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Ron Patton | March 16, 2023

For most people, the thought of dying is something too overwhelming to think about. Everything changes when you are given a death sentence; in fact, it usually makes you more aware of how fragile life is and how we take it for granted. There is just living until your body won’t let you and in some cases, you can make the decision to end your life with the help of a doctor. Mickey Weems was granted a second chance at life in 1984 when he was lost at sea and miraculously rescued. Now, with Stage 4 prostate cancer, he is using his time to build unity and love with others while courageously choosing his time of transcendence. Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks with Mickey Weems about MICKEY IS DYING.





There was a brief moment in my career when I was working for a Classic Rock Station called Z-93. It was a very popular station; in fact, it was voted one of the best classic rock stations in the west.  I was working late night, and I also stayed for the morning show and was writing and producing funny bits and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

Then one day the engineer came in and took us off the air — hooked up a computer that gave a strange countdown.

I was told that the station was changing formats to country.  I was shocked because I had no idea that new country was popular and was introduced to a whole new attitude when it came to a classic form of music that my parents raised me on.

At first I was a little reticent but got the hang of ramping up country songs.  But it did not last long, I decided to move into being a news reporter and talk show host. But finding new music was always welcome and for a time I was listening to country music and after 9/11 happened it seemed that country was really hot as old home patriotism took over.

But I started to grow tired of it and went back to my rock and roll habits.

Around 2007 into 2008 I had been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma.  it was a shock to me and I was in denial for some time– I was being shown X-rays and the doctors said I had two choices either get Chemotherapy or have a number of surgeries to have them removed.  I chose the surgeries.

Of course, the thought of dying was something I had to face. In fact, I didn’t want to think about it — then I heard this song by Tim McGraw.  The song was called “Live like you were dying.”

It was about a man diagnosed with Cancer and upon realizing the end was coming he decided to do all the things he never did before, trying new things, like skydiving and hiking in the mountains — and he also made a commitment to be a better friend and husband.

It was about how everything changes when you are given a death sentence; in fact, it gives you more reasons to be more aware of how fragile life is and how we take it for granted.

I wasn’t necessarily given a death sentence, but I certainly would have died if I didn’t have the surgeries. it wasn’t enough. 5 years later I had to go through it again because there were more tumors found.

The third surgery was the most brutal and painful– but I had to fight –and I did, it was tough and you lose a lot of people in the process — but you gain people whom you never thought cared about you.

It is not just about living like you are dying — it is trying to live and knowing that you may die at any time.  It is a dark cloud that eventually wears off because, after years of being cancer free you decide that God must have plans for you — and now I believe he does and this is why I am here.

I know that my story isn’t the only one and I know people deal with death in many ways but my producer, Ron, was telling me about his friend Mickey Weems and how he was diagnosed with Stage 4 prostate cancer.

Listening to his story got me thinking that there is a third choice when it comes to your health and cancer.  There is chemo, there is surgery, and then there is just living until your body won’t let you and in some cases, you can make the decision to end your life with the help of a doctor.

I know that this choice is controversial and some people see it as giving up — but sometimes it may be the best choice because of the severity of what happens as the cancer progresses.

From what I have read about Mickey Weems is how he has courageously faced death before.

He was lost at sea and was rescued by the SS Independence, a cruise ship between the islands of  Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, the sun had set, He  was sunburnt and suffering from hypothermia, and if the currents had stayed true, he would have been in the vast stretch of water between Hawaii and Tahiti by morning.

It just so happened that the Independence passed just a few yards south of him and a crew member smoking a joint heard him yelling “Help! Help!”  he looked up and saw the constellation Orion in the sky above the ship as it did a U-turn to rescue him.

He trained in anthropology, folklore, queer studies, men’s studies, and religious studies.

His works have been influenced by his experiences as a US Marine, ocean lifeguard, initiate into Candomblé, circuit party participant-observer, and eventual conversion to progressive Islam.

Among his research goals are the development of theoretical means for the reduction of public violence as well as the promotion of inter-religious dialogue.

He also has done work with his own personal experience on championing the right to choose one’s death when faced with terminal illness as he negotiates his end of life with stage 4 prostate cancer.

That’s right Mickey is dying, and now with all of the good living and finding the meaning of life and spreading joy to those around him, Mickey has chosen to end his life.

In 2021, Weems learned that he had Stage 4 prostate cancer, and the diagnosis was terminal. Deciding that quality of life was more important than the length of it, Weems decided against chemotherapy, and is only accepting treatments that improve the quality of life.

The state of Hawai‘i allows for terminally ill patients to choose the time of their death. Recalling the voice that spoke to him when he was lost at sea, Weems has confidence that the Universe from which he came will continue to care for him when he dies.

He has taken the option for choosing his time of death and will make arrangements with his friends and family to be around him for that final day.

Mickey is an example of how being honest, decent and ethical while living righteously can show how perhaps we should all live as if we are dying.

The eternal nature of reality is quite a massive proposition to ponder and every moment in time is loaded with all sorts of reasons for why things are as they are.

Sometimes it takes courage to embrace the light.

The light, when shining fully and illuminating those things you were once confused about, may seem too bright and overwhelming, and you may be tempted to close your eyes or turn away from the intensity.  Mickey apparently has welcomed the idea that the Universe will cradle him and give him comfort when he passes away and has not shied away from the intensity of the light.

He obviously believes that your eyes will soon adjust to the new conditions, enabling you to witness more than you had ever realized was possible in your previous state of ignorance and uncertainty.

It is not that you are fighting for life when you choose to die, it is choosing to live life to its fullest when you realize your time is short no matter what choice you make.

We should not live life in the fear of our own shadow.

