AllBetter

Cancer & Recovery

November 03, 2021 JoeVanWie / Dick Conaboy Season 1 Episode 4
AllBetter
Cancer & Recovery
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Richard P. Conaboy Jr. knows all too well that cancer does not discriminate. He has lost two daughters, two brothers-in law to cancer and his son, daughter and sister are cancer survivors. Currently his sister-in law is being treating for her cancer. As if cancer didn’t already hit close enough to home, Dick was diagnosed with cancer within the last year and is doing well. Despite the losses and pain Dick has faced related to cancer and his own addiction recovery, he has continued to give back to the local community through the Spirit of Hope Celebration Board of Ambassadors, the American Cancer Society, and other organizations near and dear to him.

Dick is a graduate of Marywood University where he earned a B.S in Psychology. He has been in the field of addiction and recovery for over 20 years. He spent two decades working at Clearbrook Treatment Center where he over saw the day-to-day operations of the DDAP licensed and JACHO accredited residential treatment facilities as Vice President of Clinical Operations. He is currently the CEO of Lakeside NEPA Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center located in Scranton.

He has dedicated his life not only to his own recovery, but also to helping those afflicted by the disease of addiction. Dick is well respected in the community as a speaker, educator, and advocate for those in the recovery community. Whether it’s helping those in need or his own medical care, Dick has continued to be an embodiment of the spirit of hope.

For More information of the "Spirit of Hope Celebration" please check Link below!

https://cancernepa.org/

https://cancernepa.org/newsevents/special-events/spirit-of-hope/

For help with Substance Use Disorder please visit,

https://lakesidenepa.com/ 

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Joe Van Wie  0:10  
I'd like to thank you for listening again to all better.fm. I will be your host, my name is Joe and we Today's guest is Richard econ avoid Jr. Richard knows all too well that cancer does not discriminate his last two daughters, two brothers in law, cancer, and His Son, Daughter and Sister are cancer survivors. Currently, his sister in law is being treated for her cancer, as if cancer didn't already hit close enough to home. Dick was diagnosed with cancer within the last year and is doing well. Despite the losses and pain that this face related to cancer and his own addiction recovery is continued to give back to the local community through the spirit of hope celebration, or two ambassadors, the American Cancer Society and other organizations near and dear to him. Dick is a graduate of Marywood University where he earned a bachelor's in psychology. He has been in the field of addiction and recovery for over 20 years. He spent two decades working at Clearbrook treatment center, where he oversaw the day to day operations of the D DEP licensed and accredited residential treatment facilities as Vice President of Clinical Operations. He is currently the CEO of Lakeside and EPA Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center located in Scranton. He has dedicated his life not only to his own recovery, but also to helping those afflicted by the disease of addiction. Nick is well respected in the community, as a speaker, educator, and to advocate for those in the recovery community. Whether it's helping those in need, or his own medical care, because continue to be the embodiment of the spirit of hope.

Let's meet thanks for coming today. Glad you can make it. I know. It's been two weeks in the progress if your

Dick Conaboy  2:38  
pleasure.

Joe Van Wie  2:40  
And I'm excited. It kind of happened organically. And I get to interview you today. And it's a week prior to a celebration where you're going to be honored. Yes. And that will be for the spirit of Hope Foundation, which is a fundraiser for the Northeast Cancer Institute. Correct. So that's gonna be November 12. And Dick is going to be the honoree this year and I'm wanting to have them here to congratulate them. And maybe tell a little bit about that story of why they're honoring you today.

Dick Conaboy  3:19  
On behalf happy to Well,

Joe Van Wie  3:21  
I just kind of gave me a lead him but usually when people in recovery are on the show, I just asked them to maybe speak to who was Derek How would you sum up who is Dick before Deke guts over?

