Mike O’Brien

Mike O’Brien (Canadian Actor – Corner Gas as Wes Humboldt) wrote the following obituary for ‘cancer’ (still no capital ‘c’) in the hopes that one day, a date will fill the blank and the obituary will reflect the truth.  I love it.


On ______, our good friend, Cancer, passed away.

After a long, courageous battle with medical science, Cancer finally couldn’t fight any longer, and succumbed to the efforts of researchers who plagued it.

Cancer is mourned by the Spanish Flu, Ebola, AIDS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and the bird flu. He is predeceased by the plague and the Spanish flu.

Honorary pallbearers are asbestos, the tobacco industry and many other carcinogens, too numerous to mention here.

While to many people, cancer was an odious dusting of dog shit on the sole of humanity, we knew a different cancer. Yes, he could be opinionated, stubborn and fatal. It’s true that, even now, millions are celebrating in the streets at the demise of this cowardly, mean-spirited and reprehensible creature.

But we knew a different cancer. A world traveller, a mal vivant. Cancer touched so many lives. He always said he was most proud of how many people had met and affected, for better or worse but, obviously, mostly for the worse.

His childhood was a happy one, when his nicknames included  ‘Suspicious Mole,’ ‘Biggie Lymph Node,’ and ‘Lumpy.’ It was in adulthood, in the 20th Century, when he truly made a name for himself. Cancer’s popularity exploded during this time, and he was always surrounded by so many of his favourite tumours.

Cancer wanted to say a fond farewell to radiation, surgery and his long-time ‘frenemy’ chemotherapy. They butted heads with him constantly but he respected them, and even said they made him stronger in many ways, as he learned new techniques in response to their efforts.

Cancer’s actitivites slowed in recent years, thanks to thousands of researchers and doctors, and the efforts of fundraising foundations around the globe, who he often said “made the road bumpier.”

Special thanks our friends in the tobacco industry, who did so much to help Cancer throughout his career.

What a selfish piece of shit.

—  Mike O’Brien, May 4, 2015


As for Ben, he is slowly recovering from the surgery.  He has now gone a full week without food, so as you can imagine he has very little energy.  We are trying to get him to start eating, but the days of vomiting right after having his stomach cut open have taken their toll, and he is afraid to have much food.  We are working hard on getting his energy levels back up.  Today he was able to walk down the hall and back, and sit in a chair for about ten minutes before needing to lay back in bed.  That was an improvement.  Small steps.  Yesterday we took him outside in a wheelchair for some sunshine, which he enjoyed.  Today he didn’t have the energy for it, but we’ll try again tomorrow morning.

His NG tube was removed this morning, however his PPT (prothrombin time – the measure of time it takes his blood to clot) has been too low with each blood test.  Basically…despite taking Heparin to thin his blood, his blood was still too thick.  We met with one of the doctors today who was trying to figure out why Ben wasn’t reacting properly to the Heparin.  After about 5 minutes of asking questions she finally asked him how much he weighed.  Ben answered 240 lbs (in reality he is now 230, down from 250 when he entered the hospital) and the doctor said, “Well there’s the answer.  They have been giving you a Heparin dosage based on 180 lbs.”  Duh.  Really?  As flattering as that is, Ben is nowhere near 180 lbs, and I hope to God he never is.  So they have adjusted the dosage again and hopefully now it will work.  When he comes home we will have do injections of Heparin into his stomach for the next few months.  Small price to pay.

In addition to the blood clot, Ben has teetered on the edge of getting pneumonia for the last couple of days.  His lung is crackly, so we have been working hard on getting him to breathe deeply and have conversations with people.  The problem is that he often falls asleep when people are trying to talk to him.  Ben and I have taken to practicing yoga breathing when he is sitting in his chair (5 seconds in, hold for 2, 5 seconds out).  The problem is that he only has the strength to get in the chair once a day. Maybe twice on a good day.  I don’t know if that is enough to keep that pneumonia away.

