Cancer Diary: Colin Powell Died Today


Retired Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff and former Secretary of State, GEN Colin Powell, died today from the complications of Covid-19 and cancer. Both deadly. He was fully vaccinated; however, cancer made him vulnerable, especially the kind of cancer he had, multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that lowers immunity and thereby reduces the effectiveness of vaccines.*

This death is particularly painful for my family though the Powell family has no idea of it. You see, with Carl Leaver, my husband, just dying of cancer, any cancer death is painful. However and moreover, years ago, when she was in high school, our daughter was a good friend of Anne-Marie Powell, the general's youngest daughter. All the kids gathered at the Powell house, always. Most of the kids were unaware of the stature of their friend's father because of his humility. He loved kids, and he welcomed them all -- as a father, not as a statesman or military officer. It spoke a lot about him. Likewise, when our son-in-law, Gary, another friend of his daughter, once in basic training at Ft. Drum and GEN Powell was in the area, he checked on him and Gary's fellow recruits. (And he was Joint Chief of Staff at the time, which caused quite a stir among the senior leadership at Ft. Drum and provided incredible morale to a raw set of recruits.) These kinds of things earned him deep respect from the parents of his daughter's friends, not because of the positions he held but because of the person he was.

But cancer has no mercy; it knows not what stature a person is or how good a person is. It simply kills (not always, but far too often).

*This brings up the need for cancer patients to get vaccinated. When Carl Leaver was diagnosed with cancer, he had had one Pfizer shot only, and his oncologist put off the introduction of chemotherapy until after the second shot. Managing Covid-19 and cancer at the same time would have been a nightmare and likely an immediate death sentence as it was for GEN Powell. 

For Colin Powell's life and legacy, click HERE.

For a Time Magazine ("What I Learned from Colin Powell") article on GEN Powell, click HERE.

For more posts from Cancer Diary, click HERE.

For posts on MSI Press related to Covid-19, e.g. our pandemic series, click HERE.

Blog editor's note: As a memorial to Carl, and simply because it is truly needed, MSI  is now hosting a web page, Carl's Cancer Compendium, as a one-stop starting point for all things cancer, to make it easier for those with cancer to find answers to questions that can otherwise take hours to track down on the Internet and/or from professionals. The web page is in its infancy but expected to expand into robustness. As part of this effort, each week, on Monday, this blog will carry an informative, cancer-related story -- and be open to guest posts: Cancer Diary. 


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