Dick Conaboy  3:35  
Well, I was a raving maniac. My dad, as you know, is a federal judge for 50 plus years, and my greatest aspiration was to be a biker. So that tells you a little bit about how messed up my thinking was back then. I spent 24 years using and I got sober when I was 33. So obviously I started using very young. I started drinking at nine or 10 years old and I got into drugs. I valine off when I went to Scranton prep at 14 years old. I have used every drug there is no no mankind and how have used them. Way, way, way too much. I'm one of those drunks and drug addicts that had to lose everything in order to begin to get sober. I started trying to get sober in 1978 when my first daughter was due to be born and I didn't get sober until 1985. I was in and out in and out in and out. Somehow. And it was the result I ended up my last treatment I hope as a result of a suicide attempt. And May 7 1985 was my last drink. But before that I destroyed everything. On May 8 1985, my father came to see me and Mar worth and told me he didn't have a sundeck anymore. I'm his namesake. Told me until I did something about this, I didn't exist, don't come to him for help, don't come from money don't come to his house. He said, I will take care of your wife and children, but you're done. My mother walked away crying. My wife came and took the two children. And we had I had a one month old and a seven and a half year old at the time. And told me I was no longer welcome in our house. I had no job I had worked. For the Bureau of corrections, oddly enough, from 1975 till 1980 as a psychiatric counselor, strangely enough.

Joe Van Wie  6:26  
Sorry. That's awesome.

Dick Conaboy  6:28  
Yeah, it's it was very strange. I would see inmates every morning and tell them they needed to go to either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, then I would go in the bathroom and blow some speed. And

Joe Van Wie  6:44  
can speak to what was your empathy still working in the sense of really relating with these people? Was it So absolutely,

Dick Conaboy  6:51  
I they would come in and tell me their stories. And I would sit there and think you know what, just sounds way too familiar. I drank every day, I had to drink every day, or I'd get sick. And I drank every day, even when I worked at the prison. I would finish I do speed during the day and finish my workday at at four or five o'clock or whatever. And then I would go down to I was living in Disneyland of Pennsylvania, which is state college at the time. And I would go down to the State College hotel and up to the Allen room bar and sit there and it was like the old chairs, you know where everybody knows your name. And I carried on and on my first daughter was born and I stayed drinking. I drank the day she was born. I went to a was super, super bowl sunday 1978 She was born.

Joe Van Wie  7:59  
It was already a problem like to everyone around you to absolutely

Dick Conaboy  8:03  
my mother had been telling me since I was 17 years old, that I drank too much. And I had gotten in lots of trouble. Again, having a father who was a judge, I skated the real difficult times. You know, cops would pick me up and take me home or follow me home or do whatever. Which was sometimes worse than I would have rather gone to jail occasionally with the punishments that I would get, but

Joe Van Wie  8:39  
I think a lot of people can appreciate that idea. I used to think I was getting pulled over and there'd be a sense of relief.

Dick Conaboy  8:46  
Absolutely.

Joe Van Wie  8:47  
This this all ended.

Dick Conaboy  8:49  
Absolutely. But it didn't. And again, as I said, I carried on my my poor wife. And I started going out. We're about 16 years old. I've been married for over 45 years. And I put her through hell so many times. I get sick when I drink. But it doesn't stop me I get sick and I throw up and then I drink some more. And

Joe Van Wie  9:21  
give me more than some normal you have a violent reaction to drinking

Dick Conaboy  9:27  
oil just about every time I drank I get sick. Well believe it or not.

Joe Van Wie  9:31  
What do you think that was?

Dick Conaboy  9:33  
I think it was God trying to tell me hey dick, this isn't for you. There's there's a different way for you. I have picked that up afterwards. I never thought about that while I was drinking. But afterwards I really believe people talk about the higher power in this program. The my higher power is God and I Know that offend some people, I don't really care. I believe that I am here today. Because God said you have something else to do in this life. I tried to commit suicide three times successfully once they found me dead, brought me back. I have, as I said, used innumerable amounts of drugs and alcohol. And I'm still here. And apparently I'm still here because there's something I'm supposed to be doing. That's my personal belief. And as, as a result of this thinking, I actually believe that God was saying to me all along Hey, Dick, you're not supposed to be drinking. My father used to say to me, Dick, kind of voice can't drink. I had an uncle Ray, my father's youngest brother who died of alcoholism. I had other uncles and other relatives who got into all kinds of problems because of alcoholism. An uncle who lost his eyesight temporarily because of alcoholism, kind of which can't drink. And myself and, and I have a younger brother Conan, who's sober longer than I am. I'm sober. 36 years now he's sober about 38. And he doesn't work the program. He doesn't do it the way I do, but he stay sober. And

Joe Van Wie  11:39  
well, I think first off, I love people who are unapologetic for God, even as a secular guy, with the same thing that was calling you, I had opened my eyes when I hear guys like you speak and to that idea of God, however anyone wants some packet, it means something to me, that doesn't set off my antagonism. Because what you did by being sober and hearing you speak my life last 15 years, I knew I wasn't different than like, like, I knew that there was a store, we're always putting out. So I could relate to that deeply. And my eyes have been open to that idea of being called to be around people like ourselves. That's real, that tug is real. And then to look back and see that toggle happening. I can relate to that very much.

