Perhaps it goes without saying that Randy Pausch made a difference for me personally. I've watched his lecture Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams (on DVD from Carnegie Mellon University) and I've read his book The Last Lecture. And I'm absolutely certain I'll be watching the DVD and reading the book again. Both are within easy reach as I write this blog entry. Almost daily, I would also visit his web site to read his updates, comparing notes, so to speak, about cancer and our respective battles.
One of the benefits of the Internet is the sense of virtual community and connection. True, it's not the same as an actual relationship with someone else, but it can provide a sense of catharsis and identification.
With Randy Pausch, there was a shared passion for information technology and the entertainment industry. With Leroy Sievers, there is a shared love of the written word as well as the shared experience of metastatic colorectal cancer. But, true be told, I am almost ashamed to admit that I also turned to these two men because their prognosis was worse than my own. Doing so put my own plight into perspective.
Almost ashamed, but not quite.
We all need reality checks and comparisons with people both better off and worse off than ourselves. We need perspective. We need other voices reminding us of what is truly important.
And so I wish to thank Randy Pausch, not just for his lecture and book about living and dying well, but for being a counterpoint to my own life and battle with cancer. I am truly sad to have lost the touchstone he provided me and so many others.