I Wish Grandpas Never Died

My Grandpa working on plumbing in his basement before his diagnosis

Julie Kahmann

My Grandpa working on plumbing in his basement before his diagnosis

“You’ve got six months tops.” These are the words the doctor said to my grandpa, Michael J. Kahmann as he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The thing about cancer is that it doesn’t wait for anyone. Cancer doesn’t care that you’ve had ten kids, a wife for 50 years, that you were a successful mechanic, or that you’re a published author

It was estimated in 2019 that over 600,000 people were killed by cancer according to the American Cancer Society. 

According to Pancreatic.org, pancreatic cancer has only a 20% survival rate across all stages of the cancer, and a 7% survival rate over a five year period. 

When asked about why he was so carefree about dying he simply told me, “I’ll finally get to be with my boy after all these years. Yeah, It’s gonna be hard leaving all you here, but I’ll watch over you guys.” 

My grandpa lost his eldest son, Billy Kahmann, to a drunk-driving accident many years ago and it’s had a huge impact on our family.

“You can’t go through life blinded by the past, just like you can’t drive a car only watching the rearview mirror. You have to pay attention and recognize all the blessings in your life because when they’re gone it makes you regret the things you didn’t do,” said Grandpa Kahmann.

A true inspiration, my Grandpa built a helicopter, was a master mechanic for over 40 years, and was a successful author of two books. Despite being diagnosed with cancer, he hasn’t lost his sense of humor and still manages to have a good time. 

“I’ve lived, and I’d like to think I did a pretty good job raising my kids. I’m just a crazy old man, cancer is lucky to have me,” said Grandpa Kahmann. 

My Grandpa is not an emotional person but when I asked him about the role his wife plays in his life, his voice broke when he said, “I couldn’t have done it without her… After all this time I still love her like the day I met her, and I haven’t ever stopped.”

We can all take a lesson from my Grandpa’s situation as he continues to remain strong and enjoy his life, despite being diagnosed with such a heavy disease.