Iowa man with leukemia holds ‘wake’ for himself

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - A longtime Dubuque real estate agent has held a “wake” for himself, following news that he has weeks or even days to live because of a terminal illness.

Don Lochner, 66, invited dozens of friends to a gathering Tuesday night at a local Italian restaurant, the Telegraph Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1iLVye9 ). Lochner said despite the grim party theme, his priorities are laughing and spending time with people.

“I’ve never died before. I don’t know what the rules are,” he said. “I don’t think there are any.”

Lochner is a Navy veteran who was deployed during the Vietnam War. He was diagnosed with leukemia in January, which he believes is linked to Agent Orange exposure. He has been receiving treatment at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs hospital.

Lochner said he’s upset about his diagnosis, “but what good does that do you? I’d rather go with the flow, and skip being mad.”

Friends said they’re not surprised by Lochner’s positive attitude.

“That’s pretty much Don,” said Vance DeLire, who met Lochner as the two bought and sold properties.

Linda Budde was supportive of her childhood friend’s approach to the gathering Tuesday.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “The doctors haven’t given him long to live, but he’s going to enjoy life for as long as he can. He wants to celebrate with his friends now, instead of his friends celebrating his life after he’s gone.”

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Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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