Terminal cancer is devastating to all the people involved. The person with cancer suffers from the disease and the survivors suffer from the consequences. In March 2020, I learned an old friend was dying from lung cancer, and he died a few days later.
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 in 2019. 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 2019. His doctor stopped it because the therapy would kill Bill before the cancer would. He was only expected to live until March and that’s exactly how much time he had left.
Josie and I talked to Nilda and one of her daughters, Kim, to find out what was going on. Kim was living and working in Colorado, but she was allowed to work remotely from Arizona. I don’t know how long Nilda will stay in the United States. Bill wanted her to move back to the Philippines.
I spoke to Bill briefly and it was very difficult to see him suffer the way he was suffering. He was taking some very strong pain killers and could barely stay awake. I couldn’t help but empathize with him (and his family). He was a retired United States Marine, like I am, and he was married to a Filipino, like I am.
I didn’t have all the details and I really didn’t want to know all the details. As I said, Bill wanted Nilda to move back to the Philippines. The way I understood it, he wanted 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 was getting a military pension and a social security pension. He was only four years older than I was. Nilda was eligible for social security payments but Bill wanted her to wait to file until after he was gone, which is what she did. His social security pension was way higher than hers would have been.
They have three surviving children. Kim has her own family, Christine is a single mother and I don’t know anything about Anthony. Bill didn’t want Nilda to live with any of them. Again, I didn’t have all the details.
I never spoke to Bill again and Josie has spoken to Nilda only twice since then. Nilda’s living with Anthony now, and she’ll probably continue living with him until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.