please see my video on you tube as well
The death of Kevin “Racks” Roster, Jr.
Written by: Kevin Roster
It is with considerable regret that I am writing this letter to inform you that I have chosen to peacefully end my fight with sarcoma from a position of strength via the use of medical aid in dying tomorrow (Friday), July 26, 2019. At this point, it is my belief, and the belief of my doctors, that the disease which is overrunning my body will be shortly be taking me either way. I take this decision not at all lightly and would like to have been able to do more. I missed out on many items from my bucket list, but had to take them where I could get them, as my health went downhill more quickly than I could have anticipated. At this point, the disease is holding me hostage, and I am taking back control, as I have tried to at every crucial step of my journey.
I currently suffer from an almost constant need to be on oxygen, fatigue which keeps me in bed 13-14 hours a day, coughing fits, delirium, tumor pain in my back lungs and groin requiring morphine liquid, and about 40 pills daily, shortness of breath and difficulty eating amongst many, many others.
As many of you know, I have moved to the state of California to facilitate my bucket list dream of living in this great state. The proximity to Las Vegas allowed me to live out my dreams of going to summer camp and chasing that elusive World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet awarded to the tournament winner. While I may not have brought home the win, I got to meet my heroes and had several deep runs, including being among the chip leaders of the WSOP “Monster Stack” deep into day 3. Make no mistake, while my body was cut in half and riddled with cancer, I fully expected to win every tournament I entered, in spite of the fact I was told that sitting 13+ hours a day for the series was going to be a medical impossibility. I trained my body to sit again at the Parx Casino in Bensalem, PA.
The laws of California also lined up with my beliefs and desires to exit this world on my own terms in a condition, that while debilitating, still allowed me to pursue my demise on my own terms, and still healthy enough to continue my work spreading awareness for the need for biopsies and pathological confirmation of any suspicious masses found anywhere on the anatomy of the body.
While my intentions were to win the cards just didn’t cooperate, but something far, far greater occurred as I received considerable attention for my cause. I was able to reach millions of people and far exceed the expectations that I had for myself a street kid from Queens who grew up in group homes. I would like to thank the press and the poker community for helping to spread my message of awareness far and wide, beyond what I ever thought possible.
Somewhat lost in the mix of the sarcoma awareness tour, as it was eventually coined, was my belief that every American should have access to end-of-life options. I would like to emphasize that despite considerable odds, my pain was able to be controlled by skilled work by the members of my hospice team, whom I wish I could publicly credit and that I do not believe that the decision I made is necessarily the decision that should be made by anyone else. I do believe that anyone and everyone else should have the right to consider all options when facing a terminal diagnosis. Unfortunately, this is not the case for 80% of the states in this country.
Since my story has gone public, countless people have reached out to me via social media and in person to tell me their cancer and sarcoma stories. Your victories, defeats and battles proved to me that putting myself out there was the correct decision and I want you all to keep living laughing and fighting.
I would like to at this time take a moment to thank Sean Crowley, Corinne Carey, Erika Bieranowski, Kaitlyn Bivin, Chris Meacham, and Alyson Lynch from Compassionandchoices.org for finding me and helping me with the first media story on this journey, as well as being the starting point of my research, back when I was diagnosed in December 2017 regarding end-of-life options. I also have to thank Nicholas Pugliese from WHYY radio in Philadelphia, Jorge Ortiz from USA Today, Michael McGough from the Sacramento Bee, Lilia Luciano from ABC-TV10 in Sacramento, Blake Foeman from ESPN’s Outside the Lines, ESPN World Series of Poker commentator Lon McEachern, “Papi” Joe Ingram from the Poker Life Podcast, Daniel Negreanu & Adam Schwartz from the Dat Poker Podcast, as well as Aleeyah Jadavji from PokerNews, Remko Rinkema from Poker Central, and Jon Sofen from CardsChat.
I also need to thank individually 2012 World Series of Poker champion Greg Merson for free rolling me in the main event of the World Series of Poker & Phil Helmuth for putting me into a couple events as well. Last, but not least, Justin Kuraitis from the Stones Gambling Hall, who invited me to be on the stream and gave me a home away from home to distract me from the worse of my days.
I also have to reserve a special thank you for Chris “Jesus” Ferguson for the amazing couple of hours he spent with me and the profound effect his views and take on game theory had on my ability to lead a successful life in poker, business, and even in the treatment of my disease.
I also need to provide a thank you to the skilled surgical team at the Hospital of Pennsylvania, and specifically orthopedic oncologist Kristy Weber, who successfully performed my hindquarter amputation, returning to me my ability to return effectively to the world.
The most special thanks is reserved for my wife and best friend, Jennifer, and my son, Lucas, for their support and understanding and also for my caregiver, who wishes to remain anonymous. Without them and their support, none of this would have ever been possible.
The biggest takeaway from all of this I hope will be that, with hard work and dedication, that anything is possible and that you are able to manifest your dreams, if you should so choose. Anger and hate are not productive and never will be. On that note, I leave you and this world for whatever may come next, if anything.
To anyone that I forgot to mention, I am sorry. To those who have made mistakes in my treatment, I forgive you.
I do ask that any media outlets understand our need for privacy at this time. My family will not accommodate any requests for interviews or comments at this time.
In lieu of flowers or direct donations I ask you please support compassionandchoices.org and the Sarcoma Foundation of America through my personal dedication page located at: curesarcoma.org/kevin-racks-roster/.
Thank you ALL for being a part of my journey,
Kevin “Racks” Roster
Sarcoma Awareness/Medical Aid-in-Dying advocate
Semi-Professional Poker Player