Retired Windsor teacher dying of cancer throws himself 'goodbye' party
Windsor's Dennis Solet is saying goodbye on his own terms.
The retired high-school teacher and long-time musician is dying of cancer. To celebrate his life, Solet threw himself a 'goodbye' party on Sunday.
"I've always wanted to do something," he told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive, Friday before the event. "I've been through my aunt and my mother and other people and I sat there I was thinking: 'Gee, I don't just want to go' and then everybody comes at the end, but what can you do when you're really gone."
Solet got his diagnosis of colon cancer in 2004, and doctors told him he'd have a chance if he underwent chemotherapy. A hundred and one treatments and 12 years later, Solet has decided to stop because he says his prognosis is no longer good.
As it turns out, Solet's wife and neighbour had the idea of a party before he did. He says he peeked over at his wife while she was on the computer one day, and saw that she and a neighbour were planning a block party.
"I said: 'What I'd really like is a 'Let's say goodbye while we can' party," he said. "There are just so many people who never got a chance to say goodbye. I wanted to be able to look all my friends and family in the face and say: 'Hey, we had some great times together and while I've got strength, I want to tell you what it meant to me."
Throwing yourself a goodbye party is a brave feat, but Solet said he's never been shy about his diagnosis.
"I hope [the party] is enlightening. So many people when they found out, they'd [whisper] 'Denis, he's got the big C.'" he said. "I've always been I'll stand on the mountain top and shout it out, 'I've got cancer.'"
In the last year and a half, Solet said he's experienced the most physical changes yet. He lost about 50 pounds, has felt weaker and hasn't been able to keep up with some of his favourite pastimes — golfing and riding his Harley. He's also noticed a change in how people deal with him.
"Everyone is sort of catering to me," Solet said. "In some areas, I like it. But I tell them, 'I'm still here, don't treat me different.'"
After Sunday's party, Solet hoped his guests left not being so afraid of cancer and what's coming.
"Don't let 'it' run your life," he said. "It's your life. You only got so much time. Lead it your way and be in command."
Solet's party has an open invitation to the public. He'll 'say goodbye' at the Caboto Club on Sunday between 2 and 4 p.m.