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‘Father's Day’ OncOpinion Column

Berard, Costan MD; Head, Hilton SC

doi: 10.1097/01.COT.0000292591.79685.d6
Department: Letters

Former Chair of Pathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

I enjoyed reading Joe Simone's comments about Father's Day in the June 10 issue. My own father emigrated from Italy about the same time as his. He was a 14-year-old from a small mountain town just west of Pescara, facing the Adriatic. Traveling alone, he rode horseback to Naples and then crossed the Atlantic in whatever was the cheapest fare. His destination was a town in New Jersey where some immigrants from his small town had established a “beachhead.”

He successfully founded a lumber yard and fathered four children, of whom I was the youngest, before his sudden death at age 46. I was only three years old and have no memory of him, but I did learn some facts and fancies about him from my three older siblings and from his own sister and brother during a “Roots”-like trip to his small mountain town in 1977. It seemed almost unbelievable that my Harvard MD was only one generation removed from his humble beginning.

I don't know his cause of death but I was told that it was a “heart attack.” I lived with a fear of a similar demise until I was at least 50 and never worried about cancer since I was sure I would be the victim of a fatal cardiac event before the development of any malignancy. Well, I guessed wrong and am grateful for my 72 years to date, with my laryngectomy the only “disability” affecting my otherwise fully active lifestyle.

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Costan Berard, MD

Hilton Head, SC

Former Chair of Pathology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.
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