Man decides to spend his final days on the Mighty Mississippi

Published 7:08 pm Thursday, July 5, 2018

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. Twenty-one 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.

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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.”

About Courtland Wells

Courtland Wells is a staff photographer at The Vicksburg Post. He is a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. and graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi with a bachelor’s degree in Photojournalism. Following graduation, he started at The Vicksburg Post in the fall of 2016. Courtland has won numerous awards through the Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors and the Mississippi Press Association. His work has also been featured in the New York Times and Washington Post as well as other national publications. Courtland is a member of the Vicksburg Young Professionals.

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