Worst News Possible

Pretty catchy title eh? I suspect it grabbed your attention but I had to pick it. On Monday, August 10th, I met with Dr. Wojciech Morzychi, a senior Chemotherapy Oncologist and now the lead on my case. I expected to hear positive news about my cancer but early in the conversation he said “I have the worst possible news.”

I had a PET scan on July 20th. Cells from my original tumour have metastasized in my liver and there is no cure. There are a couple of chemotherapy options which may extend my life if effective, but they will only stop replication of cancer cells and not offer a cure. I return on September 1st to make a decision on how to proceed. I will share more after that appointment as to my decision.

News of this nature is unsettling for me, my family and you my friends. I have no intention of allowing cancer to define how I live the rest of my life. I will count of you to continue as support pillars with uplifting vibes. Clearly this sucks, but the best way you can help is to join me with Dignity facing the time ahead, Courage to cope with the next treatment and obvious eventual outcome of death, Humour as we reminisce about past and present times, Grace to share love freely and without reservation, and Faith in God when my time here comes to a close.

By the way, right now I feel healthy, stronger each day and am eating everything I can although in child-sized portions. I can do an occasional beer and plan to try a sip of wine in the near future.

Both Janet and I eagerly await the arrival of our first grandchild. Our daughter-in-law Becca and son Chris are about a week past heir due date so there is an exciting moment coming any time. We know they are having a boy. I find it conforming to know the O’Hara name continues.

We made the move from our home of almost 33 years in Dartmouth to a wonderful apartment in Halifax at the beginning of August. Janet’s 94 year-old mother lives in this building which makes our new location more attractive.

We hoped to get more for the house but it needed a lot of work. So we can’t retire as much debt as we planned but we’ll be financially okay going forward. And when the eventuality of death arrives, Janet’s financial future is secure with life insurance and a portion of my Pensions.

My 67th birthday is coming up on Sunday, October 25th and there will be a celebration and a party to which you’ll be invited once plans are in place.

I used some of the proceeds from the house sale to purchase a 34’ sailboat and I plan to get on the water as much as a I can between now and the end of the season. I’m always looking for people to go for a sail so consider yourself invited to come along for an adventure.

All of our five children live here right now. It gives me joy every time we collect for a meal. We have ordered a table from the Amish Furniture Store which should arrive before the Canadian Thanksgiving in October. It will seat 10-12 people. With children, spouses, and a girlfriend, our head count stands at ten. I envision many meals with the good China and “smashed potatoes in the feasty room” (Note: that was how our son Drew described meals in our dinning room years ago).

My point is I plan to go forward with a cup-half-full perspective and invite you join me in that effort.

As always, thank for for being at my side throughout this challenge and going forward.

Peace, Love and Laughter

Phil ❤️

57 Replies to “Worst News Possible”

  1. Dear Phil

    Greetings from Denmark. Still full of respect for your accomplishment on your bike 2 years ago. I am reading along here on the sideline, but this post really made me sad. I am so, so sorry to hear that. Several bad news occurs in the moment about peoples health, and I take it all in, and feel for your all remindering me to fully embrace my life and my family. I send a lot of thoughts and positive energy your way. I admire you from the buttom of my heart, Phil.

    Virtual hugs from Denmark, Zazia from Fys. & Fitness

    1. It is so nice to hear from you. As a parent of five, I love your FB posts with you children. There is no better way to spend time than mentoring children, especially your own.

  2. Please do a Zoom for at least part of the party so those of us around the world can see you to say “hello” and extend our prayers.


  3. Phil, I am so sad to hear this news but I continue to be heartened by your courage. I know you will make the most of everyday with your loving wife and family beside you. I look forward to hearing more of your sailing adventures and of course, the birth of your new grandson.

  4. Such sad and discouraging news Phil but know you will run with it and make the best of it.We are facing these same realities here and with good friends.Life is not smooth sailing so you have to have a sturdy ship-you have both kinds- your new boat and the vessel that is you.Enjoy that!Holding you in prayer
    Jan and Bruce Wilson

  5. This is beyond all I expected, never thought a moment this could be an outcome. This is not something a positive man like you deserves. I counted on seeing you next year in the Netherlands again. Feeling sad now and difficult to find words. I can only hope that you and your family find the strength to go on and enjoy life for the time remaining.

