Joe Fahy's struggle

Dateline: Wed 17 Dec 2008

Former News and Star reporter Joe Fahy is still hospitalized in Pittsburgh, in the final stages of a heroic fight against lung cancer.

His former colleague and very good friend Kevin Corcoran has visited with him and kept Joe informed of the love and concerns of his many friends in the Indianapolis area. On Sunday, Kevin sent the following email to that list of more than 100 people, which is now shared here. Thanks to ex-Star writer Celeste Williams for sending it, and Kevin for permission to reprint in part:

"Friends of Joe Fahy,

"On Thursday, one of Joe's friends from Indianapolis informed me that Joe's condition worsened in recent days and that he was growing more agitated.She had visited Joe in Pittsburgh the prior weekend and found that 'although he was able to communicate some, he was finding it very, very difficult to get enough breath to talk and was not able to stay off the vent as long as he had been in previous weeks.' Tonight, I called to check in.

"After Joe had yanked out his nasal gastric tube three times, the medical team said they would have to place Joe in restraints if they put it back in. Everyone decided

against doing this, because it seemed inhumane, and Joe has not had any nutrition since then. He is receiving 'water on a stick,' as I dubbed it during my visit. This involves dipping a sponge mounted on the edge of a stick in ice water.

"My last visit with Joe was really wonderful and miraculous in many ways, but I was reluctant to write about it because so much was up in the air. At the time it

seemed possible (to me, at least) that Joe would regain enough strength and function to leave the hospital. His cancer treatment was discontinued a couple of months

ago, so recovery from that seemed less likely. During my visit, Joe was alert and able to recall the phone numbers of his sons, whom we called on Thanskgiving Day

using my cell phone. (There's no phone in Joe's room.)

"I spent most of our time together telling him about all of the people who were thinking of him. I want you to know I mentioned you each by name, and there are more than 100 people on this list. I read a lot of your notes and comments to him. He really, really appreciated hearing all of the good wishes. Joe gave me a lot of thumbs-up during those conversations in response to various names....

"We talked a lot about life and death and mundane stuff

like the woes of the newspaper industry, the cards and letters Joe was receiving, my kids, his view of Pittsburgh ...

"The visit seemed inadequate on many levels, yet important.

"His health care representative told me tonight that Joe was extremely alert on Saturday and less so today. He went over his final arrangements with her and his oldest son, John, and decided against continuing his dialysis. He's increasingly septic and the medical experts say he's likely got no more than five days left. I'm told that Joe accepts that his fate is entirely in the hands of the Lord...

"I cannot tell you how much my heart really aches for Joe and his children. Joe is easily one of the finest people I know, and I've learned a great deal from him about living and dying. It's hard to let go, but Joe really has suffered terribly. You'll be happy to know that Joe has his family and many good friends around him. Please keep them in your prayers.


In one of the ironies of life and death, Kevin includes a couple of email messages sent from Joe just months ago, when his health was still seemingly good and the cancer at bay. Joe sent along happy news of his son's graduation from Columbia college and glowing photos of himself with his grandson Cairoon on Cairon's first birthday. He was very proud of both those events. Wrote Joe, in typical fashion:

"So my life continues to be amazing thanks to God's abundant grace."

Many of us are thinking of Joe, his family and his friends today, with love and gratitude for all he stands for.


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