Michael Pratt // collector (artwork & butterflies) & naturalist // Mark Catesby (English naturalist & artist active in colonial SC) expert // American history buff // survivor of prostate cancer (diagnosed 1999); currently surviving pancreatic cancer (diagnosed 2011) /// w/ wife Joyce Pratt // companion to Michael on world travels & in the every day // philanthropist // book & garden club member // CHOP! Cancer contestant
Michael: “We’ve been here 30 years now. We came here from Scotland by way of India. I worked all my life in a Scottish textile company. We came here in 1986 for me to run the American subsidiary. That’s how we got here, & we liked it; & this is our home now…[We’ve been married] 50 years.”
Joyce: “51 years! Our son was 50 yesterday.”
M: “We still made it, darling.
“My hesitation in getting involved in this thing…I support the basic concept of [the Survivor Series]. It demystifies & makes people see that [cancer] is quite a normal thing. But obviously when you are diagnosed with it, it’s a tremendous shock to the system. Initially, oh my God, the ‘c’ word, you know? But there’s a lot of sentimentality that gets involved. Joyce said this is about fighting cancer; one doesn’t fight cancer. One recognizes it, & learns to live with it, & to carry on life & make it normal.
“Cancer is natural. It happens. We are a very complex biological species, & the longer we live the more likely we are to develop cancer in some form or another. So the sort of things you’re doing are valuable; having people realize that they haven’t been sort of picked out, or selected personally; but it’s all part of the process of living. Some of us get away with it, & others of us get caught in it. Whether you get run over by a motorcar or fall off a cliff, sooner or later death gets you anyway — so cancer is part of living.
“I’ve been lucky to live this long with it. I’m in pretty good health. I am still subject to various forms of treatment…I think I’ve had 70 sessions of chemo. I suppose it speaks of my stamina if nothing else.
“Joyce has been fantastic, of course. She’s done everything to make sure that life is as normal as possible. She’s gone to a lot of trouble with the food that I eat. I’ve not much desire to eat, or drink wine for that matter.”
J: “Well, I haven’t exactly gone out of the way to force feed you wine!”
M: “But she does make sure to feed me with a diet of attractive & interesting food, which is also beneficial in helping keep the cancer under control, & of course she’s encouraged & badgered me to do things I didn’t necessarily want to do.
“The initial shock – ‘oh dear, I’ve got cancer’ – & then you begin to realize there are ways of managing cancer to minimize its impact, which enable you to live a fairly normal life.”
J: “& you do. You live a completely normal life, basically.”
M: “I still play an indifferent round of golf every week, & take my dog for walks.”
J: “That’s the hardest part of this business, because the dog doesn’t enjoy walking. [laughs]
“Michael is truly inspiring. I’ve never heard him complain, not once. He’s joyful…He goes about his business, & does what he’s always done: listens to his music, gives talks to clubs & strange historical societies, & does all his weird & wonderful things. That’s why I am surprised that he’s talking to you about it — because it never features in his life.
“He has this wonderful Chinese doctor — who is totally without emotion — who has been reduced to tears over Michael. We went to England, & when we returned Dr. Yang [at Bon Secours St. Francis] just threw his arms around Michael; & Michael said, ‘OH, whoa! I guess you were more worried about me than I was!’”
M: “Yes, we managed to persuade the doctor to let us off the leash [from the bi-weekly chemo cycle], & fortunately we got back safe & sound.”
J: “It was a wonderful trip! We had a wonderful time.”