friends had been sending him mail, and so we got periodic updates about his condition. But at some point Aubrey stopped answering and we lost touch. One day I noticed that there were some new comments submitted to this blog about the article I had written about Aubrey back in May. Turns out Aubrey’s niece and great-niece, Pam and Megan Welch, had added lovely tributes, and that’s how I found out about his death.
I then posted notices in the various PC groups. People started sending me letters to forward to Aubrey’s family. What strikes me is how much love and affection Aubrey’s relatives had for him. They are interested in *literally having a copy of everything he’s ever written*. That would take a lifetime to compile, so I have been forwarding to the family many of the messages that had been written in Aubrey’s honor (minus e-mail addresses). It got to be a bit overwhelming, so I suggested the family read the tributes in online PC groups like PPML, the Circle, PCAI and many other forums. I also got letters to forward to the family from breast cancer survivors, and I learned that Aubrey’s wife had had BC and that he had been an active participant in some related forums. Aubrey lost his beloved second wife, Susan, this year, and he took it very hard.
People were asking if there was an obituary, and the family said they would send one as soon as possible. So I want to share with you what I received from Aubrey’s niece, Pam, although the obit is short and does not address Aubrey’s many accomplishments. In addition to being a PC advocate, Aubrey was a licensed chiropractor as well as the author of 50 books on computers for McGraw Hill. (I am going to post Aubrey’s obituary in a separate post so that people who just want to look at that can find it easily. Also will append any future updates from the family.)
After learning of his illness, Aubrey wrote a poem about the “certainty of his going to hell” (even though he was an atheist):
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
My personal tribute to Aubrey is this: if there is a heaven, I’m sure Aubrey is there — raising hell. Let’s just say the joke’s on him.
The best way to honor Aubrey Pilgrim would be to make a donation to a prostate cancer charity. I suggest Malecare.com, the sponsor of my blog.