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American artist lives out his life's last days in Goa

American artist  lives out his life
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Panaji: Scrawny and gaunt from illness, American artist Scott Morgan wants to 'live life's every moment' to the full before succumbing to terminal...

Panaji: Scrawny and gaunt from illness, American artist Scott Morgan wants to "live life's every moment" to the full before succumbing to terminal intestinal cancer. And when that does happen - he's been told three months from now - he wants to be cremated and his ashes scattered over a popular Goa beach village. In Goa, on the final leg of his India travels, Morgan has already spent a swell night at the Casino Royale, the state's biggest offshore casino. He is about to kick off an exhibition of his paintings at a city hospital. All this as part of his promise to live life, instead of waiting for it to be snuffed out by cancer.

"It's gotta happen. You have to let it go. The most important thing to remember (by those who are afflicted with terminal cancer) is not being depressed. Live life's every moment," Morgan, who is in his 50s, told IANS. Why did he chose Goa for his final departure? "I had heard a lot about Goa and its beauty. I chose this place because it also represents freedom of several sorts," Morgan said. His ashes will be strewn on the beach village of Morjim, known as a haven for 100,000 Russian tourists who annually holiday in Goa. Morgan said he has been in Goa for the last several months, adding that it was a great place for him to live the remainder of his life with dignity. At Morgan's side is his partner Katy Allgeyer, who has been a fellow-traveller in the journey from North Carolina to Goa, helping Scott update his blog www.goingtogoa. wordpress.com, and keeping him going.

"This is no ordinary trip. On October 13, 2012, (we) learned Scott's cancer had returned, but this time it is inoperable. Within two weeks of finding out he has only a few months to live, Scott wrapped up all his affairs and began travelling, towards meeting his goal of dying with dignity, in his own way: Surrounded by peace, beauty, and comfort at a luxury resort in India," says one such poignant post on Scott and Katy's blog. Even with cancer out to get him, Morgan has set up the "Smile 2 the End" foundation aimed at introducing a new way of looking at the smallish window of life that terminally ill patients are often forced to manoeuvre, often saddled with chronic fear and depression. But even a tiny span of life, according to Scott, can offer many memorable moments: the triumph, for instance, at a roulette machine at the Casino Royale.

"The very first spin was a winner, with Scott's lucky number zero, giving us both a thrill and setting the tone for the entire evening. I don't play, but I had fun watching Scott's happy face as he stacked his chips. We were served complimentary drinks and delicious Indian appetisers, too," Allgeyer said. The Smile 2 the End foundation has now organized an exhibition of Morgan's watercolour paintings at the Manipal Hospital located on the outskirts of state capital Panaji. The paintings were drawn by Scott as he lay in his bed and sat in his wheelchair. The exhibition opened Friday.

"We are grateful to get a fighter like Scott to Goa. What happens in oncology is that we focus only on treatment and chemotherapy cycles. Quality of end-care life tends to get ignored. The way Scott has led his life is an eyeopener," Shekhar Salkar, an oncologist associated with the Manipal Hospital, told IANS.

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