Douglas Reilly is a software developer, and a brave and exceptional man. I first had the pleasure of working with him when he submitted his Coming out as a Cancer Survivor article for the Simple-Talk website. In this article, he detailed his experiences as a software developer who had decided to be open and honest about his condition in the workplace. He offered advice to those who found themselves in a similar position, including the moving assertion that you should “make sure you’re not indispensable“. The article has been the most popular we ever published on Simple-Talk and has provided help and inspiration to many people.
I got to meet Doug in March 06, at the TechEd conference in Boston. Although the treatment for his disease was clearly taking its toll, he threw himself into the event with considerable energy. He invited me to the Addison-Wesley party, and afterwards I attended his Birds-of-a-feather session, “Geeks with cancer and other serious diseases”. Doug encouraged the group to discuss their experiences in dealing with their disease both on a personal level, and in regard to their work life. Although each person approached their disease in their own way, they were all inspired by Doug’s desire to keep going. Not to meekly accept a doctor’s prognosis but to become an expert in his disease and seek out ways of fighting it wherever they could.
At one point Doug quoted Isaac Asimov who, when asked what he would do if told he only had 6 months to live replied:
At that stage, Doug was a developer facing an uncertain future, but who loved developing software and wanted to do more of it – albeit with the strong recognition that he could no longer be the indispensable, “hero” type.
Sadly, it looks like things aren’t going well for Doug right now. Doug, when he can, and his wife Jean when he can’t, are providing daily updates for friends and family on Doug’s Bike Blog. Lance Armstrong was one of Doug’s heroes and he has encouraged people who are moved to offer support, to donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
If you knew Doug or have been affected by his work on Simple-Talk, and would like to leave a message for him, please do so at the end of this blog, or on his article, or send me an email.
When the time comes, I’d like to prepare some sort of memorial book for him.