UPDATE: Thanks to YOUR unfathomable generosity, the wheels are in motion to get Caco his big comfy couch THIS WEEKEND. We surpassed the $500 goal in less than 10 days, and those $632 raised are going directly to the purchase of the item. It couldn't come at a better time because Caco starts chemotherapy this Friday. This Hope Mob account will remain active and live through the end of March, but the funds raised during that time will be donated to a charity of Caco's choosing. I cannot thank all of you enough for the support, and encourage you to keep praying, keep trucking, and celebrate the ability to take a deep breath every single day.
When my mother found out she was pregnant with me, living as an ex-pat in El Salvador, the first call she made was to her father. Caco was smoking. He had been since he was 14 or 15 years old—8 packs a day for over 30 years. "If you take one more puff, you won't meet your grandchild," she told him. "If you don't come back before she's born, I'll go get you myself," he threatened back. He put out the cigarette in his hand and never touched one again.
For as long as I can remember, Caco has reminded me that I saved his life. He stopped smoking for me, he'd say. Dr. Francisco "Paco" Macias was born in 1933 Cuba, graduate of the University of Havana, and has been practicing medicine in the United States since escaping Castro's Communist regime through the Panamanian embassy in the late 1950s. Settling in the hills of Georgia, he opened his own practice. Among civil rights turmoil, and with his ever-present accent now tinged with a Southern drawl, Dr. Caco treated white, black, poor, and rich with a bedside manner that lies somewhere between Ricky Ricardo and Don Draper.
My Caco never thought we were sick. A cough was never more than a cough, and there was nothing Vick's Vapo-Rub and saline spray can't cure. And when in doubt, he'd say, "Ayudame a descansar." "Help me rest." And we'd lay on the couch, head in his lap, watching old movies, or the History Channel, or Dean Martin roasts on repeat. His methods were tried and true, and there was nothing Caco couldn't cure.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise when last year, Caco got sick. A persistent cough, no more jokes, energy zapped. This wasn't the Caco who swam laps with us in the summers, the Caco who played Hide and Seek and let us watch TV until 3am. Turns out, Caco had cancer. The kind we'd always feared, the kind we knew was always a possibility. Even I couldn't save him from this one. And we had no idea.
Last week, Caco had a third of his left lung removed. A piece of tissue with Stage 1B Lung Cancer. Right now, he's preparing to jump into aggressive treatment to prevent spreading, and to kill whatever toxic cells are left. But here's the thing. What can I do? I can't save him from this one, but I can help him rest.
On March 23rd, I am running in Allstate's 13.1 Marathon in New York City. Originally, I wasn't even going to tell anyone. It was a personal goal—something for me. But life is funny like that. Nothing is "just for you." And in my case now, it's all for Caco. Every breath I take, every stride, is for him. Because if it was up to me, I could be there helping him rest every step of his upcoming journey.
That's where you come in. Caco's favorite place to rest is on an old, dingy, dusty couch in his "office." There, he watches his worn Dean Martin roasts (upgraded from VHS to DVD), under a framed photo of the University of Havana and his degree, and surrounded by patients' charts and photos of us. Let's replace that couch. My goal is to raise $500. Money that will go directly to them, to purchase a big comfy couch, as comfortable as it is hypoallergenic, so he's not breathing in any pathogens that might irritate his healing lungs.
We all make mistakes, and decisions that—unbeknownst to us—will come back and haunt us when all we want to do is rest. Caco has healed his whole life, and the medicines he prescribed were the least of it. Help me help Caco "descansar." Let's get Caco a new couch.