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Gini Dietrich

#FollowFriday: Gerald Hemphill

By: Gini Dietrich | October 19, 2012 | 
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At about 3:30 this morning, my dear friend Gerald Hemphill passed away peacefully in his sleep.

The father of four girls, including my goddaughter, and husband to one of my very best lifetime friends – Misty Hemphill – he was diagnosed with colon cancer more than two years ago.

Stubborn as all get out and not willing to go down without a fight, he did everything in his power to win, even when the cancer spread to his liver and then the rest of his body.

In the last few months, he had tumors on his spine, which caused him an inordinate amount of pain and he lived his last days on the maximum amount of morphine.

About a year ago, he texted me and said, “This is not going to beat me. I want you to climb Pike’s Peak with me when I beat this.” And I promised him I would.

We never got to do that.

Last February, he also made me promise I would be an extraordinary (surrogate) aunt to the girls after he was gone. He was making plans for Michele (my goddaughter) to go to college. She’s a freshman at Wayne State College. He was making plans for his other girls to have clear directions of their lives so they could manage without him.

And he made me swear on my life I would be there to make sure they did what he expected them to do.

The last time I got to have a real conversation with him was on May 17 when they found new tumors in his right lung and colon. At that time, they were deciding on a new type of chemo and other drugs, but he knew the end was imminent.

The update from Misty on his CarePages this morning reads:

No more fighting, no more pain, my beautiful Gerald, the love of my life, the father to my many reasons to keep going, passed away this morning in his sleep. He was pronounced dead at 3:27 on October 19, 2012.

He was diagnosed on July 9, 2010. He would have been 43 years old next month.

I’m going to miss you, buddy! I’ll climb Pike’s Peak with you someday. I promise.

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About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

91 comments
MightyCaseyMedia
MightyCaseyMedia

I'm so sorry to hear this, Gini. Please give my deepest sympathies to Misty, and everyone else who loved Gerald.

 

This is yet another reason why we - "we" in this instance being all humans - need to press hard for more research into effective cancer prevention, detection, and treatment. In the US alone, cancer treatment runs up a $124.5B bill. Wouldn't it be great to be able to put those $$ into building health rather than managing illness? Just thinking out loud, as usual ...

qstreet
qstreet

I am blown away by the grace and courage shown by people battling cancer and knowing that their families will be left to live on - thank you for sharing this with us - my heart is touched and I wish you and their family love and strength

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

I am so sorry to hear about the loss of Gerald.  One of the good guys that this world could use more of.  My heart goes our to Misty and his family. 

annelizhannan
annelizhannan

I am sorry to hear of your loss.  You have reached out to us in a tribute to your friend that has allowed us to share in your grief, a grief that is known by many. May you find some solace by the support of this community that collectively extends their arms around you with their words. Our hearts are heavy but our arms are long and linked in a warm grasp.

patrickreyes
patrickreyes

 @ginidietrich This is a fantastic tribute to a good friend.  I know too well the effects cancer can have on a family and I'll be saying a prayer for the Hemphills.  Although Gerald is gone, the memories will always remain.

AlinaKelly
AlinaKelly

I'm so very sorry that you had to lose such a wonderful person so soon. My sympathies are with you and his family. 

bradmarley
bradmarley

So sorry to hear this, Gini. That's too early to die. Please accept my condolences.

BobWarren
BobWarren

@ginidietrich Have a Rock & Roll Friday, and a Super Weekend!

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

Wow. Right now I am fighting back tears (if I wasn't sitting in a crowded Starbucks, I'd probably just let 'em go). Stories like this hit me so much harder now than they used to. Please, please, please pass on my condolences and best wishes to Misty and their children. And @ginidietrich, my condolences to you as well. A great friend really is a family member by love instead of blood, and I'm sure you're feeling this loss in a profound way.

Carmelo
Carmelo

Ugh, Gini. Hard to deal with. Threw my right back to the days when my best friend died of cancer at age 33. Had young boys too. They grew up fine, married, good jobs and a loving, caring mom. Things work out but right now I'm way back to those 12 months of ... well. Wow, memories.

 

He had a great friend in you, Gini. Thank you.

magriebler
magriebler

Oh Gini. My heart breaks for all of you.

 

The world always seems smaller, diminished, when a light like Gerald's goes out.

 

Go climb Pike's Peak in his name. Maybe someday his daughters can join you. And please, please, please, talk to them about their dad. So often when people die we stop talking about them. They're not gone. They live on in those who loved them, as @John_Trader1's lovely verse so movingly says. Share his funny stories, his advice, his struggles. Keep his voice alive for his girls.

