STORIES OF STRENGTH
Christian White’s Story» More
Christian White’s Story
To be completely honest, there are many people on this earth that knew Chick White, the man, better than I did. But for thirteen years I did know him as a father, and the greatest lesson he taught me will be with me always. “There are three rules that every person should live by,” he said to me. “Serve your community, serve your country, and serve yourself. And if you can live by these three rules,” my father said, “you will live a rewarding life.”
It was 1997, and a beautiful summer day in Lake Charles, Louisiana. To my father that meant one thing…we were going sailing. Chick White worked hard, but he played harder. The toy he was most proud of was his 42-foot sailboat, aptly named, “Southern Breeze”. Anchored in the middle of Lake Charles my father and I took a dip in the water, enjoying the fair weather and our time together. It was then, while just simply wading in the water that my father grew short of breath. That was the beginning.
Charles David “Chick” White was the first of seven children, and even though he was the son, the grandson, and the great-grandson of Physicians, he grew up in the medical field under very humble beginnings. You thought being a janitor was a rough profession…try being the assistant to that janitor in a nursing home. It was there among the sick and the needy that my father discovered his calling in life…to help those who could not help themselves (not to mention the brief experience greatly inspired a career change). After a few years and many study-filled nights, Chick White, the janitor’s assistant, became Dr. Chick White, the Surgeon. He practiced in Lake Charles for over a decade, making a name for himself and extending his passion and knowledge to better the lives of many people. He spent time with those he cared for, and took time to reflect with his patients after delivering a poor prognosis. He prayed with them no matter their faith. During those years my father taught me and my sister, Kelly, tolerance, empathy, understanding and strength. As a husband to my mother, Lavonne “Cookie” White, he showed endless love and support. As a Physician he showed a healing hand and a ceaseless devotion to bettering all aspects of those he cared for. As a brother to six brothers and one sister, and as the oldest son to Dr. Charles T. and Dona White, he offered an always open door and a broad shoulder to lean on. As a citizen to this great country, Chick extended his love for both sailing and Military History by enlisting in the Naval Reserve, quickly reaching the rank of Commander. He showed all of us the world, and gave the world all he had.
A couple of weeks after our trip on “Southern Breeze” my father’s fatigue continued. Despite having perfect health his entire life and recently completing basic training for his enlistment in the Naval Reserve he knew something just wasn’t right. He went to the Radiology Department in the hospital he worked in and took a chest x-ray of himself. All alone in the dark room he held the film to the light, and what went through my father’s mind when he saw the spot on his lung I will never know. Thirteen years ago Chick White sat his family down. I heard words I have never heard before. Biopsy. Adenocarcincoma. Percentages. Metastasis. Chemotherapy. Remission. Percentages. Surgery. Radiation. Percentages. Life support. Hospice. I saw tears that I did not understand, fear I could not comprehend. Ignorance, confusion, immaturity…all these played a hand in my misunderstanding of what exactly my father was preparing me for. I found myself a year later, standing before an I.C.U. bed, holding my father’s hand, a hand that for the first time since I was born did not squeeze back.
“Did you hear about Chick?” “Lung cancer.” “But he didn’t smoke.” “He was too young to have something like that.” “I don’t understand. He took such great care of himself.” “He didn’t deserve this.” “No one does.”
When Doctor Charles “Chick” White passed away just five days before his 45th birthday, a decent man was lost, a man who despite all the horrible things happening in this world managed to love, and to be loved by all he met. By becoming a Surgeon he served his community, by joining the Naval Reserve he served his country, and by living life to the fullest and exploring each new day like it was his last he served himself and the ones who loved him. Not every cancer victim is fortunate enough to say they are a survivor, but with efforts like “Free to Breathe” on their behalf, a part of my father and of those we have lost to this illness will survive. Thank you. Because of your hard work in making “Free to Breathe” possible we are serving our community, we are serving ourselves, and we are not only serving this country, but we are making this world a better, more hopeful, place. Some of the last words my father said, perhaps it was the morphine, perhaps he was the most clear-headed he had ever been, was, “Just love one another.” Remember that when we continue to do what we can to battle this disease. We are in this together. And we will beat this together.