By: Courtland Wells
If you were told you had three months to live, what would you do? Kelly Phillips, a native of New Jersey, knew the answer almost immediately — live his final days on the Mississippi River.
Phillips was diagnosed with sinus cancer more than two years ago in early 2016. Following radiation therapy and chemotherapy, he developed an ulcer in his stomach that exploded. 21 days later he woke up in hospice and was told he had three or four months to live. He then made a decision.
“Well, if I’m going to die, I’m not going to just sit around in my house or a hospital,” Phillips said.
He employed his brother to find him a houseboat and decided he was going to live his last days on the Mississippi River.
March 15, 2017, he flew to Madison, Wisconsin, and the next day he launched his houseboat into the river.
Two years later and he’s still kicking and floating the river with his canine sidekick, Sapphire.
Phillips says “It’s about what people have done for me along the trip,” that has restored his faith in humanity. He recalled a time where Sapphire had disappeared and then found her way into an office and when they were reunited, the office had learned of his story and decided to buy him a new generator and cellphone.
He says that the best part about the trip so far is meeting people.
“With my last strength, I want to keep meeting people.”