My Cancer Story

The End Game….

Posted 23 June 2016

Irene here to finish the story:  Michael’s last post was June 9th, when he went on hospice, choosing to be sent home from the hospital, rather than endure more intervention that had scant chance of helping.  It was a difficult decision to make, but Michael had always been adamant about his desire to end his days at home, not a hospital.

He did get his 2 units of blood on Friday 6/10, and that did seem to make him somewhat stronger, but when they tested his hemoglobin after the transfusion, it had brought it up to 7.5, which is still very low.  It was clear that he needed more.

Sunday 6/12 Michael’s dear friend Mark, whom he has known since 7th grade, came to visit with his wife Pattie.  We had a wonderful time with them.  Because Michael has been so candid in his posts, I will share this: Saturday and Sunday brought another development that was pretty disturbing to see, Michael’s amazing brain was now really compromised.  He tried to complete some work for Webvanta that normally would have taken him an hour or two to accomplish.  I watched him struggle for hours and finally was able to talk him into allowing someone else to complete the task.  It was very, very hard for him to admit defeat, and very hard for me to insist.

Hospice agreed to pay for another blood transfusion and they scheduled it for Wednesday 6/15. Monday and Tuesday he was very weak, and sleeping a lot, but still able to talk and think, with a little help to keep his thoughts on track. We were so hopeful that more blood would bring his energy level back up. During this period of time Michael was still counting on having a big Garden Party to which many people from his Microprocessor Report days were invited, as well as local friends and family. His family and I were becoming more and more certain that he wouldn’t be well enough for such a thing.  On Thursday, it became apparent that the transfusion had not helped. His body was beginning to shut down.

We decided to cancel the big party, and just invite friends and family to come. By Thursday afternoon Michael was sleeping most of the time, with brief moments of wakefulness and clarity of thought. Friday was much the same, and by Saturday it was clear that he had few days left.  The gathering on 6/18 was lovely. Many close friends and family came by and took turns being with Michael to say goodbye and tell him of their love and appreciation of him.  We’re hopeful that he was able to hear and take in the words and love he was given. It was a great opportunity for people who were close to Michael to connect with each other, again, or for the first time.  I was able to just dip in and out of the party, taking breaks to cry or sit quietly, while others kept food and drink flowing.

In the early hours of Sunday, 6/19/16, Father’s Day, Michael passed away in his sleep. A great mind and generous heart has passed from this world.  Though his last week saw a precipitous slide in his condition, I am aware that it could have been so much worse for him.  Michael faced this cancer journey with such grace and courage, but his biggest fear was what he called “the End Game”.  He was worried that he would be in great pain and would linger long in that state. Thankfully, his pain was easily controlled by his meds, and his last days were mostly peaceful.

RIP, my love,  Irene


Stuart Forrest

I am really sorry to read this post. I have been following the story from here in the UK. I am in a similar business to Michael and so feel some affinity even though I never knew him. I know nothing will ease this time but the thoughts of people around the world who have read this are with you I am sure.

Mark Indictor

Dearest Irene,

Your strength and courage through this unimaginably difficult time is no less than extraordinary. The power of love in the face of loss is a miracle of life itself. Michael’s time came far too soon. I send you prayers of healing as you continue on. Words fail me. Simply know that you are loved and supported through this time of renewal and transition. It is time to take care of yourself. To grieve. To come to terms with a new landscape that we couldn’t have foreseen.

I hold you lovingly in my thoughts, and send you energy and encouragement in support of your continued journey.

Rest in peace, Michael. The world is enriched by your presence, and emptier for your departure.


AnnMarie Ginella

Sending you so much love Irene. You and Michael will always be a beautiful couple in my eyes, forever linked by your love, your children, your undying devotion. Big, loving hugs to you and Mandy. He was a gentle, intelligent, caring, insightful, soft spoken leader. He will be missed, but surely remembered. oxox

Suzie Heumann

Thank you Irene for making this final post about Michael. I appreciate knowing about his last days. I’m glad it was easy, relatively speaking. He was a good man. I hope that life for you won’t be too difficult in the coming months. Big blessings to your family and to you.

Marilyn Frandsen

Thank you for this post, Irene. Although I think perhaps we only met once briefly, Loralee and Patsy are my longtime friends (since we were 5 years old). I’ve been following Michael’s blog and so grateful to you to be able to to hear the end game was not that difficult and pain was controlled. I grieve with you. Best, Marilyn Frandsen

Frank Liu

Thank you, Michael, for writing this blog and sharing your journey with everyone! RIP!

Jon Kern

I only “knew” Michael as a wonderfully helpful owner during the early days (2009/10?) of WebVanta, helping with some technical issue with much grace and patience.

Reading his story and crying my eyes out with your entry Irene, I hope to meet Michael in the next life.

Thank you for sharing, and I am truly sorry for your loss, and the loss of the world of such a kind and productive soul.

Haroon Dilshad

Hi Irene, I wish you patience and courage. Mark faced the inevitable gracefully and set an example. I’ve been following this blog from Pakistan and I just want to let you know that I’m with you in this moment of grief for whatever that’s worth. May the great man rest in peace

Kent Jenkins

By reading the comments here and elsewhere, by listening to conversations local and distant, by speaking to those who knew him and those who did not, I know that Michael succeeded in creating a legacy and a learning for his family, friends, and far beyond.

Brian Case

Hi Irene. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for the dinner and extended visit I had with you and Michael at STEM on 17-May. I really didn’t believe his passing could be mere weeks in the future: he seemed to be so much his old self. I will always treasure: the years we worked together on the newsletter and conferences; the things I learned from Michael; and the relationships he nurtured by bringing us all together to create something of real and lasting value. I watched his lecture to the high-school AP class with a smile on my face: there was the Michael I knew, making difficult, cloudy subjects simple and easy to understand. May he rest in peace.

David Marsden

So very sorry to hear this news. Thank you, Irene, for sharing. Michael was a bright, warm, generous soul who was a pleasure know. He will be missed.

Gabe Youtsey

I met Michael for the first time just under a year ago when the University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources hired Webvanta to build a site for us. Michael came out and I (and I think others) were struck by his quiet genius. He really won us over with his wealth of experience and ability to paint a vision for us describing what we needed in a new site. We all came away deeply impressed with him and the company and hired Webvanta. Sadly, I believe this project was one of his last. I could tell it was a labor of love for him, and we are so deeply sad and sorry at his passing. Thank you for sharing this blog post Irene and accept our deepest sympathies. Know he was still making big impacts professionally all the way until the end!

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