    1. I spoke with Michael about joining him at the finish line next week. It is doable although expensive but the money is not the biggest question. On return to Canada I’d have to self isolate for 14 days. That is a lot of time to lose the chance to be with friends and family.

      Regardless I will be following the race with great interest. I’m enjoying the pictures people are posting already. It is all so familiar.

      Cheers, Phil

  6. Phil, hoping we can link up in person if the Maritime bubble ever lifts. Until then we’ll continue to cheer you on from afar. You continue to inspire us all with your spirit and set the bar for living life to the fullest.

    Andrew and Family

    1. Thanks Andrew. It is so nice to hear from you and I’d love to see you as soon as able. As always, your Dad has Ben a rock when I mentioned the news.

  7. What a lot to absorb, Phil! I can’t imagine how you and Janet are holding up, but some time on that sailboat and smashed potatoes in the feasty room are no doubt in order. I wish Peter and I could take you up on your generous offer to take us for a sail, but until that is possible, keep the faith. May the Lord bless and keep you both, and all of your wonderful family!

    1. By the way, I was baptized on Easter Sunday and my faith will serve me well going forward. During the period before churches reopened, I got communion in the hospital frequently. I will share more when I know more but right now I feel healthy and strong.

      1. You might have. been one of the few in North America that actually made it into the church at Easter, Phil. We’ve only started bringing ours in now, because of Covid. And those liturgies are socially distanced and masked, etc. And if you don’t have one, consider getting a spiritual director, even via FaceTime. Having just come into the church as you have, it would be great for you to have that regular support.

        1. Actually all the churches were closed here too. My son Chris’ employment with the Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese along with his wife Becca’s employment at Saint Thomas More combined with my cancer treatment with a serious surgery coming up, allowed for an approved exception. In attendance was Janet and I, Becca and Chris, my sponsor Larry Worthen, and the priest.

          It was a lovely service and Baptism.

          To the best of my knowledge, the other 50 people preparing for Baptism are still waiting.

          Cheers, Phil

  8. I have been waiting for your blog as my husband was diagnosed around the same time as you with gastro esophageal adenocarcinoma. We had heard we would be having a consult with a surgeon and googled her…and found you. You sounds like you have a most amazing family and love life, as we do. He/we determined no surgery and we are exactly half was through chemo and radiation, his PET scan showed enough to quantify metastasis, we move forward with hope, faith and quality of time together. Thank you for sharing your walk or sail may be more appropriate. You, like us are in the midst of change. Wishing you and your family all the best!

    1. When I started this blog, it was a way of coping and in particular I hoped to provide comfort for others in my shoes, especially those without the support of family and friends I enjoy. I’m glad you’ve found my ramblings to be helpful and allow me to wish you and your husband all the very best. Please stay in touch. I’m curious where you live and if you’re potentially in my bubble. What we share is a good excuse for smashed potatoes in the feasty room eh? You can text me with that 902-497-6056 or email at w.philip.ohara@gmail.com

  9. I just read your story further. We were only diagnosed June 11 so not the same timing…we went through COVID without access to care and it has been a marathon. Beautiful family you have, you have all been through so much, enjoy life!!!

    1. I count my blessings everyday to have the support of a large family and huge collection of friends. This would be an unbearable experience if I was alone.

  10. Hi Phil, very sad news for you, Janet and the family. You have been amazing through the journey. Your resolve, strength and positive outlook gives all of us strength on how to face difficult times.

    We hope to be in Halifax in Fall/Winter and will connect then.

    Take Care


  11. Wow! Not the news I expected to hear today. I hoped that we would be hearing good news after all the positivity you exhibited and distributed during your healthcare adventures, not to mention your weight loss adventure, your bike adventures, your sailing adventures and much more.
    Like with Brad, you have part of my life since I was 14 at Pine Crest – your leadership and compassion has been a beacon for me to live up to ever since.
    God bless you and your family as you face this latest challenge.

