“I am a journalist. Sunshine is boring.”

Gar Joseph, 71, a legendary Philadelphia Daily News editor, died Saturday after a nearly four-year battle with glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. Here are excerpts from a column, Racing with Mr. Death: A tabloid guy’s approach to his cancer, he wrote on June 10, 2016.

GLIOBLASTOMA is brain cancer. Radiation and chemotherapy fight it. Darren Daulton beat it! Blah, blah, blah.

The doctors at Jefferson—oncologists, glioblastomists, radiation shooters—are nothing but sunshine.

I am a journalist. Sunshine is boring.

“I understand how most patients view a fatal illness,” I told my medical group. “But bad news doesn’t bother me. In fact, the more detail you give me – bad and worse – the happier I will be.”

Happier on the story. Not on my mortality. . . .

“I’ll sign a paper that says you can tell me the scariest, most hopeless, stuff and I will neither sue nor complain. In fact, I’ll praise you!”

They looked at each other. A couple of them smiled.

“I’m at the Daily News,” I said. “Tabloid stuff.” . . .

I’m on the backstretch now, and the docs are looking at me through binoculars (magnetic resonance imaging). Everything looks good.

It’s early. The far turn will show more. The near turn, even more important. Then, down the stretch usually gives the answer.

Impossible to predict, of course. Think of Barbaro. Won the Kentucky Derby. Died soon after.

If you want answers, you can get them, but they’re opinions. Odds, not facts. If you want reality, you move forward and pay attention to details.

That gives you a sharper idea of when you’ll meet Mr. Death. But don’t feel bummed out. Everyone will meet him.


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