Not only is my oncologist Dr. Marc Hirsh alive and well 3.5 years after pretty much everyone expected him to die, but his family is growing.
On the same day this month that he got the good news from Hershey Medical that the 2.5-inch tumor behind his heart is still stable, he officially gained another granddaughter! Daughter Sarah adopted a precious 3-year-old girl, whom the single mom has fostered since she was about 18 months old.
“The official adoption proceedings were great,” Marc told me on the phone a few days ago. “Social services had a big party afterwards for everyone and then Sarah had a party on the weekend with a huge blow-up water slide. It was great!”
The newest Hirsh joins big brother Levi, 9, and another foster child whom Sarah has had since she was just a few months old.
The other new Hirsh family member is even younger…but much bigger.
Meet Boondock, a loving golden retriever who weighed about 80 pounds at 16 months when he came to Marc and Elizabeth.
Even though they’re both bonafide dog lovers, neither had planned on getting another dog after Marc’s beloved Jake had to be put down in 2020. But when the sweet, golden pup needed a home, it was clear to them that they should welcome “Boonie” into their house…and their 19-foot RV.
“He’s a very good traveler,” Marc said. “He really enjoys the RV although he’s too big to turn around in it and has to back up.”
Boondock is “very comfortable in small spaces” and “scrunches up” into the crawl space below the Hirshes’ bed when they lower it for sleeping, Marc said.
The three of them have plans to go out West and visit daughter Jessi and family in Oregon, with plenty of scenic stops along the way.
“I pick out all the routes and areas I want to see and make all the camping reservations,” Marc explained. “I’m the navigator and Elizabeth does all the driving.”
I asked Marc, 72, how it feels to be surviving a rare, incurable cancer for this long.
“I get anxious a couple of weeks before I go in (for a 6-month recheck) because I still have symptoms,” he acknowledged. “I get winded more easily now and you never know whether it’s old age or something else. I definitely have ‘scanxiety’ and it’s good to get a normal report.”
But he refuses to cower in cancer’s shadow, fretting about the future.
“I’m just kind of at this place where I’m really happy to be alive and have a (sound) mind and be with people I love,” he explained.
“Living in the moment really gives me peace,” he added. “I don’t worry about tomorrow. I want to be grateful and concentrate on living for today. I’m not worrying about cancer.”
P.S. Marc is moving his semi-annual checkups to summer and winter so the family can more easily take long road trips in the fall and spring. Next check-up and blog update: June 2024.
Open in your browser to enjoy “You’re Always Here (Psalm 23)” by Rich Mullins, Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist. (I wish it was better audio, but the words are still powerful.)