  12. “Anxious” may be a poor chouce of words Phil, but I have never been a wordsmith… I am anxious to follow your path with an end date that is more “known.”

    The majority of the world piss away time, I suspect because their end date is unknown.

    “Buy the boat” is a cliche but imagine how fitting your Spring decisio actually is….

  13. Phil, you have such a way of moving through life with grace. I’m so sad for you and your family to hear of this news. It is wonderful you are all close geographically at the moment and have much to look forward to in the future. I hope for some positive outcome to your next appointment, something small that offers you choice in how you manage your next step. You seem to be in such a positive mental state at the moment, and surrounded by love… Which is the best possible place for you. Best wishes from Down Under, Phil. 💞 Karen xo

    1. I have valued your wisdom from when we first met. You know how to perfectly express a comforting message. I have plenty of living left in me while I’m healthy and strong. Janet and I sat on the boat last night sipping wine and reflecting on how fortunate I’ve been to have a such a full, engaging and satisfying run through my life to this point. I’m not done yet.

  14. Phil my friend, I echo Anita’s words and would like to add that you have a great strength and attitude. I vividly remember our little get togethers with the Sci-Fi boys in my pool. You always look at the cup being half full and that is what I admire about you. Keep us informed old son and enjoy that beautiful boat.

  15. Such heart wrenching news Phil. George and I are forevermore with you on this journey however it is most helpful to you. The Zoom aspect of the party is a great idea. We would certainly try to be available to log on.
    Love and God’s blessing
    George and Glenda ❤️❤️

    1. The outpouring of support is overwhelming. It is so gratifying to have such good friends in my corner.

      Cheers, Phil ❤️

  16. Hello from down under my friend. I was very saddened to see this news, but I am extremely impressed with the strength and fortitude that you are able to bring to bear in the face of bad news. I am sure I would not be able to muster half your positivity. I knew when I met you in Denmark you were a special person, and the grace with which you have faced your battles over the past months has only reinforced that impression of your character. In the meantime, I wish you and your family many happy times yet to come, and get out and enjoy that boat!

    Ride on.

    1. I’ve got a lot of living left in me yet. Here’s hoping our paths cross again before my time is up.

      I count myself fortunate to be part of the cycling community. In my experience, every cyclist I’ve met is remarkable. I suspect the mental and physical discipline it takes combined with a shared belief in environmental and sustainability challenges is at the core of most cyclists character. This is a collection of people with their ethical compasses pointing in the right direction. 🙌🙌

      Cheers, Phil ❤️

  17. Phil,
    Well that puts life in perspective !
    I am sad to hear this news ! Hope is everlasting and I truly believe your faith and family and army of friends will give you joy, compassion, love, a helping hand up, an open ear and open heart to hear your thoughts!
    You’re Mohammad Ali you’ve taken all the body shots that life has to give but they haven’t knocked you to the canvas!

    Speaking of which, Let’s get out and unfurl that canvas sail on your new boat and enjoy the last rays of summer on the water!

    Xoxo to you both…

    1. I’m glad we’ve become good friends. My schedule is more flexible than yours so I’ll wrap around your availability for an adventure on the water. Of course Lindsay and Jack are welcome and perhaps Jack would like to bring a friend.

      Cheers, Phil ❤️

  18. Phil, you have been such a shining example throughout the time since we reacquainted a few years back. And now you continue to do so — living life to the fullest. Your example is making the world a better place — what more can we hope for? Know that my heart is with you.

    1. Thanks David. For the record, following your cycling motivated me to go further distances and build my confidence to take the risk of registering for the race in Denmark. That counts as a life turning point with many positive outcomes. It is tough to know if I’ll get back to that kind of physical effort but I feel healthy and strong now so it’s time to get back in the saddle. It’s only a short ride from our new address to the boat so I see that in the cards soon.

      Once the provincial borders open up, we plan a trip to Toronto. It would be great to connect for a meal out somewhere.