Dick Conaboy  12:31  
And when it happens for you, it's it's miraculous. It's like, all I've done wrong all of my life, and there was lots. God, there was lots. I did so much wrong, it was unbelievable. But all that I've done wrong, all my life has somehow been lifted from me. And all I have to do is wake up every day, don't drink, don't drink, go to meetings, talk to another drunk or drug addict every day. Work the steps with the sponsor and pray. That's all I have to do. If I'm doing those five things. My life is okay. And, and okay, by the way is okay. My life does not have to be spectacular, which I always thought it had to be. It has to be okay, though.

Joe Van Wie  13:20  
So, do you feel relieved to some degree of the prior condition that brings on that, that you drink? Like if my mind stays this way long enough? Eventually I start thinking it's either safe to drink or I don't care. Do you feel relief from those five things?

Dick Conaboy  13:37  
I do. I it took a long time. I won't kill anyone I for the first, whatever, a year or so that I was sober. I was white knuckling a ham. And then my first daughter died. My oldest daughter died. I was a year and a half sober at the time. When Megan died, and the first two people at the hospital were my sponsor and my brother Colin. And they said to me, you just can't drink. I wanted to shoot them. I couldn't get off my knees. Literally. I was literally on my knees crying. I could not Megan was my oldest daughter. She was just nine when she died. And I couldn't get off my knees. But they were right. No matter what else. I couldn't drink or drug. And I came back here and got surrounded by the people in this program. And they were so kind to me that it was just unbelievable to me. These were people I had made fun of in the past. I used to go to meetings and say this one was a loser that one's a crybaby this one I'll never make it. Take everyone's inventory but my own of course And those very same people came on and they came with me to pick out the casket. When my first daughter, it was just unreal. And, and as a direct result of of getting through those weeks, my wife temporarily lost it after my first daughter died god, yeah, all she wanted to do was be with Megan in the cemetery. She kept saying I just want to die. And I hope I'm not blowing up her spot. But she had a very difficult time and for the first time in my life, I was there for somebody else. I'm one of 12 children, I'm the second oldest of 12 children. And I was never there for anybody. I was a self centered selfish, self occupied young troublemaker. And I got to be there for Susie for for whatever it was worth. And and I got through the first weeks after Megan died and cried a lot. suffered a lot. And we had an 18 month old time. Suzanne, and things got better. But I got through that. And and amazed myself. Because joy I couldn't go 30 minutes without a drink or a drug. I couldn't go 30 minutes. Well, before I went to Alina Lodge, I came out of Alina lodge in 1985. And fortunately, I've been sober ever since.

Joe Van Wie  17:05  
I think about you often. When I think drunks can relate to this drug addicts. What scenario would cause me to relapse? Like in my head, like what would be the excuse? Like if this happens, that's that. And that doesn't exist in my head because I know you. I think of you and see the fellowship via just break your heart and surround you. That's power that can't be ignored it you can't be cynical about meetings anymore recovery community. They saved your life

Dick Conaboy  17:37  
and you can't find it. Oh the place. My family is as close as close can be all of my brothers and sisters are still alive. My mom and dad died within the last three years or so. In fact, November 9 Is my dad's anniversary. But we're as close as can be very loving, unbelievable family. I'm one of the luckiest human beings you've ever met. My brother Billy took care of me when I couldn't take care of myself. And he's seven years younger than I am. But they couldn't take care of me. The way the program did. Yeah, the people in this program came out and understood that all they wanted was a drink or a drug. Yeah. There's only one thing that can take this pain away. And that's a drinker drug. And they prove that false to me. And save my life.

Joe Van Wie  18:37  
It did more than that. I mean, to for me, when it happens to me and from what I hear from you the empathy of not being afraid to feel someone else's pain, right, a spotlight going on your wife. That's that's who I want to be. And I don't know how to be that way. Alcohol gave me relief, but it doesn't let me be that map. Takes it all away. That's tremendous. So this is a hurricane he got through after the first year of sobriety, right? What are the next decade look like for you? In sobriety,

Dick Conaboy  19:12  
five years after Megan died, Patricia died. My fourth daughter, I have had to end between Suzanne and Michelle, who are still living and Patricia died three days after her second birthday, about six years into my sobriety. And we went through the same thing again. And it's a it's a very rare kind of cancer.

