Without chemo, the cancer is spreading. One day his bird escaped from its cage and caught the attention of his cat. Weems rose to intercede and fell to the floor. The pain was excruciating. In that moment, he says, he knew cancer had crippled his daily routine. He quit teaching English at the University of Hawai‘i and started exploring new possibilities. “My life companion got me into fire dancing,” he says. “It’s exciting, I’m learning to spin a staff and switch hands. I haven’t burned myself yet.” His podcast, Mickey Is Dying, lets him share his journey in hopes of helping—and healing—others.
On his nightstand next to his Ph.D. certificate is a blue bag. It holds a pill for medically assisted suicide. Weems stares at it as we talk. “I will take it one day. Right now, I’m living by force of will and the aloha of my friends,” he says. “Cancer was the best thing that happened to me. I apologize if this offends anyone. I know it can be lonely and devastating. Please contact me if you need a friend. For myself, things became clearer, priorities became simpler.”
Weems’ last dance may come today or three months from now, but he’s not afraid of that. “I’m 100% afraid,” he says, “of quitting life.”