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Keeping the Faith




I could use this space to detail the struggles of so many people who I know:  boss, friends, co-workers.  All of them have lost their battles against brain cancer. Never did I imagine, though, that this horrible disease would invade my own family.  In February 2012, it did.  My older brother and one of my best friends, Andre Webber, was diagnosed with glioblastoma.  When he learned of the possibility, it was not something he wanted to share with many people at first.  Part of the reason, I believe, is that he probably was in denial.  Here was a man who lived life to the fullest.  He had traveled to many exotic places–scuba diving all over the Caribbean, scaling Mt. Everest, taking in the sights at Machu Pichu.  Suddenly, he was faced with a battle that he might not be able to win.  
  Although Andre has traveled the world, he comes from humble beginnings–the fifth of eight children.  We grew up in Ravenswood, a housing project in Queens, NY.  Although there were many temptations around for a young man, he always managed to do the right thing.  He has always been known as a kind and compassionate person with a big heart, and has always shown his love for other people.  He also has a strong love for animals.  Although he had plans to become a veterinarian, he ended up moving to the U. S. Virgin Islands and working with animals in a different way.  He became a scuba diving instructor where he swam with sea life everyday.  During a chance encounter in the 1980s, he met the illusionist, David Copperfield, who took an instant liking to him and offered him a job.  For two years, this inner city native got a chance to travel around the world.  But the draw of the ocean’s tranquility was too strong and he eventually returned to St. Thomas.  Although he and his wife never had any children of his own, Andre has been a positive influence in the lives of many children.  I was one of the first who he took under his wing and helped set on the right path.  There have been many others over the years–relatives and non-relatives–who he has helped to steer in the right direction.
  In February 2012, he was forced to put himself first, though.  One night while relaxing after work, he suddenly experienced an unexplained and unexpected seizure.  About a week later, on the advice of a doctor in St. Thomas, he visited a specialist at Emery University in Georgia and got the devastating news.  Within days, he had to undergo brain surgery, which later confirmed his diagnosis.  I was there for the surgery and have been with him throughout this devastating journey.  Andre has shown strength the whole way.  I have never heard him complain or feel sorry for himself.  I believe it is through his own determination that he has outlasted many people who have received similar diagnoses.  In spite of his and medicine’s best efforts, though, the disease has gained the upper hand.  He is now dependent upon a wheelchair and the assistance of friends and family.  This horrible disease has robbed this vibrant man of his ability to talk, walk or do anything for himself.  Perhaps, what is missed most by the world is his wonderful personality and sense of humor.  He is someone who has done so much for myself and other people.  It’s my hope that I will be able to say thank you to him by way of this award.

(The picture attached is of him and me in 2011.  I also have one of him taken last month, showing the drastic difference.  I was not able to attach both.)

Submitted by Katrina Webber, sister