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Islanders rush to help Capt. Rob Modys

By Staff | May 13, 2015

Capt. Rob Modys at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Sanibel. The fishing guide and popular radio host is suffering from cancer. PHOTO PROVIDED

The voice of southwest Florida fishing has a connection to Sanibel. Capt. Rob Modys is a parishioner at the Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Sanibel, played bagpipes in 2009 for the church’s new pastor, the Rev. Ellen Sloan. Rob’s father, Robert Modys, had served as senior churchwarden of Saint Michael’s at the time of his death in 2000.

Modys is Capt. Rob of the popular Reel Talk radio program broadcasting on Saturdays. The charter captain operating out of Fishtail Marina in Ft. Myers Beach is suffering from health issues placing his career on hold.

Rob is the son of Bettie Modys, well loved and long time volunteer of Noah’s Ark, (a thrift shop run by the church members) and a longtime parishioner of Saint Michael’s. Thrifters held a May 12 fundraiser benefit, with proceeds assisting the Modys family.

The Islander/Island Reporter asked Capt. Rob to share thoughts on illness, fishing and Sanibel.

Islander: How did life change learning you had cancer? What becomes less important?

Capt. Rob: Perspective. I have spent a lot of time helping others via fund raisers and support for cancer, heart disease and other maladies. You really don’t get how that person feels (the one you are trying to help) until you have a problem of your own. When I got the diagnosis of cancer, it was an eye opening moment. I just couldn’t believe it at first. I’ve led a pretty “clean” life with a good bit of control over vices. I smoke a few cigars a month, like a martini each evening and I try to watch what I eat. I also go to the dermatologist twice a year for skin checks and I just had a recent colonoscopy. And then, Pow!

So now instead of being on the outside looking in, I am now on the inside. I can honestly say that no one really gets what it’s like to be told “you have cancer” until it actually happens. It really sucks.

The less important stuff would be some of the things you see on FB or on the news. You suddenly realize that living is very important and you start making that bucket list you’ve always heard about. Even if the prognosis is good, you still make the list. Family is VERY important. You began paying much more attention to them and you want to spend more time with them if possible. You find out who your friends REALLY are. I don’t mean that in a mean way. There are some that just move to the head of the list to help you get through all the trials and tribulations of cancer. I have a ton of friends. I knew they were out there but I didn’t know I had touched that many people.

Islander: What’s the support like in Sanibel?

Capt. Rob: Sanibel is a very close knit place. It’s a small town with lots of wonderful people. I wish I could spend more time there. I’ll never forget our first trips out to the island back in the mid ’80s. It looked like what you would imagine every small beach town should look like.

I also run my charters out of Fort Myers Beach. Believe it or not, it’s very much like Sanibel. People have a hard time understanding that and they look at me like I’m crazy when I say it, but it’s true. The Beach also has an amazing group of people that would help you out of a jam. I’ve spent the last six or seven years doing just that on FMB and now it has come full circle. We are so lucky.

Islander: What do you tell others facing the same situation? Any suggestions for family members/friends watching someone they love endure cancer?

Capt. Rob: Honestly, I try not to give fellow cancer victims a lot of input. As I’ve learned, every situation is different and so is every person. Some work through this without a lot of fanfair and others don’t. I can relay my outlook and advice, but it may not be the same for others. It’s very personal and it is sometimes hard to talk about it. If someone ask, I am more than willing to do what I can to help and if they don’t, I’ll leave it alone.

To family and friendsbe there. A lot. It’s so important. Even if it’s hard to face and even if cancer scares the hell out of you it’s important to be there. I love talking to my family and friends. It has brought all of us so much closer together.

Islander: Any good fishing stories in or around Sanibel or Captiva? A funny story from a caller on your show?

Capt. Rob: My favorite fishing stories usually involve sharks. I’m surprised how many people that live here full time don’t realize how many different species of sharks we have. They live in our waters and they’ve been here all along. I tell everyone that I meet on the boat that I don’t swim in the Gulf. I have this really nice pool and I can see my feet on the bottom and I really like that. They still don’t believe meAnd then I take them fishing, they hook into something gigantic, they spend about 45 minutes doing their best getting it to the boat and up pops an eight to ten foot hammerhead or bull shark. You can see on their faces that even though the evidence is right there in front of them, they still are having a hard time processing the information. I had one lady turn around to me on the boat and say, “I think I’m sticking to the swimming pool from here on out.” We both had a pretty good laugh!

The following is something I wrote to try to help my family and friends (who are not charter fishing captains) understand what goes on with this amazing group of guys.

Fishermen are an amazing bunch. I’m so lucky to be a part of this group. My daughter, Rebecca, said that this place (the islands and Fish-Tale Marina) are full of angels. She’s almost right. Fishermen ARE angels. Most people think of us as a rowdy, hard drinking bunch with 3 day beards and earrings and tattoos. Well, yes.but we are one of the most caring group of guys that you’ll ever hope to meet. We come together over and over to help whenever needed for both large and small causes. They all came together for me and JoNell. We are eternally grateful.