Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Death of a Fisherman – A Love Story (Something Special is Happening During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for YOU! Part 4)

The Death of a Fisherman – A Love Story
(Something Special is Happening During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, for YOU! Part 4)

Unfortunately, bereavement is often a part of Breast Cancer Awareness. But this is a story about how love conquers all, including death.
Introduction: David Dibble is my guest blogger for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. My blogs are on his site accessible by his website. He is the creator of DreamWork, host of the DreamWork Global Summit and lead teacher/host of DreamWork Day and the DreamWork Coach Certification Program. David believes most times cancer or any disease is a message that a person has been unwilling in some way to hear or act upon. If one can get the message, in most cases, the disease is no longer necessary. David also believes the message that needs to be heard and acted upon is encoded in every dream.

The Death of a Fisherman – A Love Story
Although not a really big man, my dad had been a star high school football player and we had lots of clippings his mother saved to prove the point. After high school, he became a tuna fisherman. In those days, even the largest fish were hauled from the ocean stout line tethered to bamboo poles. It wasn’t a job for the weak or faint of heart. My dad was neither. He could do five one-arm pull-ups with either hand and was afraid on no one other than my mother. Then again, this was sensible because no sane person would cross my mother.

When the big nets came to tuna fishing, bamboo poles and the fisherman who held them were relegated to the scrap heap. I can only guess how much my dad missed his time at sea, but miss it he surely did. He went to work on the night shift in an aerospace factory and years later, when his services were no longer needed, he was downsized in more ways than one. Unable to find work, he went to welding school and soon found himself surrounded by sparking steel and clouds of smoke. Still, he was working and that was the important thing.

It was a crisp winter day in 1984 when I got the call from Dad. He informed me that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer and was scheduled for immediate surgery to remove the diseased lung. After surgery, he would have aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatments. I asked if I could visit and he said he preferred that I wait until after the treatments—that he did not expect to be good company. The wait turned out to be ten months.

The treatments bordered on intolerable. Dad liked his doctors and knew they were doing their best to arrest the cancer. Still, he also told me after his last chemo treatment that it would be his last, even if it meant dying. “Better dead than to be that sick, son,” he lamented.

In the fall of 1985, after his checkup with his oncologist, Dad called to tell me that he was going home from the hospital. The checkup had not gone well. The cancer had spread and there was nothing more the doctors could do. He was told to go home and “enjoy the last three or four months of your life.”

I was angry. I thought, After all he had endured—that’s it? Go home and enjoy the last three or four months of your life? It just wasn’t fair. There had to be something we could do. I put my anger to work.

Call to Action

I determined to read everything I could lay my hands on that offered alternative methods of treating cancer. I read about diet, exercise, laughter, meditation, contemplation, visualizations, and more. I sifted through tales of miracle machines, energy healings, rain forest plants and herbs, and clinics that were healing cancer in foreign countries after having been driven out of the US by the FDA. What was true and what was hoax?

Still, some of this resonated within me. I determined that Dad did not have to die if he was willing to change his life, really change his life. When I had gathered all the information possible in this mad dash against time, I called Dad and asked if I could visit him and talk about what I had learned about alternative methods of treating cancer. He was both curious and happy that I was coming to visit him.

When I arrived at his front door, Dad greeted me like never before. Although his once rock-hard body was now weak and frail, he hugged me strongly and for a long time. Was this really my father who never touched or opened up? It was. Yet, something in him had changed.

I told Dad that I did not think he had to die, if he chose to live. However, the only way he was going to get better was if he was willing to change—big time. I shared all of the information I had collected and asked if he was willing to commit to any of the methodologies. He seemed hopeful and I saw even little flashes of enthusiasm. After some careful thought, he chose to try changes in diet, a strict (if limited) exercise program, visualization, and possibly meditation. He would also quit smoking, which had been an on-again, off-again proposition, even after the discovery of his cancer. As additional support, I committed to go on the macrobiotic diet with him.

As a part of his healing, we agreed that as soon as he was strong enough (well enough), we would fulfill one of his lifelong dreams. We would travel together to Costa Rica, the one place that he had always dreamed of seeing before his death. The third member of our traveling team would be Jim, one of my best friends and one of Dad’s favorite people.

Then, I handed my father a present that I saved in case we reached this magic moment. He opened the gift the way a young boy opens Santa’s best present under the Christmas tree. Inside the heavy box were books, brochures, and travel information on Costa Rica. I told him that since he had been the navigator in the war and on the tuna boats, he would be our navigator, too. He should start planning our itinerary.

Miracles as Usual

From the first day of my visit, Dad began to improve. He changed his life. He was consistent in his wellness practices. He called often to tell me about his little victories or ideas for our Costa Rican journey. Sometimes his energy was so vibrant that I began to question my own aliveness. Six months into his wellness practice, he said something that both chilled and delighted me.
“David, the cancer is gone.”  “How do you know that?” I asked with care, so as not to dampen the moment. “David, I just know.” And he did.

Back at the hospital the doctors were dumbfounded. Dad was supposed to be dead, very dead. Instead, he was not only alive, but also well. He was cancer-free. He became a medical marvel for which the doctors had no explanation. Their enthusiastic advice now became, “We don’t know what you’re doing, but whatever it is, keep doing it!”

Ten Days in Costa Rica

In November 1986, Jim, Dad and I rented a small van at the airport in San Jose, the capitol of Costa Rica. Luckily, the old fisherman hadn’t lost his navigational touch, so we had full confidence in his ability to guide us to the best sights. Besides, based upon all the books and notes he brought with him, we were sure he had studied everything ever written about Costa Rica.

