Flor Leibaschoff, Chief Creative Officer for Beautiful Beast agency in Dallas, Texas, shared with us her brother’s story after his colorectal cancer diagnosis. Flor and her team have been champions for colorectal cancer awareness, working with us on the Mission to Uranus and Talking Sh!t Save Lives campaigns.
Coming from a family of generations of doctors, my brother and I had been taught since the day we started breathing that prevention is better than treating a disease.
In Spanish Mejor prevenir que curar. Yet, here I am. And he is not.
May 2023 marked the fourth anniversary of Damian’s passing.
I can still remember the whirlwind of the moment his diagnosis occurred.
My mom was at home with me. The phone rang, and I could see in her face how the world was turning upside down.
She lay down on the sofa, without strength, and closed her eyes in pain.
She is a doctor and perfectly understood the concerns the family doctor was having.
He was unable to reach my brother and needed to get to him urgently.
There was something he did not like in his images.
My brother was not feeling well; we learned after his passing that he spent six months with all the symptoms, but his fear conquered him and didn’t allow him to do what he needed to do right away. He was the smartest human I ever knew, yet the fear was stronger.
I guess, deep down, he knew that something was so very wrong.
After the longest, most uncertain weekend ever, we got the diagnosis.
Colon cancer at the age of 37 – stage IV. He already had metastasis spots on his liver.
He fought for seven and a half years, leaving this world at only 44 years old, my age today.
He left three beautiful, intelligent boys and a family that loved him deeply.
Every journey is painful; we all have our stories.
With cancer it’s not just the patient, it is everyone around the patient that endures the rollercoaster.
Yet, the patient is the one whose life is at stake.
Damian’s journey was bittersweet. Damian, prior to the diagnosis, was brilliant but very moody. He looked rough on the outside, but he was so sweet inside. Ironically, after his diagnosis, Damian started smiling more. He started enjoying life to the fullest. Traveling everywhere. He taught us all how important it is to live life to the fullest. Everyone who knew Damian started to see another side of him. A side full of hope.
He had very tough days, many surgeries, and treatments nonstop, but he also had laughter like never before. This engineer in the computer world opened his heart to experiences and social events. We had conversations in those 7 years like never before.
He was my big brother, my protector, and of course, the one who fought me on every single little thing.
In those seven years, my brother transformed into a better human until he became energy.
I wished that cancer hadn’t be the trigger for that.
I saw my parents, both doctors, becoming humans who suffered and knew every outcome before it came.
I saw 14- and 10-year-old boys saying goodbye without understanding what was happening.
I saw pain and hope from the many amazing people working hard to help others live with dignity.
I saw sorrow and saw the light from strangers who today are family.
Damian was 37 years old, and those six months of fear, when he did nothing but be frightened alone, cost him his life. At least, that is what his doctor told me. And that is the main reason I joined CCC. Cancer was not the only reason my brother lost his life. The fright of having something was. The waiting without doing anything was. It’s time we speak up. We talk about this shit naturally so others feel better doing so, so others, when they have any kind of symptom, don’t waste six months doing nothing and act right away.
I can see Damian right now screaming at me for sharing his story, but I know sharing his story will help save someone’s life.