Robert’s story: He died in 2002, but Robert is still remembered with love and affection. Friend and former business partner Chuck Lucko turned the tragedy of Robert’s death into a story of hope for others facing cancer.
Who would have thought the friendship of Robert and Chuck, both born and raised in Temple, Texas would have been the catalyst for funding world class cancer research at Scott and White Cancer Research Institute. After graduating and moving away from Temple, Robert returned and married his high school sweetheart, Cindy Duncan. Robert joined All County Surveying, Chuck’s company, in 1994. It was only a short time when he began to experience stomach pain. Doctors found several large tumors and removed them with surgery. After a second surgery, the diagnosis came back of liposarcoma.
Liposarcoma is an aggressive cancer of the fat tissue that had no known cure in 1994. Today, there is still not an effective therapy. For the next eight years, Robert and his family bravely battled his cancer with the only method available, surgeries lasting up to 10 hours to remove the cancerous tumors.
Cindy and Robert had four beautiful children who Robert loved unconditionally. He pulled red wagons, coached t-ball, soccer or whatever they were playing. He never stopped being an involved parent. “Responsibility was big with him,” Lucko said. “He was going to support his family. He literally lived as if nothing was wrong.”
Bruce Matous, another long time friend, relates that Robert “didn’t want his children to know how much he hurt. It was important to him to know that they made him happy.” For the most part, Robert held his head high. “He’d smile and say, ‘I’m buying green bananas’ to mean he was planning on being around for a few more days.” Matous did not realize how little time he had left with his friend.
Robert passed away in 2002 while his children were at school. Even though he was sick for nearly a decade, he managed to care for his friend Chuck Lucko was also struggled with a cancer diagnosis beginning in 1996.
“I got my diagnosis in 1996, had surgery and radiation in ’97 and from then until April 1998 was unable to work. Robert was the one who took care of everything. He took care of me.” Unfortunately, as Chuck’s health improved, Robert’s declined. “A precious bond was formed and after he died, I was encouraged to create a memorial.”
In 2007, the time had come. Chuck Lucko began to fulfill his vision of a memorial foundation to help cancer victims through research for cures. Millie Love, Robert’s mom said, “I am so glad things are being done in my son’s honor. I hope a lot of good things come of it.”
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