KristaThomas
KristaThomas

Such a moving tribute; I am speechless. Thank you.

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

I second @yvettepistorio. He was only 43, that's far too young to be taken from his family and friends. 

 

Colon cancer. I don't know the best practice for women, but all you men, please, please, please talk to your doctor about a cancer screening as you approach 50. There are new technologies on the horizon that will make colon cancer screenings far less invasive and expensive. But even if you must endure a traditional colonoscopy, while it may be no fun, it's not that big a deal. Do it for the people who love you.

 

My cousin had his first colonoscopy 3 years ago at age 51. They found a tiny cancerous polyp. So he's had 3 more colonoscopies since. Thank God they now say he has no more sign of the cancer. That first colonoscopy may well have saved his life. 

 

Please do this, for the people who love you. 

 

KatherineBull
KatherineBull

@ginidietrich I'm so sorry, Gini. Beautiful tribute.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1

Gini, this has always helped me in times of bereavement. Hope it does for you too:

 

Don’t Cry for me

Don't cry for me now I have died, for I'm still here I'm by your side, My body's gone but my soul's is here, please don't shed another tear, I am still here I'm all around, only my body lies in the ground. I am the snowflake that kisses your nose, I am the frost, that nips your toes. I am the sun bringing you light, I am the star, shining so bright. I am the rain, refreshing the earth, I am the laughter, I am the mirth. I am the bird, up in the sky, I am the cloud, that's drifting by. I am the thoughts, inside your head, While I'm still there, I can't be dead.

 

Strength to you my friend.

 

yvettepistorio
yvettepistorio

So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful post and tribute to him. I had tears in my eyes too! And I second what @AnneReuss says, he picked a wonderful surrogate aunt :)

mritterca
mritterca

I am so sorry for your loss. A lovely tribute to a person who clearly made the world a better place. 

AnneReuss
AnneReuss

Doggone it, you got me to cry too. I'll be thinking of the family and this is such a lovely tribune! Rest in peace Gerald - you picked a wonderful (surrogate) aunt. 

SocialMediaDDS
SocialMediaDDS

I'm so very sorry for the loss of your dear friend Gini....it sounds as though you were all grateful for each other in your lives....

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @MightyCaseyMedia I WOULD be much better to put that into building health. It makes me crazy you're told to take preventive measures at age 50, but not before. He was 39 when he was diagnosed. If colonoscopies were mandatory at every annual exam, starting in college, they would have caught it early and he'd still be alive. But I know I'm preaching to the choir. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

@KatherineBull Thanks, love. Your head better today?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @AnneReuss Oh I'm sorry! Stop back in 20 minutes for Gin and Topics. It'll make you laugh!

MightyCaseyMedia
MightyCaseyMedia

 @ginidietrich Colonscopies are pretty ... uh ... invasive, and I doubt you could get dudes to go for an annual exam if that was part of the dance. However, there are other options. As an uber-geek of health science stuff, I'm wildly excited about the "chip in a pill" tech that the FDA approved in April. THAT will deliver some new options, you betcha.

Lori
Lori

 @ginidietrich Too much of this is close to home these days. My brother-in-law is going through this right now. It doesn't look good for him but he's been fighting it for a year now and we've been bracing ourselves. :-(

Strange thing; he was diagnosed a year ago so for an entire year my daughter flew home at any occasion where the whole family would be here, not knowing which time would be the last. Because of this she had many opportunities to see her brother in the past year.

Latest blog post: Do You Suffer from Nomophobia?

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

 @ginidietrich

 I don't know. I honestly don't. Yes, the suddeness was awful. But I somtimes think it was a blessing I never had to watch her suffer through a terminal illness. Aimee's father died of cancer exactly a year prior, and I know how hard it was on the family to see him in pain, especially in those last couple of months. Bottom line, losing a loved one too early is never, ever easy.

Carmelo
Carmelo

 @ginidietrich Yeah, I know, Gini. This kind of thing is all around us. Some seem to have a handle on it and some seem to struggle with it. I've come to the realization that there are two "sides" or "selves."  The visible self of the physical endures changes and experiences of extreme highs and extreme lows.

 

The invisible self of the inner you understands and realizes the necessity of those highs and lows and that they contribute to "the whole." 

 

Sometimes that's of little comfort to us mortals! ;-)

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

 @ginidietrich I hope that as these new less expensive, less invasive (or even noninvasive) technologies replace the traditional colonoscopy, earlier screening becomes a reality.

KatherineBull
KatherineBull

@ginidietrich You're welcome. Yes, thank you, noggin is better. I have to wonder if change in weather here is making them more frequent....