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My friend Jean-Hugues discovered he had the same cancer I do at the same time in 2007, in Paris, France, where he lives. He and his wife Laurence found this blog, and together we made our way through treatment in part by sending messages back and forth online.

But he got better. His treatment worked. He was supposed to visit this past December but was trapped in Europe by snow. Yesterday he finally made it for his first visit to the Pacific coast, staying at the nearby Hilton. I am much weaker now, but strong enough for him to sit at my bedside while we talked (well, I rasped at least).

He has spent these glorious Vancouver spring days traversing the city, and he showed me photos. My wife and kids are pleased he could visit too, visions of future trips to Paris drifting through their imaginations.

Today my mother made Easter dinner for 19 (!) people. She and my dad live next door, so after Jean-Hugues and I spent an hour or so discussing his day, we managed to join the party, and of course he could stay much longer than I could. While his English is excellent, he enjoyed speaking French with my uncle and cousins too.

I can still hear laughing through the duplex wall. I'm amazed JH would take time and spend money to see me, or that everything could come together as it has.

But it is our last chance, because it's my last chance, my last Easter, my final spring.

His flight leaves tomorrow. My father will drive him to the airport. It was brief but well worthwhile.


Derek, I will probably never the chance to shake your hand.

I have of course been doing a lot of thinking about the parallelism of both your medical histories. I remember that during the first months, you had almost exactly the same treatments at the same time. You had the same operation. And then, the same CT-scan after that. You both had some very tiny spots on the CT-scan that didn't "mean anything". It just occurred after that that your little spots were nasty ones, and JH's little spots were just little spots.

You both had great doctors, good treatments, no material problems and loving families.

How did it turn out that way ?

Well, I've been thinking it over and over again, and it just has no meaning at all. It is the way it is, and I really do not understand how anybody can think there is a purpose, or some kind of god, or intelligent design, or whatever.

I am very happy that JH could make this trip, it meant a lot to him, even if I am the one who does the "communication" for both of us, most of the time.

I do hope that the link that was created will survive whatever comes next. I am very impressed at what you did by you blogging : create links, over the ocean.

And JH wrote me an e-mail about having the best Easter meal EVER, which I will not tell my own mother, I promise.

It was very nice meeting you Jean-Hughes. Thank you so much for coming to see Derek and our family. For you to travel from France to Canada to finally meet Derek brings tears to my eyes. An amazing evening it was for all of us. We wish you good health and a safe journey home. Sirkka

As Derek's parents, we consider it a special honour paid to Derek and our family by Jean Hugues, Laurence, and their family. We are glad he could come at this time and having had a chance to get to know him.

We'll drive Jean-Hugues to the airport later today, and we wish him a safe trip home. Perhaps some of us will meet again.

There are a few pictures we took at the dinner:

Others took pictures, too, and I expect that some of those will appear on the internet as well.

Thank you for the pictures !

It is kind of weird to actually see my husband IN your family photos, it is somehow like in those movies where a character goes into the picture... Like the Purple Rose of Cairo, for instance !

Clearly, I should read this blog more often (and also the comments). I don't really know what to add, except that, if I had any doubt, it was a long way to Vancouver and back but it was worth the trip. I was very happy to meet Derek and his wonderful family. And, of course, Karl, tout l'honneur ├ętait pour moi.

I almost forgot to say that Vancouver is also a beautiful city that I liked very much. Maybe I'll be back someday.

how tired are you at this stage of the disease? is it tired like being up all night or physical exhaustion like after exercise?

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