August 7, 2013 is the 10th anniversary of death of my friend Peter Andreas Frank. Here's what I wrote on CTDATA.com, a few days after he passed away:
Last Thursday, Peter Andreas Frank died as a result of a brain tumor. I have known Peter for 15 years, and he is one of my best friends. We went to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute together.
Peter was in the Krankenhaus Nordwest in Frankfurt, Germany for the last two and one-half months of his life. He was often visited there by his family and friends that live in the Frankfurt region.
Peter's original brain tumor was discovered back in 1993. He outlived everyone's expectations, including the expectations of all of the doctors that consulted on his case. I went to visit him for the last time in May when he was still living in Zurich, Switzerland with his wife, Ramona Morel. At that time, most people familiar with his case thought he would die in late May or early June.
The way Peter and his family dealt with the last stages of his illness was courageous and amazing. Over the past few weeks, it was clear to me that Peter's wife and his father were reaching a point of emotional exhaustion. Yet, they bravely hung on to the end.
For the past month or so, it has been been painful for me to think about Peter's quality of life. I found myself torn between hoping for his quick and merciful death, and hoping for some sort of miraculous recovery that would allow him to be himself again.
When Ramona called me to say that he had died, I was more than a little surprised. None of the difficulties that had happened to him had managed to kill him before. After 10 years of struggle, it seemed like he could live on through almost anything.
Each summer for the last three years, I have read (or listened to) Lance Armstong's book, It's Not About the Bike. The first time I did this, I was primarily interested in Armstrong's book in connection with cycling. But recently, I have read the book with more interest in what it says about fighting cancer. When I read this passage, I thought of Peter:Good, strong people get cancer, and they do all the right things to beat it, and they still die. That is the essential truth you learn. People die. And after you learn it, all other matters seem irrelevant. They just seem small.
Peter's death has definitely made my daily work seem insignificant. But, he would be the first person to tell me to pull myself together and do something constructive. So, I'll do my best.
We miss you Peter.