      Cheers, Phil

  19. Phil,

    That is indeed a catchy headline, but I’m not surprised, as you have never been one to hide from the stark reality, nor to find the good in everyone and everything. I love your attitude and jeux de vivre, and I hope that you indeed live life to the fullest in the time you have left. I will forever remember our beer run, and the great weekend we spent together two Octobers ago. Who knew what was on the horizon at that point?

    I would love to be able to come back up to Hali and be part of your Birthday celebration, but I don’t know if they will open the border to Americans by then. If so, I will plan to be there. Between now and then, I hope you can sail and ride, and dance and sing (well, maybe that’s too much) to celebrate your grandchild and your loving family and friends.



    1. Here’s crossing my fingers the boarders open up. I hope the Beer run goes this fall and I can participate. I feel good and string right now so plan to be as active as I can.

      Both Brad and hope the border opens so we can travel to Boston soon. The dilemma is self-isolation for 14 days on both ends. Perhaps testing will eliminate that. Turn around on testing here is typically less than 24 hours so that good news.

      Thanks for the positive vibes.


  20. Hey friend. I don’t know what to say. I’ve loved your enthusiasm and spirt from the day we met. Of course i was too nervous about the race and thinking of the mountain of miles we had in front of us to realize we would be friends from that day forward.

    I applaud the way you are looking at life and i hope you are spending the time with the family and friends. I wish we could ride one more day together. I wish i could take your pain away. I am sorry we didn’t get to spend more time talking about life.

    Thank you for always offering solid advice and being that person so many people looked up to.

    I hope to see you again. I wish you well and I hope you enjoy the new boat as much as you can. I love sailing ⛵️

    Phil- from the bottom of my heart thank you for always having kind words and just being you.

    Matthew 🇩🇰 18’

    1. Hey Matt

      We’re not done yet. Right now I feel healthy and strong.

      I’ve valued calling you a friend from when we first met and the occasional dialogue we’ve had since then. For the time being, how about we schedule a FaceTime call so we can keep it going.

      Eventually the borders will open up and I plan to travel (by car) and visit as many friends as I can while I can. I will have you on the dance card.

      There are six weeks left before the boat comes out for the season. And I plan to do something to celebrate my 67th birthday on October 25th. After that my slate is clear so Janet and I will be on the move.

      The Race Around the Netherlands is on right now. I almost jumped on a plane to help out with the finish but that would leave me self-isolating for two weeks once I got back to Canada. It would be painful to lose that much time with my family especially since I’ll be a grandfather for the first time any day.

      As I say, we’re not done yet and I truly think we are kindred spirits so let’s set up a time to catch up by phone or use FaceTime.

      You are one of the good guys. I’m glad you’re in my life.

      Cheers My Friend, Phil💪🚴🏻‍♂️

  21. Phil, Ted and I were sad and surprised to read your latest entry-not at all what we were expecting. Your positive outlook and courage are amazing. We know you will enjoy every moment and live it to the fullest. Glad to hear that you and Janet are settled into your “new home”; and that soon you will be holding your new Grandson.
    Love and prayers,
    Rita and Ted

    1. Today I got a lovely message from a new friend who follows my blog. It included the following line, “We are all living but we are all dying too – and it’s painful to know you’re further along on that timeline than you’d hoped. I think you are so wise to focus on what it means to be living.“

      We don’t have a moment to lose. We should get a sail and supper on our calendars right away. If the wind doesn’t cooperate, we can motor around the harbour and then have supper on the boat or at a restaurant downtown.

      Our schedule is pretty open so text me at (902) 497-6056 with what works good for you guys.

      Thanks for the love and prayers … right back at you.

