Monday, March 15, 2010

MDS Become AML - the Final Chapter

Mitch never regained any ground with the ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome) and today his kidneys had started to shut down and his heart rate (slowed by drugs) was irregular. His lungs continued to hemorrage.  Transfusions and a battery of drugs caused no improvement. By late afternoon we decided that it was time to let him go. His condition was so deteriorated that we felt it was cruel to keep him alive artificially.

It was a very hard decision, but the right one. The nursing staff was wonderful helping us with the decision and through it. They made sure he was comfortable. And once the decision was made, the morphine drip started, and the breathing tube removed, it was only minutes until he let go. It was time.

Yes, there is no justice. But I could not bear to think of him having to undergo more chemo and more extended stays in the hospital. We will miss him terribly and he should have had many more years, but this is what is. Laina and Ish are with me, and Nardi and Mary have been incredibly supportive as have all our friends.

Keep him in your thoughts and honor him by doing the things he would have done had he more time.
Love from all of us
Penny, Laina, Ish and all the family
P.S.  There will be no funeral according to Mitch's wishes.  We will schedule a memorial at some time in the future.  If you'd like to do something, please make a donation to your favorite charity.. 


  1. Tom and I are so sorry to hear this. We thought we'd see his smiling face and hear his snarky humor again. We'll miss him. Our hearts ache for all of you. Wishing you peace. Hilary & Tom

  2. To Penny and family
    I am so profoundly saddened to read your news. To me, Mitch was, quite literally, the person who restored my sanity. Earlier this year when I was diagnosed with MDS and thought I was the only person in the world who had the condition I quickly spiralled into depression. It was only when I discovered Mitch's blog and read his daily accounts did I come to terms with MDS.
    I so valued his honesty and "no hold's barred" approach. This was so refreshing and so different from the medical jargon I was being bombarded with and found so patronising.
    Mitch, thank you for your blog, thank you for telling us "how it is". I shall remember you with gratitude and affection and I am glad that you were supported throughout by a loving and supportive family.

  3. What sad, sad news. As I look out the window and see the pear tree about to bud, I remember how much Mitch looked forward to the last big ski trip of the season. He always brought joy -- and warm welcomes and wry smiles and bad jokes -- to everyone there. Mitch may not have been the life of the party but he was certainly its heart. All my sympathy,

  4. Mitch Kaplan will be missed by many. He was a great writer, a NASJA sentinel, a longtime ski industry pal, a fine gentleman, and someone I’ve been privileged to call a friend. Over many years we’ve worked together in different capacities. We’ve laughed and drank together, traveled and skied together, been stranded in airports together, and always made the best out of everything that came our way. That was the way Mitch approached things, and that’s what made him so special. Even through this brutal MDS ordeal, he never lost his sense of humor or his grace. Now he gets to take that most peaceful of naps and knowing how fond he was of napping, I know for sure he is at peace. Thank you Penny, for being so supportive and by his side through it all. Your strength is amazing and we all wish you and the rest of the Kaplan family strength and comfort. God Bless. Ted

  5. Mitch counted many friends in Quebec. We are all truly sorry to hear this sad news. We had a great time with him when he visited us on our slopes and during the various ESWA and NASJA trips we shared together.
    Our thougts are with you Penny, Laina and Ish.
    Nos plus sinceres condoleances !
    Yves Juneau

  6. To Penny and Laina -

    I'm so sorry. Mitch was a very special person, and the world is a smaller place without him in it. You are very much in our thoughts. Sally and Dalton Johnstone

  7. The Ides of March. Sigh. Mitch, I will miss you. I lost my brother to leukemia sixteen years ago and your blog brought back so many bittersweet memories of him. The end was a familiar scene to me, the decision painful but obvious. One way to do something in memory of Mitch would be to sign up on the Bone Marrow Registry, you may be a match for someone in need of as transplant.

    I took some photos of Mitch skiing at Windham for Snoweast a few years ago. It is how I will remember him, smiling and carving some neat turns. What a way to make a living, what a way to live!

  8. Dear Penny,

    As a new friend I was touched by Mitch's personal bravery and his literary determination to chronicle his unwanted adventure. His writing revealed his inner self and I was privileged to know him, even for a brief time. Your writing beautifully informed us of Mitch's last journey. Condolences to you and the rest of the family for your immeasurable loss.


  9. To Mitch's family, I am so sorry that Mitch has gone and I extend my sympathy to you. I agree with everything that peppertree said. I also was diagnosed with possible MDS and Mitch enlightened me and helped me deal better with this disease. A donation in his name has been sent to AAMDS foundation. Thanks Mitch

  10. I am so very sorry. This is a shock, as Mitch fought so hard. He was a wonderful, remarkable person. I so hope that a cure or better treatment can be found for this dreadful disease. With your blog, you and Mitch have made an enormous contribution to our understanding of what people with MDS go through, and I hope you will always remember that. And many more people now will remember Mitch.

  11. Please accept my condolences. Mitch's blog has been a blessing to me over the last few months.
    Best regards to you all.

  12. So sorry to hear of your loss. Mitch touched all who knew him, and even if you met him only once, you knew him because Mitch did not deal with BS. That was readily apparent. Just the truth. What a wonderful way for your husband to be remembered.

  13. Mitch has been held in high regard and will be profoundly missed by all who know him. My friendship with Mitch is via NASJA. Over the years, we shared ski runs, lift rides and apres-ski toasts and dinners at assorted mountain resorts. We had a mini-support group going for a while when we also shared mystification about and frustration with our then-teenage sons who were about the same age. In the last several months, I have followed Mitch's blog and admired his candor, perspective and humor in the face of challenge after challenge. It does not surprise me that Peppertree found strength and support from reading it. Ral joins me in condolences to you and yours, Penny. Many people have lost a friend. Your loss is greater.

  14. This is Mitch's brother Nardi.

    Mary, my wife, and I would simply like to thank everyone for posting such moving memorials on Mitch's blog. We knew his journalistic work, of course, but many of you knew him in the field and you have shown us how loved and respected he was as a friend and colleague.

    We are also very very pleased to see that his words were so helpful to others with MDS. At times I would read his blog and call him and tell him how damn eloquent he was and how sad I was that MDS had to be the subject of such eloquence.

    One more thing: Penny and Laina and Ish have been extraordinary through this ordeal. They have been nothing but loving and stayed extraordinary even and sane in an insane and more than rocky time.

    Blessings to all.

  15. Penny, Laina, and Family,

    I cannot place into words the emotions in my heart and the thoughts in my head - all of which I want to express and share with you - but I cannt find them! This is not about me - it IS about all of you and Mitch!
    From the deepest part of my soul, please accept my condolances on his passing. You have lost a lover, husband, father, and for all of us, we have lost a close friend - a good friend!
    I will keep him and all of you in my prayers and at Mass this Saturday night, at St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Upland, CA, there will be one New Jersey man on his knees asking God to hold close a good New Jersey man and a friend and that He give Mitch's family the strength to deal with their loss.
    May Our Lord be with all of you - always!

    George Holder
    Upland, CA

  16. I didn't know Mitch long or well but long enough to know that I would have liked to have known him better. We had planned a run together in Italy this January but that was not to be. He was a true professional, courteous and a gentleman who will be greatly missed by all who knew him. I pray for him and his loving family.