Detective John Druding, 1974-2020

Detective John Druding, my coworker and friend, has lost his years-long battle with colon cancer. John passed away on his birthday. He was only 46 years old.

People say this all the time when someone passes away, but in this case it’s true: John was a very good man. After a stint in the army, he joined the SEPTA Transit Police, and eventually moved to the Philadelphia Police Department. He was promoted to detective and after a stint in Southwest Philly, he came to our division. John spent a few years in my squad before moving to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) where he handled shootings.

Suffice to say, he was always busy.

He was also always quirky. John wore the same outfit to work every day. Literally every day. White shirt, tan khakis, red tie. He used to tell us it was easier than picking out clothes to wear every day. When John first got his cancer results, the division held John Druding Day, where everyone wore the Druding Uniform that day. John’s son wore the Druding Uniform at last night’s viewing.

John was also usually the smartest man in the room. John knew the directives, the phone numbers of obscure units, and obscure charges no one would have known were on the books.

John was funny, but it was mostly straight-faced humor. Occasionally when he would answer the phone, you could tell how the conversation was going. When he answered a question then immediately reply, “Sorry, no follow up questions” and hang up, you know the call was not going swimmingly. John became a division legend when he poked fun at a coworker by imitating him in the Muppets’ Swedish Chef voice. We still have the audio, and it’s still hilarious.

When John got sick, he let everyone in the division know, but that was the end of it. He never talked about the colon cancer, rarely talked about his chemotherapy, and certainly never felt sorry for himself. John just kept coming to work, every day, and doing the job. He did, however, joke about his colostomy bag – often to me. On bad days, we occasionally suggested he go home early, and he patently refused. John was determined to continue working, and refused to be cowed by the cancer.

While it’s difficult to accept John’s passing, it’s obviously much more difficult for his family. John’s wife is one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet, and they have a young daughter and son. At the viewing, they were both completely composed and mature beyond their years. John and Michelle raised them right. I cannot fathom how difficult this is for them. Even when you know it’s coming, you are never fully prepared.

John will be interred in Washington Crossing National Cemetery.

2020 has been the worst year of my life. In the span of six months, I lost my mother, my sergeant, and now John. I know they are all in a better place, but I do not understand the rationale of taking John home to God at the age of 46.

Rest in peace, John. We will all miss you terribly.

Dale Hawerchuk, 1963-2020

Dale Hawerchuk, arguably my favorite all-time hockey player after Wayne Gretzky, has lost his battle with cancer. He was only 57 years old.

Dale Hawerchuk, a 2001 Hockey Hall of Famer, has died after a battle with stomach cancer.

“Dale was not only a hall of fame player, great coach, mentor and icon in the sport of hockey, he was also a great friend and an amazing human being,” said Howie Campbell, president of OHL’s Barrie Colts where Hawerchuk coached from 2010-2019. “He was a big part of our community for over 10 years. Our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies go out to the Hawerchuk family.”

Hawerchuk entered the NHL in 1981 as an 18-year old, and was the first pick in the NHL draft. He dominated the league for years, and every time he stepped on the ice, you knew you were seeing someone extraordinary.

Hawerchuk, 57, was diagnosed in August, forcing him to take a leave of absence from the Colts. He told TSN in October he began suffering from acid reflux symptoms in the summer and a CT scan found a stomach tumor. He later underwent a gastrectomy in January to remove his stomach, as well as a tumor and cancerous cells.

Hawerchuk’s cancer returned in June.

Fuck cancer. Seriously. It has taken far too many good people.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 1981 NHL Draft, Hawerchuk played 1,188 games with the Jets, Sabres, Blues, and Flyers and recorded 518 goals and 1,409 points. He reached 100 points six times and scored at least 40 goals in seven seasons. The forward was a five-time All-Star and voted the 1982 Calder Trophy winner.

Thank you, Dale, for being an hero and an idol to a skinny, hockey kid from Philadelphia. I will miss you more than you can ever know. Rest in peace.

Free And Clear… For Another Six Months

After sitting in a waiting room for an hour – the office computers all crashed – I finally received my biopsy results. The biopsy samples were benign. I guess that means there was at least the appearance of a small tumor? I’m a detective, not a doctor.

Since this is another win, I’d like to quote Sterling Archer, “Lana, I’ve never had a death wish, it’s just that I don’t believe that I personally even can die.”

I still have to see the urologist for tests every six months because my Prostate Specific Antigens (PSAs) are still higher than normal, and I’m sure this isn’t my final prostate biopsy, but if they catch cancer early, it’s more treatable.

I don’t get it. I’m sitting at 184 pounds, I go to the gym every other day, and I’m in the best shape in twenty-five years. Why is this happening?

I took a moment to break down in the car after I heard the news. I think it was the culmination of all the recent stress. Thank you all for the prayers and well-wishes.

