Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Loss in Our Community

Matthew Thelen, "Karkan Lord," 1979-2020.

This has probably happened before. Because of the anonymous nature of commenting on this blog, I know only a few of my many commenters' real names. It is likely that some of them have passed over the years and I may have noticed that we lost that handle, but not that the world had lost that person.
   
This time happens to be different. Matthew Thelen, who commented here a few times as "Karkan Lord," died the first week of December 2020 of early onset colorectal cancer. He was 41. His sister was kind enough to write to me via my Patreon page, where Matt had been a subscriber since my first month. Matt worked behind-the-scenes at NBC Sports; the episode of "Sunday Night Football" that aired after his death contained this tribute to him.
 
Matt's family has designated the Colon Cancer Foundation as the best recipient for donations in his memory. I will be sending half of my January Patreon earnings to that organization on behalf of this blog and its commenters. I naturally encourage anyone willing and able to make a contribution in Matt's name to do so.

The other half, I will be sending to the foundation designated by the family of a longtime co-worker of mine, who recently died of a heart attack, only one week after he retired.  He was not yet 60.

From these two deaths, we can perhaps take a lesson to take better care of ourselves. I know that as I near 50, I have to stop thinking of certain bad habits as "something I will conquer some day" and more like "something I'd better conquer right now if I don't want to die before my mother does." In that spirit, I pass along Matt's sister's plea: "Have your own screening done for colon cancer. A colonoscopy can identify a problem, particularly if you have no symptoms of the disease (as Matt had none). It is a minor inconvenience that can make a significant difference!"

32 comments:

  1. Everybody reading, please get yourself checked early and checked often. People only think of cancer as something that happens to old people, or people that make poor health decisions. The reality is it can happen to anybody, at any time, for seemingly no reason. I'm coming up on my third year of battling lymphoma, I was diagnosed at stage 4 and I often think how things might be different if it had been caught sooner. So please, take it seriously and get yourself checked.

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    1. I'm so sorry for the struggles you are facing with your health. You will remain in my thoughts! You are right-- cancer does not discriminate, and there is not always a logical reason. Just be diligent about your health. Thank you for advocating for that!

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    2. I am sending you tons of healing vibes... I hope you can feel them. Wishing you all the best. You are a warrior!

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  2. I'm an oncologist so I see the effects of missed screening opportunities far too often... colonoscopy at age 45-50, mammograms at age 40, PSA screening (complicated, but ask your doctor at 40...), screening for cervical cancer, and general healthy living and screening for common conditions can lead to a longer and happier life too!

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    1. Thank you for the very, very important work that you do. And thank you for advocating for health screenings!

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  3. Aw man, I'm sorry for your losses. 41 and <60 too early obviously. Sending you peace from Columbus Ohio. -Dave Walsh

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    1. Thank you so much, Dave. Please remain safe and well!

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  4. My older brother died of colon cancer when he was 35; I get screened every 3 years or so because of that. It's apparently way more common in younger people now, which is pretty distressing.

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    1. My heart goes out to you. This grief is so strong.
      My siblings and I, and all of our children, will be receiving early and regular screenings. This disease is the largest of evils.
      Be safe and be well.

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    2. I'm so profoundly sorry for your loss. It is devastating. I'm glad you are being proactive about your own screenings. Please be well!

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    3. Thanks; it was quite a while ago, and time heals.

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  5. Thanks for this post Chet. I think paying respects like this is important.

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  6. Condolences to the family for their loss.

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  7. My condolences to the family as well. Getting tested for these things regularly may be scary but it is also the only way to pick them up early.

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  8. Thank you, thank you, so much for this. Matt (my youngest brother) was the picture of health. He went to the gym daily, ate organic food, used his own homemade natural shampoo, and would never even use a microwave! Perhaps an early screening would have caught Matt’s disease. I will be 47 this weekend and had my first screening at 42, which my doctors viewed as early. It would still have been too late for Matt had he done the exact same thing as me (he would have turned 42 three weeks from tomorrow). I guess that is part of the evil of cancer. There are just no guarantees and it can take ANYONE.
    Thank you again for this post and for your generous donation. My heart goes out to you and to everyone here who has suffered a loss, be it to cancer or anything else. I would never wish this on my worst enemy.
    I will be taking up the reins and have become one of your supporters on Patreon. I know that is what Matt would have wanted.
    Be safe and be well!
    -Kat, Matt’s eldest sister

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    1. I have become a supporter as well, in Matt's memory and honor ❤️

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  9. Wow. This is such an incredibly thoughtful post. My name is Kristin, and I am Matt's other sister (you referenced Kat in the post, who was Matt's angel on Earth and primary caregiver). Thank you so much for your words, sentiments, and your incredibly generous gesture. My family will absolutely never recover from this but one of our hopes is that others can be spared this pain and immense loss by being aware and diligent. Thanks again xoxo

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  10. My mother died of the same thing. Zero symptoms until she had intense pain in her side that she went and got checked out. The pain was her liver, which the colon cancer had spread to. She was Stage 4 and with intense chemo only lasted a few months. Get yourself checked out, people.

    Let me put this in words that anyone here should understand: Cancer is very skilled in Stealth, and will sneak up and backstab you without warning. Do your Perception checks.

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    1. Oh, I am so, so sorry for your loss. It is devastating. Yes, cancer is SNEAKY and knows no bounds. Be diligent.

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    2. Kyosho... I am so sorry to hear this. This is the exact thing that my brother experienced. He had no symptoms other than fatigue. He began an aggressive chemo regimen after he healed from emergency surgery after diagnosis. Even undergoing nuclear chemo, his nuclear cancer had spread to his liver. He was the most valiant fighter, battling to the end (he fought hard for six months), but the disease was a behemoth. He went out like a boss. I marvel at the strength and courage with which he faced his ordeal. I will miss him forever.
      I know the same goes for you. I wish you peace. Your mother will always be with you.

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  11. My condolences to the family. Last year I lost a very close friend who was in the early 20s due to a hemorrhagic seizure. Extremely healthy, very good habits, also a fan of cRPG.

    From the extreme south of Brazil, I wish peace for you all.

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    1. Thank you so much, and I am so sorry for your loss too... Peace for you as well!

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  12. My daughter is a year into battling her brain cancer at 8 (soon to be 9) years old, my uncle was, just last week, diagnosed with lung cancer, and a good friend of my wife's was diagnosed with esophageal cancer two weeks ago.

    This stuff is everywhere around me all of a sudden.

    To echo Kyosho above, not only does Cancer play with a stealth-heavy build, it also has access to the console and isn't above cheating now and then.

    Stay vigilant and let's all take our health and lifestyles seriously in 2021.

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    1. I am so, so sorry that this is happening to your loved ones. Your precious daughter, uncle, and friend will remain in my thoughts and prayers. ❤️

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    2. You and your little warrior are in my thoughts. I am sending her every ounce of healing and strength in my arsenal!!

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    3. To your uncle and friend as well!

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