There is no need to feed the disease — it is about starving the beast from coming to take you away .

A sense of humor is very helpful in living a meaningful life despite the current instability of social life. The ability to laugh at oneself and to laugh with others over the irony of situations makes life more bearable.

Mickey has chosen this route before he chooses to die.

The destination is the end-state and the process is how you get there.  You can choose to be brooding or you can find faith in all things and in people.

William Wordsworth wrote a poem called ODE– which attempts to explain life and death and the illusory nature of the life experience.

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,

Hath had elsewhere its setting,

And cometh from afar:

Not in entire forgetfulness,

And not in utter nakedness,

But trailing clouds of glory do we come

From God, who is our home:

Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

Shades of the prison-house begin to close

Upon the growing Boy,

But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,

He sees it in his joy.”

The expanded portion of the ode is related to the ideas expressed in Wordsworth’s The Prelude Book V in their emphasis on childhood memories and a connection between the divine and humanity. To Wordsworth, the soul was created by the divine and was able to recognize the light in the world. As a person ages, they are no longer able to see the light, but they can still recognize the beauty in the world.

Yes, Mickey is going to die but he still sees the beauty in the world and wants to make it better, by generating the enthusiasm and encouragement of people to try and seek out and have empathy for lifestyles, religions, and people they do not understand.

Life experiences have made Mickey unafraid of dying, but he’s keenly empathetic to those without such experiences now facing their own death or the loss of a loved one. The difference between surrender and acceptance is debated, but it all boils down to how honest we are to ourselves and how we can deal with the fact that we are all human and that in the end, it is important to dance even if nobody is watching.



Mickey Weems is a man of modest aspirations. He wishes to give counsel to the world as to how to prevent our extinction, and he has aspirations for “bodhisattvahood.” Other than that, he is overeducated, overjoyed, and overwhelmed by the love of his friends during his last few days.

Written by Ron Patton


This post currently has 10 comments.

  1. Pat

    March 16, 2023 at 5:12 pm

    My Old. Man…. Use to say , Every day above ground is a. Good Day!!! Every mornin I think ok that! Life is too short…, enjoy the little things in life , never know it might be you last day on earth…..,,

  2. Andrew w.

    March 16, 2023 at 5:57 pm

    I got into an accident when I was 18 or 19 I was picked up by 2 friends who where driving a low rider pickup truck , it looked like the one from the movie Jason’s lyrics ! But the cab was on and it only had a bench seat so as teenagers nobody want 3 guys upfront cruising for girls so I jumped in the bed and sat behind the driver with my back to him and he was swerving trying to scare me and after yelling in the back widow they shut it well he slammed into the guardrail at 65 mph. The last thing I heard was glass breaking in me ear as I turned to yell into the window the I seen everyone I knew and said to them Good by then I was with my dad I talked to him and asked to stay with him and he said No it’s not your time then I woke up to ambulance and paramedics around me saying talk to me and stay with me I said get me up they said we are waiting on the helicopter , when I was leaving the hospital I asked why I had to bands on my arm that said John Doe they said either I was dead on arrival to the hospital or when they found me and my dad died when I was 5 so death isn’t the end it’s a beginning !!

    • Catherine America

      March 16, 2023 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks. Andrew. What a wonderful story! My dad would be 104 today, so learning of your death and resurrection is a poignant gift.

  3. joe

    March 17, 2023 at 1:42 am

    YES life.. beautiful .. yeah Some people see many strange scary & wonderful things. since 1958 I ve seen history . just read about. catch up lost mother too breast cancer 1967 one of the first Archive cases at Greenpoint Hospital Brookyn NYC.IN Smithsonian Archives now.. thru the years lost SO many Friends & FAMILY members too suicided , DRUG O.Ds . Gang wars, mafia wars, 9 -11 A cousin & 2 lady friends. a couple close firemen. on 9-11 .lost many too covid my baby boomers get got whack. lost school chums too VIETNAM. IRAQ. who came home cripple dis…BUT 2023 HAS BEEN THE WORST YEAR SO FAR LOST A BROTHER two cancer,,one too suicide, brother in law by heart attack. 2 uncles too diabetes . a first cousin too liver cancer. and close to 27 so far co-workers & life long a rough year..but never give up never..I HAVE A BAD FEELING for 2023 not good… somethings off ??world -people somethings. not RIGHT ????? QUESTION IS WHAT

  4. Jimbo

    March 17, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    “Either Christianity is true or it’s false. If you bet that it’s true, and you believe in God and submit to Him through Christ, then if it IS true, you’ve gained God, heaven, and everything else. If it’s false, you’ve lost nothing, but you’ve had a good life marked by peace and the illusion that ultimately, everything makes sense. If you bet that Christianity is not true, and it is false, you’ve lost nothing. But if you bet that it’s false, and it turns out to be true, you’ve lost everything, and you get to spend eternity in hell.” ~ Blaise Pascal

  5. Jimbo

    March 17, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    A choice to die must never become an imposed, government mandated “duty” to die. Life itself is a 100% fatal condition, excepting the end-time rapture generation of believers, that remain.

    Happy St. Patrick’s Day, honoring this man:

    “The monasteries he founded or encouraged became centers of literacy and learning, sprawling universities devoted to knowledge, which would in time serve to collect and preserve the written record of western civilization after the fall of Rome”, writes Professor of Philosophy Joshua J Marck . “The Roman Empire had never invaded Ireland and so the land was relatively unaffected by its fall. In the Christian Monasteries of Ireland, those great written works of the past were copied and preserved through the dark ages, for future generations. Through his vision and mission, St. Patrick changed not only Ireland but the world.”

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