The Stress Never Ends

So, yesterday was terrible.

Princess P was sick from school, and was vomiting much of the morning. We think she had the same virus Kevin was battling. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I had my urologist appointment early in the morning, and was hoping for good news.

After sitting for what seemed like forever in the office, I was finally called back. The crazy cute Russian nurse took my vitals, and had me give a urine sample. In the urologist’s office, you pee into what looks like a spittoon, and it analyzes the urine and reads the numbers. Afterward, the nurse took a quick ultrasound of my bladder to make sure it was empty. It was…

Continue reading “The Stress Never Ends”

Cancer, Your Time Is Running Out

Scientists have unearthed a protein which has the potential to kill cancer cells. Testing is still in the early stages, but the compound appears to work against leukemia.

As someone who has lost friends to cancer, this is welcome news indeed.

Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine have discovered the first compound that directly makes cancer cells commit suicide while sparing healthy cells. The new treatment approach, described in today’s issue of Cancer Cell, was directed against acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells but may also have potential for attacking other types of cancers.

AML accounts for nearly one-third of all new leukemia cases and kills more than 10,000 Americans each year. The survival rate for patients has remained at about 30 percent for several decades, so better treatments are urgently needed.

The newly discovered compound combats cancer by triggering apoptosis — an important process that rids the body of unwanted or malfunctioning cells. Apoptosis trims excess tissue during embryonic development, and some chemotherapy drugs indirectly induce apoptosis by damaging DNA in cancer cells.

In my opinion, there is no more despicable disease than cancer, so its eradication would make the world a better place. Remember this story the next time some leftist screams about “Big Pharma.”

Point Break

grandpa-simpson-taken-to-the-nut-house

This may sound like a whining post – well, it IS a whining post – but to be fair, I am going to whine about all my crap at once, then never try to mention it again. So either bear with me, or wait a bit until the next post. Your choice.

First off, I have been very sick for almost a week now. I am recovering from a bout of the shingles, and I have the actual flu. Not flu symptoms, or a cold, the ass-kicking flu. The only good health news I’ve received this week was my yearly skin cancer screening was negative.

Work has been a nightmare these past few weeks. It’s not due to the crime or the criminals, but due in part by my coworkers. It seems everyone has decided to adopt Homer Simpson’s “Can’t Someone Else Do It?” mantra. Many of the detectives in my squad show at least a half hour late every day – if they show up at all – and when they do, they spend more time bitching about jobs, complainants, or supervisors than they do solving crimes.

Now I’m not the model employee by any stretch of the imagination, but I am always at work on time – usually early – work my ass of while I’m there, and rarely use sick or vacation time. (The last two days notwithstanding, since I am actually very sick.) I’m tired of the whining, tired of the lackadaisical attitudes, and tired of being the only responsible person in the building.

But wait, there’s more…

Continue reading “Point Break”

Alan Rickman, 1946-2016

Alan Rickman As Hans Gruber In Die HardAlan Rickman, brilliant actor of stage and screen, died today after a long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old.

Actor Alan Rickman, known for films including Harry Potter, Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, has died at the age of 69, his family has said. The star had been suffering from cancer.

He became one of Britain’s best-loved acting stars thanks to roles including Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films and Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling led the tributes, describing him as “a magnificent actor and a wonderful man”.

Rickman had more acclaimed performances, and larger box offices hits, but I will always remember him as Hans Gruber, the deliciously evil villain from Die Hard. In a film full of great actors and solid performances, Rickman bested them all.

First David Bowie – who also died from cancer and was also 69 years old – and now Alan Rickman. This has been one awful week.

Rest in peace, Mr. Rickman. Thank you for the endless entertainment.

Six Years Gone

Clay Marc BondClay Marc Bond, professor (Indiana University and Penn State University), blogger (Right Wing Prof), Steelers fan, and my good friend, passed away on this date in 2010. He was only 53 years old.

Longtime readers may remember Right Wing Prof. He commented here often, and he traveled to Philly in 2007 for a meet and greet at Geno’s Steaks. Clay was one of the most kind, generous people you could ever meet. When I was diagnosed with skin cancer, he was more concerned with my meaningless little surgery than his Stage 4 lung cancer. The cancer which ultimately defeated him.

A month before he passed, I drove to Altoona to see him in the hospice home. When I walked in, he pointed to the whiteboard. It had a few dates, times, and names, but right at the bottom, “WYATT” was scrawled across the board in capital letters. He asked me why I traveled all that way to see him, and he was serious. He didn’t think he was worth the trouble. Had I known it would be the last time I would ever see him I probably would have stayed for a few days.

I miss Clay a lot. He was one of the first close friends I ever lost, and the first of a few who I lost to cancer.

God bless you, Clay. I hope they get Penguins games in Heaven. Memory eternal!