‘We All Run the Risk of Getting Hit By the Cancer Dart’

Randy Pausch, a prominent computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon, yesterday gave his farewell lecture. He is 46 years old, and he is dying from pancreatic cancer. Read this remarkable article, by Mark Roth, about a remarkable man. I will give you a dollar if you make it to the end without crying. My condolences and best wishes to Pausch’s family and friends, especially his three young kids.



Bill Hicks, also pancreatic cancer, died age 32 in 1994.

I'm sorry for the profanity, but such things are just F***ed up.

John Graham-Cumming

You don't owe me a dollar.



truly sad.
I lost a close uncle to lymphoma earlier this year.
And he was always active and healthy. Cancer is very unfair.
My cousin is doing this to raise funds:


You owe me a dollar.

Sad story and a truly amazing man, society will miss his contributions and his family will miss their father but the article was not that emotional.

Stephen J. Dubner


Yes, but I won $2 by betting someone else that one of the first 5 commenters would say that I owed him a dollar.


I created a derivative product out of the dollar I would be owed and sold it on the open market, but then I teared up.

Matt W.

Would that we all could face death with that sort of dignity, making videos for our children, embarassing our wives at our jobs, laying foundations for others futures. He's like the guy in Stranger than Fiction: "the sort of man you want to keep around"

Matthew Prins

You owe me a dollar too, I'm afraid, and I'm relatively weepy for an XY sort. That said, might have cried had the middle third of the article not been there (or been vastly shortened); at least for me, the list of accomplishments took away from the taut emotionalism of the rest of the article.

Still, very sad and (sorry to disagree, Dr. Pausch) unfair.


It was such an upbeat article, and Dr. Pausch has such a good attitude, that despite its sad nature, you owe me a dollar.

But tell you what - donate the dollar to the Pausch family education fund. In fact, is there one that we could donate to?


It's the scariest thing about having kids (I have a 6 yr old): the thought that something could snatch you away and leave your child with that void which would be so hard to fill. It's not that I fear my child would forget me. It's disruption of the ideal childhood. When my son was 4 or so he realized that his mother and I would die some day. He was weepy for months--every time mortality was mentioned in conversation he would either get angry or sad. That was the first time in my life I feared my own death.


Anyone have a link to a transcript or recording of the lecture? I suspect Dr. Pausch's own words are more touching and more meaningful than the article (not that the article was bad).

Freakonomics was the first book I bought and read while I was being treated because of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma a year and a half ago. It helped grow my interest in Economics and I'm starting college next Tuesday, healthy and happy.

I won't read Mr. Pausch's lecture; I've been hit by the cancer dart already and it sucks.

Rita: Lovely Meter Maid

I didn't cry, but I came close to it when he talked about his kids. It sounds like Dr. Pausch is an extremely positive person. Extremely. I am not this way, nor would I be if (when)? diagnosed with terminal cancer. I'd be crying, angry and extremely depressing to be around, even more than usual. The article is interesting - but what I'd most want to know is how Dr. Pausch views death. Does he think about it - I mean *really* think about it, now that he is so close to it - or is he more focused on life? Does he have any feelings or beliefs about a possible afterlife? My guess is that he doesn't want to be overly drugged when the end comes, but neither will he want to be suffering too much. He seems like a very strong man, both mentally and even physically, despite the cancer.
Since we all will die, I'm always curious about people who know they will die soon, especially people of strenth and intelligence, like Dr. Pausch. How do they see death - and after death, if there is such a thing as the spirit surviving death? Those are my questions, prompted, most recently, by this article, but they are always with me.



Here is a link to some of the lecture on video ...


You owe me a dollar but you can give it to charity, cause I'm a cold SOB.


Drat. I thought I was going to make it, but the last sentence got me.


You don't owe me a dollar. Could the people who claim they made it through without crying tell us whether or not they have kids? I have two boys, 4 and 5, and I can't even think of this happening to any kids without crying.


No tears. No kids of my own. One incurable (and eventually fatal) disease.

I figure that the cost of mailing you a self-addressed, stamped envelope so that you can get my dollars to me is 41 cents per stamp and three cents per envelope, which leaves me with a net income of only 12 cents, which isn't worth the time and energy to get an envelope and address it. You can keep the change.


I have only one lung. Cancer got the other one. I'm fortunate (4 years now), thanks to early detection. I got cancer after my children were grown; they helped my wife to sustain me. I shall never forget my daughter crying, leaning on my chest after my surgery - I patted her back and comforted her. That's what Randy Pausch is doing. May his children feel his love.


You owe me a buck. Not that I'm a cold hard insensitive fellow. Quite the contrary. I've got two kids and I've already thought through most of the issues of death. If I ever contract a terminal disease, I intend to approach it just like Dr. Pausch. Or like the fellow in the book Tuesdays with Morrie (which did make me cry).

We all eventually die, there's no reason to sit around moping, especially if you know your time is limited. A person with limited time should be out celebrating life rather than sitting around waiting to die. Of course, any of us could die suddenly in an accident, so we should all be busy enjoying life and living it to the fullest.