Hey guys, my dad passed away last week at the age of 64 after battling stomach cancer for 7 months. Unfortunately, by the time the symptoms occurred and he started receiving treatment the cancer had already metastasized to other organs. Not knowing what’s going to happen the next week, month or even the next day is a horrible feeling…because you can take absolutely nothing for granted. Last Thursday was the worst day of my life… my sister, my mom and myself had to call relatives and friends and explain what happened, deal with all the bureaucratic bs, call an undertaker, choose a coffin etc. all the things you never want to deal with in your life. I was very sad and also very angry when I received the news of his disease. The Why question is of course common among patients and relatives alike. Why did he deserve this? On one hand, my sister and myself didn't want to lose our dad which is perfectly normal. But most importantly, he and my mother deserved to enjoy their retirement for more years than they did. In their 32 years of marriage they never had any major arguments. At the same time, I was very fortunate to have a loving father for 26 years who taught me so many things. I try to stay positive and think about all the great memories, although it’s difficult to do so at the moment. No one should ever go through this, but the harsh reality is millions of people around the world have to endure similar or even worse pain… parents in Newtown who lost their children in such a tragic way, it makes me sick to the stomach. A couple of years ago, one of our neighbors, a mother of 3 had a stroke and passed away. Recently, I read about a highly pregnant 28 year old woman who got hit by a car and died as well. Sadly, such incidents happen every single day. At least we got the chance to say goodbye. I talked to a lot of people in recent months and read tons of articles etc. about cancer, Genetics etc. and it really makes you realize that it’s an illusion to think that nowadays everyone dies at 90 without going though much pain despite major advances in medicine and increased life expectancy. It’s gut-wrenching seeing a loved one suffering so much and gradually becoming weaker and losing weight, hair etc. Even if you know it's going to be tough, I don’t think you can ever fully prepare for a disease and ultimately the death of a parent, sibling or friend. you want to do as much as you can but at the same time you’re feeling helpless He was always a humble, kind and hard working man who cared about other people more than about himself. At the same time, he enjoyed life and was happy which is so important. I’m very fond of a quote by Abraham Lincoln: “In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.” After all, life is for living. What’s the point of being 80 years old if you never really lived? This year was in many ways an amazing year for myself, with the one major exception that makes everything else seem irrelevant. I graduated in early June, took classes at Harvard during the summer and moved to the UK in September for Graduate school. I know all the good things that happened this year are important but it’s difficult to appreciate all of it when your dad has a deadly disease. My sister’s getting married in late May next year. My dad was very happy about her engagement but I wish he could have walked her down the aisle. He was always very proud of my sister and myself and wanted us to continue our lives despite his disease. Even during the last months of his life, he thought about other people and tried not to make it any harder on us, nurses, friends etc. After spending months at the hospital, he spent the last 7 weeks at home and passed away peacefully on December 20th. As some of you know, I’m quite critical of the Catholic Church and religion in general. He was a religious man and I’d be less cynical about religion if more people actually practiced their faith the way he did. The funeral and service took place on Saturday and it was comforting how many people attended and paid tribute to him. I don’t want to lose my optimism but it hurts so much, I miss him terribly.