And when Megan died there were only four cases in known history of a young lady getting this type of cancer When Patricia was diagnosed with the same cancer she was fairly catatonic for almost a year. We fed her through a tube and gave her chemo we had. It was like a cartoon bottles with skull and crossbones on in our refrigerator. But we fed her that way and gave her chemo that way and, and she died. Three days after her second birthday, we buried her on my 40th birthday. My life had gotten better after Megan died. Jobs started coming along. I hadn't worked in five years. Yeah. Before I got sober. I left the prison system and went to law school allegedly. And that's a whole other story. That's its own story, right? And wasted five years of my life. And jobs started coming along and my life started getting better and our life together started getting better. And then Patricia, unfortunately, was diagnosed with the same they told us at first, by the way that it was not familial. Yeah. And obviously, they were totally wrong. Because Richard was born. Patricia died September 8, of 1992. Richard was born September 30 1992, Suzy was nine months pregnant when Patricia died. And B, before two years of his life was over, they diagnosed him with the same cancer. But I'm happy to say that cancer research has come so far that they, they also said, he's not gonna live till his fourth birthday. And then they said, Well, maybe if we tried a bone marrow transplant. My oldest daughter was 12 at the time, and was an exact match for Richard, which was very strange. And she donated her ball, Maryland saved his life. He's 29. Now, it was just 29, September 30.

Joe Van Wie  22:34  
I mean, I, you're so over a year, then you walk into this five years later, there's no retreat from the reality you're facing every day. Did you feel at any point? This associated? Like where's the relief

Dick Conaboy  22:48  
I in life? I got very involved with the cancer society at the time. Okay. I was on the cancer board. And then I was on the state board and you know, whatever. You even went as far as Atlanta with them. And in fact, I brought the first that all night gig that the Cancer Society did I brought the first one of those here to the to the area that the black and blue ball No, that's another that's that's for Muscular Dystrophy at the moment. But I got involved with the Cancer Society and I started doing more and more research into into cancer. That's me,

Joe Van Wie  23:39  
oh, no worries, it's part of the production value, okay, with sound effects. But did that fulfill a void? Like, was the involvement fulfilling?

Dick Conaboy  23:52  
Or just No, I got more involved with the AAA program. At the same time, I got involved with the Cancer Society and I really took off with the AAA program. I'm ashamed to say that I'm not as involved in the AAA program these days. As I was back then, sure. I used to go to five and six and seven meetings a week. When I first came out of treatment, I went to two and three meetings a day. I was cleaning carpets at night, that was my job. And I went to two or three meetings a day I went to five and six and seven meetings for years. I am I still sponsor about 10 people, which is too many. But many of them are long term.

Joe Van Wie  24:44  
We are grant sponsor now to Yes, I bought spring everywhere.

Dick Conaboy  24:47  
I do. And many of my responses are are 25 years and 30 years sober. Yeah. So it's not as bad it's not as hard. I

Joe Van Wie  24:57  
don't think people speak enough to you don't hear to me. didn't because I don't think old timers would bring this up. But being sober 35 years has its own subset of strange problems that most people don't get to encounter. Being sober. 35 years

Dick Conaboy  25:12  
I'm sober more than half my life. I'm 69 years old and I'm sober 36 years. So I'm sober more than half my life. And and I wonder sometimes, where went, Yeah. And what I'm doing. I worked 20 years at Clearbrook. For Nikhil Angelou Yeah. And I ended up a vice president there and, and I loved it. It was probably the most rewarding thing I've ever done. up to an including today. You know, I have Lakeside right now, which is an outpatient facility. But it's not the same.

Joe Van Wie  26:02  
It's a different level

Dick Conaboy  26:04  
of care is a totally different level of care. And you don't get as close with with the patients. I do eight groups a week. Clearbrook was

Joe Van Wie  26:18  
a special place. It was a community and you're talking probably 10s of 1000s of people you've come to know over the decades being there and it was run. It was ran, there was this tinge of community it wasn't this, you couldn't see the edges of this hard network or professionals or huge health care model. People were connecting up there.