      Peace, Love and Laughter
      Phil 💪❤️

  22. Dear Phil, you will need google translate… je suis tellement triste d’apprendre cette nouvelle. Dévastée. Alex m’a informé aujourd’hui de ton état de santé…Nous sommes tous en état de choc, il n’y pas de nouvelles plus mauvaises que ceci. C’est ce que nous redoutions.
    Je tiens à te dire que mes pensées les plus douces sont pour toi et ta famille. Mes prières aussi…Tu es une personne positive et tu as bien raison, le cancer ne peut pas te définir, ni définir ta vie. Je suis heureuse que tu sois entouré d’autant d’amour, de ta famille et de tes amis. Car c’est ce qui compte le plus sur cette terre, aimé et être aimé! Tu es aimé par tellement de personnes, à cause de ton grand coeur! Merci pour tout ce que tu as fait pour Alex, d’en avoir pris soin comme un membre de ta famille, de lui avoir donné un toit pour lui et ses nombreux poissons, d’avoir accepté son serpent et plus encore. Janet et toi avez une grande place dans mon coeur. Je n’oublierai jamais votre générosité et votre gentillesse. Prends soin de toi et profite bien de ce beau voilier pour voguer sur la mer apaisante. Amicalement, Marie-Josée Xxx

    1. Google translate worked like a charm. Thank you for the heartfelt words. It means a lot to me. Getting to know Alexis is one of my life joys. I plan to put up the best fight I can to extend my life. It helps to have such caring friends and loving family at my side God holding my hand.

      Peace, Love and Laughter
      Phil ❤️

      My son Chris proposes we travel to Quebec later this fall for Mass at the churches in Quebec and Montreal know for healing. I will let you know when that’s arranged with the hope We can arrange a date and time to have a meal together.

  23. Hello Phil.
    I am so sad for you on receiving your recent news. I was becoming optimistic that you were going to have a good outcome. So sorry to learn that it will be otherwise. I admire your stoic attitude and acceptance of your diagnosis. I am not sure that I could be so brave. Please make the best of what time you have left to enjoy your family and friends. I so much appreciated the work and contribution you made to BCAC. A difficult act to follow. We are all thinking of you. We were hoping that you would be able to get up to Big Cove this fall for a visit. That may now be impossible but hopefully we will be able to touch base with each other soon.
    With warm regards,
    David Christie.

    1. David

      Thank you for the kind words. I will have a better idea after my Tuesday appointment what I can expect in the future. Right now I feel healthy and strong and ready to rock so I think I’ll be able to join the team at camp this fall.

      Here’s hoping 🙏

      Peace, Love and Laughter

  24. Hi Phil

    I’m sorry to hear about your latest challenge healthwise. I respect your bravery and choice to see the glass as half-full. You have the support of your family and friends and your great attitude will go a long way.

    It’s great that you are all settled into your new home and that you are enjoying the sailing – this has been a great summer to be on the water. Congratulations on becoming a grandfather any day now – you will love it.

    Keep up the fight Phil, we are all thinking of you and rooting for you!


    1. Thanks Mary. I hope we can pull together the Dal crew for a sail with some adult refreshments before the boat comes out in mid-October.

      Peace, Love and Laughter
      Phil ❤️

  25. Dearest Phil,

    I am so very sorry to hear about this worst news possible.

    I believe it is today that you be looking at how to proceed. I continue to pray for God’s peace, comfort, and leading in this time. I also pray for miraculous healing.

    Your outlook on life and Faith in God is inspiring and you are a shining light in this world.

    Congratulations too on your first grandchild, carrying on a fine legacy and the O’Hara name!

    Hang in there dear friend, I’m so grateful we have crossed paths as we met in the ed tech world of all things.


    1. Thanks for the kind words. I too value that our paths crossed. You are one of the good guys with a moral compass pointing in the right direction. And we both have great legacies in our children.

      My Faith in God is a source of comfort and strength.

      Peace, Love and Laughter

  26. Dear Phil
    So saddened by this news but very encouraged by you positive attitude despite what lies ahead. Your sense of humour and sarcasm will help you and us in the time ahead of you I am sure. Both of us have had such a history with you professionally and personally that we feel at a lost for words. We do want you to find comfort in that we know (very well) the couple who have bought your family home and they are thrilled to start their life’s journey there where you all did. Take care of you Phil and keep us updated as you feel you can and if there is anything you need we are here! Hugs to all!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I’ve got plenty of living ahead and feel great right now. I’m about to write about my next treatment. The support and friendship from you guys over the years continues to inspire me to fight going forward.

      Peace, Love and Laughter
      Phil ❤️

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