Kevin Racks Roster Sarcoma Awareness Advocate & Semi Pro Poker Player Chooses Medical Aid in Dying

please see my video on you tube as well

 

The death of Kevin “Racks” Roster, Jr.

7-25-2019

Written by: Kevin Roster

 

Hello,

 

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

Loving Father

Goodbye WSOP – Sarcoma Awareness Tour ends?

So I figured this would be a good place to recap whats up with my life lately and the experiences I have had. I will not be releasing the exact financials I will say after over 7 weeks in Vegas, I made more then I spent. That in and of itself was an achievement. My health failed me at the end or I would have made it deeper and probably cashed but watching the final table today I know the truth is my health wouldn’t have held up anyway.  I showed up in Vegas mostly healthy and left on an Oxygen machine. I also got to live my dreams and I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

I did exceed my goals regarding raising awareness for Sarcoma cancer, many people helped my get there from WSOP champs to little guys that shared my posts on social media. We did it! We got on National TV a few times, got interviewed by ESPN and helped teach the world just WTF is SARCOMA. I couldn’t have done any of this on my own. Thank you to those who helped lift me up. Most of my story is out there so I am going to move on to now.

Right now I am in my final weeks for those keeping a death watch, I will not be announcing it. You will likely see some news coverage after as that is the price of being a public figure. I hope my family knows I love them and why I could not key them in on the exact day I was going. The fact is I DO NOT KNOW when I am going. I really am no longer healthy but life also isn’t so miserable that its time to push that final stack into the middle. I am short and that big blind is coming around quick but one can hope we have a Kevin Maas or too between me and it.

I do plan on continuing to play poker whether live when possible or online when not, when I cannot do these things it’ll probably be a good indicator for when its time to go. As far as the media is concerned, I am not doing anymore public appearance or articles. If something powerful enough came along that had a national audience I would consider it for its value to raising awareness.

If you were paying me considerable suitcases of money I could leave behind to my family I might consider it as well but let’s face it who am I? I doubt I will have that issue. Since I didn’t win a million I doubt the book or movie deal is in the works. lol

Tongue firmly planted in cheek,

Kevin “Racks” Roster

Sarcoma Awareness/WSOP Bucket Tour Part # 1 Las Vegas 6-13-2019

So I am going to summarize the trip here:

Getting to Vegas:The trip, we drove 8 houts down from Sacramento, it was uneventful but the scenery was something that if you are from the east coast you not have seen before. We did have a problem with my powerchair. We called Joe at get around mobility and he had a chair waiting for us and even repaired my chair free of charge. GET AROUND MOBILITY is a great cusomter orientated business in Las Vegas if you are in need of a wheel chair.

Vegas itself – Played in 7 WSOP events 1 for 7 (-$6500 )

Won $1500 in sports and $7000 in blackjack (+8500 )

Spent $1500 on hotels, another $4000 on sightseeing shows etc.

So all in all tthe trip cost about $4500 plus gas and rental and some other stuff im missing, I would say $6000 i am lighter then when I got here. Not bad overall. Had my first cash and met my poker hero Phil Helmuth. Found a sponsor for the Main Event.

My Health, some decline but I would say I am still 87% Healthy.

Overall a great time and will be back next week for the main event.

You Have Weeks to Live – The End of life Death with Dignity and Medical Aid in Dying

Well a lot has gone one since I last updated this. I realize I update on many mediums but also know some people follow on here. So here is the long and short, after several failed treatments my leg had begin to rupture from the tumor. Given that my only options were allowing the leg to rupture or have it removed I opted for the latter. Also the 20lb tumor was stealing all my nutrition. I was dangerously low and might have died from systems failure

The CT suggested I still has 6 months or more at the time. I had my entire left hindquarter amputated as a palliative procedure for relief of pain and fungation. The recovery was supposed to take 4-6  weeks figured I would have a few decent months. I was half right.

Post surgical Post recovery I was released onto hospice, Since then I have had wound problems but I have been able to play poker and so some of the things I love again. The pain is lessened, though phantom pain is the worst part. I had a CT after the surgery by 5 weeks 8 total weeks from the last 6 month estimate. i do have a couple of small wounds that are not healing and probably will not i my lifespan. So legless and leaking from holes and still dying of lung sarcoma I cannot say it was a good or bad decision. Just one that had to be made

The surgery often causes hyper progression and individuals just die faster in some cases. something called angiogenesis is where the primary tumor sends grow signals to the mets. Its widely suggested in the literature though my surgeon Dr. Weber at University of Penn disagreed. I actually brought it up many many times but I was told I wasn’t a doctor and really it didn’t change my decision since my leg was going to explode like the Macy’s day fireworks show but gorier.

Now here we are and one mass mass tripled and is located dangerously close to my heart and some other vital structures. They tell me to think of life in weeks. Think of life in weeks? As someone who always has things meticulously planned out its a hard concept to swallow but the scans don’t lie. I am now heading to California Weds to pursue my right to die in a peaceful and painless matter since the law here in NJ will not be in effect for months and I have just weeks.

For what it’s worth, I feel alright and have been enjoying life and raising awareness. I hear my downturn will be swift and I want to be ready, I believe all Americans should be able to choose to end their life peacefully if they have a terminal condition. Someone like me, who dedicated his life to never punching a clock or waking up if he didn’t have to should have to rot in pain and asphyxiate slowly and painfully? F*ck that and fuck cancer. California here I come. I hope to make one more big awareness run at WSOP this year if I can make it. So if you’ve followed this long sty tuned I still have work to do.

 

Kevin Racks