Dick Conaboy  26:42  
Right. The big health care companies came in toward the end of my reign at at Clearbrook. And in fact, Banyon took over and when they came in, I was out.

Joe Van Wie  26:54  
Yeah, I knew that wasn't gonna be that can't be your speed. I mean, did they take the guitars out?

Dick Conaboy  27:00  
They took everything out. They they really took a they changed the whole program, which was their prerogative in their place. And I think Clearbrook probably does a pretty good job right now. I don't know. I haven't talked to many people who have gone through Clearbrook in the last couple of years since I left. But I know it's different.

Joe Van Wie  27:26  
Yeah, it is. There was there was a personal touch AEV to take someone there any hour of the day. One call, come on down, we'll work we'll figure it out. And you brought someone there. Absolutely. It's immediate help. That's that's, that's the kind of help people need before they change their mind and get sick.

Dick Conaboy  27:45  
I used to get a call at midnight, and it'd be Nick and saying, Sean B is coming into treatment again, you know, and and. And we did we treated Shawn like eight times. Yeah. And he got sober. Yeah. But there was no waiting. Yeah, wait till tomorrow morning. And we'll see how you're doing. And we'll see what the insurance company says. And we'll see. None of that. It was get them in here and let's help them get better. And everything that was done at Clearbrook helped me to become a better person. I got to help other people and other people helped me. And that's how this program has been working for the last 36 years for me. I learned from the newest person in the program. That that's one thing that's not different about Lakeside and Clearbrook is the new people who come in. You know, they'll start talking about Uncle dam. There it is. That's where I was missing.

Joe Van Wie  28:57  
Yeah. Yeah, I think for people that just start to understand that the problem is, you know, can only be approached being sober that but that's not the problem. And I think you have 30 days and a stable that's, that's what you're trying to, to convince someone that being sober is just the beginning of solving this problem. Because using drugs and drinking is the solution for a guy like yeah, and me. And then when it's gone, I It's hard to acknowledge that there was a condition existing prior to using drugs every day. And I haven't dealt with it. I just thought if I don't drink, I'll be fine.

Dick Conaboy  29:39  
And and you get surprised

Joe Van Wie  29:43  
Well, yeah, that that change too but

Dick Conaboy  29:45  
I was nowhere near fine when I stopped drinking and drugging I. I remember being at a Lena lodge I went right to Alina lodge from Mar worth in 1985. I remember being at a Lena lodge for almost 60 days and feeling withdrawal. And suddenly I I realized I was a scared little puppy. You know, I went from the tough guy that wanted to be the biker. And I used to fight all the time. Yeah. I was in more fistfights than you could possibly imagine. And this body is not meant for fighting.

Joe Van Wie  30:28  
How old were you at Elena Lena lodge

Dick Conaboy  30:30  
33. I had my 33rd birthday with Geraldine old Delaney and only lunch.

Joe Van Wie  30:36  
And how would you give context to lay the lodge for people who don't know this is like, long worms.

Dick Conaboy  30:41  
Treat. My brother Conan had been there before me even though he's younger, and he called it Auschwitz. It was no tobacco. No sugar, no salt. No caffeine. It was once you got there. You were staying. Yeah. No, you you originally go in. And they tell you here sign this paper. It's a 90 day commitment. And that goes out the window. I was there a short time and I was there nine months.

Joe Van Wie  31:15  
Oh my god. Yeah. Two years. Yep. And you were the

Dick Conaboy  31:21  
tie to dinner every night. The women dress up every night. But you're not allowed to look. If you even look in the direction of a woman you get a slap in the hand. It looks Victorian recovery. Yes.

Joe Van Wie  31:35  
My cousin is still down there. T Martin.

Dick Conaboy  31:38  
I love tea. Tea was a major influence on my life. In fact, he just had a birthday. He didn't. Yeah,

Joe Van Wie  31:45  
he was yeah, he was just here. He got to see Persia we spent the afternoon. Oh, great. Talking about old gangsters of the 60s and 70s great grimy history. It was awesome. But yeah, that was really enjoyable. And they still have a pretty well polished program down there that's highly effective. Perfect.

