On what would have been your 50th birthday, I'm thinking of you, as I do everyday, Bret Perry; but you are basking the the radiant glow of Jesus, so that makes all the difference. Still, I am missing you, especially today.
Pictured, Bret Perry, the only brother I ever had, with his nephew and my son, Caleb Perry, at the wedding of Bret's daughter, Karin Kahan 4/17/13.
Bret lost his battle with cancer May 19, 2013.
Seven Years Out
Bret Perry is seven years out. The phrase “seven years out” means nothing to people who have never suffered from cancer or had a loved one battle the disease. However, to a cancer survivor the term means the same as life. Many famous names come to mind as cancer survivors, such as Christina Applegate, Lance Armstrong, Howie Mandel, Martina Navratilova, and Mandy Patinkin. Although famous people bring attention to the subject, close friends or family make it real. To watch a loved one survive recurring cancer has a major impact on a person.
Bret was first diagnosed with colon cancer seven years ago. He underwent surgery and rounds of chemotherapy. He received a good prognosis and thought he had dodged the bullet. At a later checkup, the cancer had returned but not in his colon. This time the cells were in his liver.
After numerous treatments of radiation and chemotherapy, once again the devastating disease seemed to have been defeated. Bret was weak and understandably changed from having undergone the ordeal. He lost every hair on his head and a great deal of weight. Nonetheless, his outlook on life remained positive. He never gave up. His smile stayed real; his eyes still twinkled with boyish mischief. Bret’s attitude impressed many people.
Bret appeared to have won another battle. A few visits to the doctor looked good. Then, the shocker came. Although Bret had never smoked a cigarette in his life, cancer attacked his lungs. Bret had another fight to endure. Through it all, he has inspired many.
Health professionals who have treated him, did not give him until the end of 2011. Bret is still alive. He has held his three granddaughters, and the last time I saw Bret, it was at an unexpected family funeral for which he flew in to be a pall bearer. Although no longer an actual family member, Bret’s embrace of me lingered. No words needed to be spoken for both of us to say, “I will always love you.”
At the last report, Bret’s cancer had not left, but it had not grown. Nobody has a clue what caused these various forms of cancer. Could it be the cadmium he was exposed to for so many years in working with carbide tools? Could it be something he came in contact with in his research for Pfizer? There is no answer.
Bret Perry’s face will never appear on the cover of Time, Newsweek, or Sports Illustrated as a cancer survivor or an inspiration to millions because he is not famous. He is merely a friend, a son, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a brother, a nephew, a grandson, a son-in-law, and an uncle. If this beast called cancer finally defeats him, he will not be on the national news. Bret will be an unsung hero. Yet, he has influenced many in at least two states, his home state of Mississippi and Connecticut, his chosen state of residence. His optimism and fortitude, his humor and determination, his love and devotion have warmed hearts and surprised caregivers. Bret Perry is seven years out.