My brother was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in late October 2000. He was 48 years old.
The news was startling. The doctors gave him four weeks to live. A lot of the time when someone gets diagnosed, there is a period to build up to that. This wasn’t the case for my brother.
I didn’t know what to do when I heard about the diagnosis. I didn’t know how to respond or what the next four weeks would look like. My brother was always full of energy — bigger than life. You just think, why him? It was a sad time.
When I saw my brother the first time after his diagnosis, all I could do was hug him and tell him I was going to walk through it with him — although neither of us knew what that would entail.
My brother was given the option to see if he could be a part of a clinical trial. The physician at the treatment center told him that he wouldn’t be able to save his life, but he believed he could extend it.
After he started the trial, my brother had a good quality of life for about three years before he passed away. I was very thankful for that. We had some good times, and we were able to have closure.
Medicine is a remarkable thing. Over those three years, I became amazed at what medicine and technology can do. I don’t know the progressions they’ve made since then, but the ability to extend life is pretty evident.
I didn’t want my brother to suffer. The best thing I could do for him was to spend time with him. We didn’t have to do anything. We shared life as it came. We didn’t talk about business or things that are fleeting, we talked about life. That was sweet. Very cherishable times.
Cherish each moment. Share life in a way that has a much greater level of intimacy. Say the things you want to say, and experience what you can experience.
My brother was happy to have closure. He was glad to have the opportunity to share life and give life to those around him. Those were good things for him. He had a much deeper intentionalism in his pursuit of God… that intimacy was greater than his fear of death. It was powerful for me to hear him say that.
Through my brother’s time living with RCC, I learned the importance of relationships. Love is a blessing to you and those who want to love you. I learned how to allow people to love me and accept their love… to embrace them.
Life can be hard. Having relationships is so important in walking this journey. Be intentional about them and embrace them.
Andrew Scruggs is a Knoxville native and the owner of Always Best Care of Knoxville. Through his caregiving experience and training, he hopes to provide others with the assistance they need in seeking proper and meaningful care.