Dick Conaboy  32:07  
They do and it's more professionally oriented. To get you back to living some sort of a normal life. Which is the the success of programs like serenity lodge here. Serenity lodge here teaches you how to live. And live sober. Yeah, but teaches you how to live first. They get you a job, they

Joe Van Wie  32:45  
get you through the steps you have to you.

Dick Conaboy  32:48  
And the same thing. At Aleena. Lodge, you learned to live and learn to live sober. And

Joe Van Wie  32:58  
I think that's the hardest part for the first year of recovery, especially males, identifying a career that they can be proud of once you can be a year to three years sober. And there's something to be said, to be proud about what it is you do to make a living. That's distinct. I mean, that's what we're just bred to do in our country. Are you going? Are you what your career is? Right

Dick Conaboy  33:25  
here. My dad said to me, I'm not we're number of times before he died. I'm really proud of you. That made my life because I was so afraid that I had alienated my dad so far with my usage, that it could never come back. And in fact, was just the opposite. For the last 30 plus years of my life. My dad has been my best friend until he passed away. And as I said, I

Joe Van Wie  34:02  
wasn't too long ago.

Dick Conaboy  34:04  
He died three years ago, three years ago. And in fact, the day the day he died, who was your

Joe Van Wie  34:12  
dad dick? He was appointed by JFK, wasn't he?

Dick Conaboy  34:15  
Well, he was originally appointed by JFK. And then Bobby Kennedy, who was the attorney general and was the same age as my father said my father was too young to be a federal judge. So then he had to wait until Carter came around and then Carter finally appointed him.

Joe Van Wie  34:32  
That's some big names. That's a spotlight and Scranton, you know, a really politicals town. Was that a big spotlight to live under even though

Dick Conaboy  34:41  
it was incredible. I have you word Humphrey was in my house. I have met all of the Kennedy brothers, John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy. I gave Robert Kennedy the flag when they dedicated the friendlies to Kennedy School and Southside was the first First, John F. Kennedy school after Kennedy's assassination. It was the first one in the country. Yeah. And I gave Bob Kennedy the flag at that. I do have a picture that is there. Oh, yeah. Yeah, we, my life was almost a fairy tale life. Which is why it's so hard to explain how I became a drug addict and an alcoholic. And why I often say there is no explanation. I've I was predetermined to be a drug addict and an alcoholic from the first time I picked up my first drink. It was a seven ounce bottle of Stegmaier. My grandfather Hartness. House, my mother's father. He was a coal miner. And he used to keep seven ounce steaks in his basement. And at nine years old, I took one of those I thought This is unreal. It's relief. It was like all of a sudden, I was six foot eight, rippling with muscles and, and just feeling good.

Joe Van Wie  36:10  
Yeah. Yeah, I don't I can't identify what people can't remember the first time they got fucked up. And I think there is there is something to be explained there. And they call it attunement. And I've been reading about it this Gabor Ma Tei wrote a huge study on it. A two men happens in the first two years of a woman's pregnancy and infant dealing with the infant and it's an emotional bond before someone has language. And if you have too much cortisol, like firing up and what it can do, so it's not abuse, it's not trauma, these connections can be severed, the probability of you having an addiction just went up exponentially doesn't mean you will be it goes up. Couple that with some kind of emotional trauma between the ages of zero and eight. The probability you just start checking these lists. Now when you meet alcohol. It's like wow, I finally feel like myself. It's what I should feel.

Dick Conaboy  37:13  
And I did there was all sorts of goofy trauma. I had a steel hole fall on my head and split my head, metal in the backyard. Whatever, just all sorts of

Joe Van Wie  37:31  
No, but it's real. If you put that like on a slide and start to really microscope, okay, let's what's the biological factor here? What's this isn't? Let's take away the mystery. I finally accepted out of fatal illness, I want to get better. What can really cause this that I can ruin everything that's worthwhile in life because I want alcohol to work. And I asked this for myself. And you're competing with primal parts of your brain that things have happened before I could even think or feel like I was a sovereign person. Now I need alcohol and cocaine and I'm smoking pot. It's a medication to release dopamine that my brain naturally can't do on its own to soothe me when I feel upset. And it's so powerful. Your brain thinks it's doing the right thing. Like how can you give this up? You're gonna hurt yourself you quit drinking, it's not gonna go well.