He has 35 staples in his stomach.  Dr S did an impressive job.  I have a feeling that scar will eventually barely be noticeable. The wound itself has healed so quickly that Ben was able to take a brief shower today and let the water run right over it.  He was very happy to finally be able to wash up, but despite being able to sit on a chair in the shower he was totally wiped out afterwards.  Exhausted. Still, we will try for a bit more each day until he builds up some strength.  In the meantime, we have time to do some of this:


At this point we still have no idea when he will able to come home.  He needs to be able to move around a bit better first, but we will keep working on it each day.  He will definitely need to be eating more.  One little square of jello won’t cut it! Tomorrow I am bringing him a bit of food from home in the hopes that it will tempt him a bit.  Maybe he will be home by Father’s Day. Wouldn’t that be a treat for our family?!

In the meantime, we are keeping our eye on the prize which is our vacation this summer.  Dr K says he will discuss the possibility of us going away after Ben’s next CT on the 7th.  So keep your fingers crossed.  The most generous Vlchek family have offered us the use of their condo in Hawaii (which happens to be Ben’s most favorite place on earth) so it would literally make Ben’s year if we were able to go.  And Kim / Steve …I have no words that could adequately express our appreciation for your offer. “Thank you” never seems like enough, but we are most grateful.  You have to know how excited Ben is at the prospect of going back to Hawaii, when he is willing to entertain sitting on a plane for six hours!

I am desperate for sleep so I will say good night.  Tomorrow is another day.

cancer – what a selfish piece of shit.


9 thoughts on “Mike O’Brien

  1. Recovery is a long journey and I wish I was there to help you through it all.Cancer is a most annoying piece of s—!!!! Here is hoping that the proper dose of Meds will perk Ben up and give him the energy to eat… And pneunomia : you are not invited so stay away!! Love you and miss you all. Hang in there , Hawaii is prepping for your visit❤️❤️❤️


  2. HAWAII!!! Wahoo! I can’t think of a better place to kick back and recover while kicking cancer’s ass! If it doesn’t work out that Ben can travel in the summer, you are welcome to one of our timeshare condos in Mexico in the fall. There’s also a lot available in Florida, pretty much year round :0).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe the heparin story. That is crazy. I hope he is starting to feel better now with the right dosage. Eat up Ben so you can get stronger and get out of the hospital and away from all those nasty germs.

    On a side note I just came home from the chiropractor (for my back) but I confessed to him that I am recovering from a cold and was worried about getting him sick. He asked my symptoms and I said I grew up in a ‘pulp mill’ town and both my brother and I have weak lungs and suffer from bronchitis often. Anyway he said he could help, used some funky machines and oils on me then had me use a tube to ‘huff apple brandy fumes’ out of an mini keg! Okay, that was a first for me but since it seemed so fun (and harmless), of course I was game. He said it is an old school treatment for pneumonia. So long story short Wendy, if all else fails you might want to smuggle in a Mickey of Apple Brandy and some sort of huffer tube for Ben. Also, please have someone video tape this just in case you get busted on the way in! 😂

    We will be so happy when Ben is well enough and you get to Hawaii. If the dates get pushed back that is just fine, but I sure hope he’ll be good to go by August.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well the sounds like a pretty cool chiropractor. Did it work? I love alternative natural treatments to supplement western medicine. I look forward to a day when the two really do work together. Naturopathic treatment gets a bad rap.


      • He is an excellent chiropractor, I’m very lucky, especially because he’s close to our house. He also has an oxygen machine that I used as well. And I do feel better! Maybe I was already recovering, maybe placebo effect, but possibly it’s his treatment, either way I’m happy. I hope you can say the same for Ben soon.


        • I don’t really believe that it matters so much whether something works because of the medicinal effect or because of a placebo effect. (And isn’t “placebo effect” really just another way of saying that our amazing brains really do know how to heal our bodies?). All that really matters is that a body heals. One can call something a placebo effect, but if believing that the herbs / supplements one takes do make them feel better, that’s really all that matters.

          Liked by 2 people

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