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Charlie Carillo

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To Be Frank, This Guy Is a Miracle

Posted: 04/ 3/2012 11:27 am

You can't work in the media these days without using the word "miracle" at least once a week, with gusts up to five times per week during holiday seasons.

I've always hated that word, but there's no other word for the story I'm about to tell, so buckle up -- here comes a miracle, just in time for Easter.

In his long, vigorous life Frank O'Mahony never smoked a cigarette, never abused alcohol, always ate sensibly and continued training like a professional athlete long after he retired from the game -- running, lifting weights, shadowboxing, the works.

He played for the Chelsea soccer team in England, and as far as star power goes that's right up there with playing for the New York Yankees.

That was more than 50 years ago, but you wouldn't have known it to look at Frank, who enjoyed robust good health right up until the morning he woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that his complexion had gone yellow.

He knew what it was before the doctor could tell him. As bad news goes, this was pretty much the worst. Pancreatic cancer, the same disease that took the life of Apple billionaire Steve Jobs.

Clearly, you can't buy your way out of this jam. You catch a break, or you don't.

If ever anybody didn't have it coming, Frank O'Mahony didn't have it coming. But he'd been hit from behind enough times on the soccer pitch to know that sometimes, fair play has nothing to do with the way life shakes out.

The doctors didn't sugar-coat it -- the worst-case scenario gave him weeks, maybe months.

Frank took it on the chin and didn't flinch. "I've had a good life," he said. "I'm just worried about my wife."

Frank's wife Betty, who's every bit as strong as her better half, didn't see it that way.

"He'll be fine," she told her children and grandchildren. "I just know he'll be all right."

So Frank went under the knife, and as they put him to sleep he didn't know if the tumor would be removed or if the damage would be deemed inoperable.

Flash-forward to the present. Frank O'Mahony, my father-in-law, celebrates his 76th birthday this week. He recently got some great news -- five years after his operation, he remains cancer-free.

Beating the odds is one thing. Frank kicked the daylights out of them, and walked off grinning.

And you might think this is the end of the story, but it isn't, because one night a few weeks ago Betty O'Mahony, my mother-in-law, was sitting in her living room when she suddenly doubled over in excruciating pain.

Fortunately my wife Kim was there. Kim called for an ambulance while Frank, who'd been watching a boxing match on TV, helped get his wife ready for the trip to the emergency room.

But in the midst of the chaos, he had the presence of mind to do something else, too.

He hit the "record" button on his TV's remote control device, just in case things turned out okay.

Which they did. Betty's ailment turned out to be a vicious virus. She was so severely dehydrated that they put her on an intravenous drip, but she was determined to sleep in her own bed and insisted upon going home that same night.

So Frank and my wife brought her home, and when things calmed down in the house Frank casually picked up the remote control, hit "rewind" and watched the rest of the boxing match.

I couldn't help ribbing him about what he'd done, but Frank wasn't embarrassed. In fact, what he had to say about it reminded me of those amazingly optimistic words I'd heard his wife of more than half a century speak, five years earlier.

"I knew she'd be all right, Charlie," said Frank O'Mahony. "I just knew it."

Charlie Carillo is a producer for the TV show "Inside Edition." His novels "Shepherd Avenue," "My Ride With Gus" and "Found Money" are available on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents. His website is www.charliecarillo.com.

 
 
 

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