Dick Conaboy  38:25  
I remember being in law school and knowing that I was doing exactly the wrong thing and in law school was when my cocaine use really took off. Yeah. And and probably helped at first. It did. gave me this enlightenment and energy to go to the library. But then I forgot to go to classes for forever and and how to wash it down with Jack Daniels. expensive, very expensive.

Joe Van Wie  38:56  
And so how did Law School lead up that were we at Villanova?

Dick Conaboy  39:00  
I wouldn't know I was at the Weidner law school. It was Delaware law school at the time in and it's called Weidner now and they throw me out. That had a bit. They took me back foolishly. And I did it again. And so they didn't have to throw me out. The second time I walked away, it was just, I couldn't read anymore. The words are moving in the book and my hands shook so much, and how are you going to tell your dad a while I didn't. And we were we used to travel together like a like nomads. And the whole family would go down to the shore. And we were at the shore this particular June, we're in stone harbor and I'm drinking since like Thursday and I wake up and it's Saturday morning and everybody Getting all dressed up and everything. The hell's going on. And my wife said to me surprise, your father found out today's Delaware law school's graduation. We're all going to see you graduate. I hadn't been in law school for 18 months at that point. Oh my. Yeah. So it was a little embarrassing. So I ran away what else to do with them. I ran away and went back to Scranton. And then there's a whole long story I ended up back down the shore and I was one of my first real attempts at getting sober i i went 18 months without a drink or a drug. And then that school foolishly took me back. And within two weeks, I was drinking again.

Joe Van Wie  40:47  
Well, thank God you didn't get through law school.

Dick Conaboy  40:49  
Yeah. I'm very grateful I did. Well, the legacy

Joe Van Wie  40:52  
you left at Clearbrook is touch so many people you couldn't even remember all their names, but the people who faces it's prolific. It's prolific guy that it's knowing people like you is made it possible for me not to lie to myself when I'm alone. When I was still suffering and addiction, because I know how you stayed sober. It says a lot and I live in

Dick Conaboy  41:17  
very fortunate I'm I'm all joking aside I've been I've been incredibly fortunate man. I four of my five children have had cancer. Michelle had the day my father died Michelle. My daughter Michelle was having her cancer removed from her coccyx bone, they actually removed her coccyx bone. Richard is a survivor Michelle is a survivor. Patricia and Megan passed away with their My angels. They take care of me on a daily basis. I still consider myself one of the luckiest human beings live because I have three surviving children who are the light of my life. Suzanne is a lawyer. Incredible enough she went to the University of Pennsylvania and Ivy Leaguer, and then went to temple law school after being a nurse on the oncology ward where Richard's life was saved. She was a nurse there for a couple years and then went to law school. Michelle is a singer and a piano player extraordinaire and teaches music, which I love. It's amazing. Just an amazing, amazing young lady. And Richard is my best friend, Richard I 29 and I are like inseparable. So I'm a very lucky human being.

Joe Van Wie  42:52  
I love you. And I'm glad you came here today. I think that's a great place to end deck because I don't know I'm overwhelmed by your presence. And when you speak because you always touched my heart. You've always said kind words when we lost people to cancer in our family. I knew it was sincere from a really endearing place.

Dick Conaboy  43:13  
Well, I love you and you've always been a great friend. And I don't have a lot of friends. I have a lot of acquaintances, ton of acquaintances, but not a lot of friends. And I value them very dearly. And you're one of them.

Joe Van Wie  43:30  
I was reminded this week that I'm still on the board at the spirit

Dick Conaboy  43:33  
of hope. Yes, you are.

Joe Van Wie  43:36  
And I'm very excited to go next week with my wife and child. I'm gonna put a link onto this podcast if people want to get involved in northeast cancer, society and the spirit of hope or Cancer Society. You get involved from the links below. Deck. Thanks for coming today.

Dick Conaboy  43:57  
Thank you, Joe. I appreciate it. Take care.

Joe Van Wie  44:07  
I'd like to thank you for listening to another episode of all better. Find us on all better.fm or listen to us on Apple podcasts. Spotify, Google podcasts, Stitcher, I Heart Radio, and Alexa. Special thanks to our producer John Edwards, an engineering company 570. Drone. Please like or subscribe to us on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. And if you're not on social media, you're awesome. Looking forward to seeing you again. And remember, just because you're sober doesn't mean you're right.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

INTRO
the beginning
fast social work
the end
Loss
Back to work
Sober 35 years
Alina Lodge
Trauma
Cancer