Our only caveat was that we would be always in the moment and allow the trip to unfold. We would be like the wind, free to follow the path of least resistance, free to change in an instant, free to be inspired and joyful during each moment of this most magical journey.

The ten days we spent together in Costa Rica were, without a doubt, the most satisfying and gratifying of my life with Dad. He was open, funny, emotional, and gracious. He was alive with gratitude for every sight and sound—and for the company, too. I saw the little kid in him, the parts of every father that are usually hidden from their sons in the name of parenting. Even today, I can still hear the laughter over beer and tacos. Jim, Dad, and I jostled to “one-up” the other with the most outrageous story, swearing absolute truth all the while. I also heard stories of life that I had never heard before, stories of Dad’s life. After Costa Rica, we became even closer—good friends.

The Continuing Saga of Life

Shortly after Costa Rica, Dad lost his job at the shipyard where he was a welder. The company had to restructure in order to become more competitive and the older workers were the first to go. No age discrimination, of course—just coincidence. The law required that he have a chest X-ray before being laid off. He was given a clean bill of health and told to stay in touch, that more work, like prosperity, was just around the corner. Dad checked every day, but the work never came. Unfortunately, the work must have taken a wrong turn and headed out of the country where wages were lower and profits higher.

Dad looked everywhere for work. First he looked for another welding position. Later, he applied for anything. Anything! But, as Dad pointed out, “Seems like they don’t want us old fellas. No luck today, but tomorrow’s a new day.” Brave words, but no job.

Dad had always been a hard worker. He took pride in his work. He needed to work. However as endless rejections bowed his once strong shoulders, his energy and will sagged. After a while, I think he just gave up.

Three months after the layoff, he stopped exercising and began smoking again. The diet went by the wayside, too. He mentioned that he wasn’t feeling himself and was planning to see the doctor. Four months after the layoff, the cancer was everywhere.

Dad said, “The bugger is back and I’m too tired to fight it this time.”

The Last Father’s Day

Dad and my sister Judy had their differences. They hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in more than five years. I invited Judy to come with me to Texas to visit him on Father’s Day, reminding her that the cancer was spreading fast and that he probably didn’t have much time left. I’d even pay for the trip. Although it was a difficult decision for her, Judy bravely chose to come with me.

I called Dad a week before Father’s Day. As usual, even though he was weak, he perked up when I called. I told him I had a surprise for him. He said that I shouldn’t send him anything--that he had everything he needed.

I told him I wasn’t sending anything, but I would deliver my gift to him in person. The phone went silent and I knew that he was wiping away a tear or two. After a minute, he came back to the phone and started to tell me how much my coming meant to him. Then I relayed my other news.

“Dad, I have another part to this surprise. Judy is coming with me.” I heard the phone fumbled and then hit the floor as Dad sobbed quietly.

I will never forget the sparkle of pure joy that shone in his blue eyes as we met him at the entrance to the Veteran’s Hospital. He moved with a combination of a shuffle and a hop, rather like he was dancing or doing a little jig. Waving all the while, his dance carried that stooped old body to meet his kids. He grabbed and hugged Judy in a way that I had never seen before, tears streaming down his pale, wrinkled, weathered face. He kept repeating the words, “You’re so beautiful. You’re so beautiful.”

He spent the better part of the day shuffling us to meet the nurses, doctors and all the friends he’d made at the hospital. His bragging about us should have been embarrassing. It wasn’t. It brought tears over and over to those who had come to know my father in his final days.

Moreover, it brought tears to Judy and me. After all, it was Father’s Day, Dad’s day, the fisherman’s day. Dad wasn’t a real religious man, but he told me later that it was an inspiration and a gift from God that we had come to be with him on his last Father’s Day.

Dad went downhill fast after Father’s Day. The last thing he told me was that the time he spent with Judy and me on his last Father’s Day was the happiest day of his life. It was a bit of a miracle that a person could be in such ecstasy in a tired, worn-out, diseased old body like the one that carried around my dad.

A Connection to Wellness and Healing

The purpose of this story is to illustrate the power of the body-mind-soul-spirit connection and its correlation to disease, wellness, and healing. Dad, in some sort of body-mind-soul-spirit dynamic, created his cancer, then healed himself completely, and then recreated his cancer again. We all have this creative ability. We all have the divine guidance we need to do the right things in any life situation. It’s in our dreams.

Sweet Dreams to One and All!
By David Dibble who can be reached at or

As a guest blogger, I give Kathleen (Kat) O’Keefe-Kanavos permission to use and post the following blogs. David Dibble 10/2/2013

Guest BIO:
David Dibble, former CEO of a successful technology company, is an author,  keynote speaker, trainer, consultant, executive coach, systems thinker, and a practical spiritual teacher. He is the creator of DreamWork, DreamWorkDNA, & The Four Agreements at Work, based upon his eight years of work directly with don Miguel Ruiz, author of the best-selling book The Four Agreements. He is the host of the first ever DreamWork Global Summit and the creator and host of DreamWork Day, a global celebration of dreams, dreaming and dreamworkers. David is the master instructor of the DreamWork Coach Certification Program and winner of the prestigious T Award for innovation in coaching. He can be reached at or

BIO: Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos, Intuitive Life Coach, survived three breast cancers, wrote SURVIVING CANCERLAND: Intuitive Aspects of Healing (Cypress House, Jan 2014)  websites:  & Access Your Inner Guide, Hosts Living Well Talk Radio, Cancer Q&A columnist CapeWomenOnlineMagazine, Breast CancerYoga, Dream Queen columnist- Wellness Woman 40 & Beyond, Your Dream Intrepretation , WakeUpWomen; R.A. BLOCH Cancer Foundation Hotline Counselor. Represented by Steve Allen Media