Wayne Schenk; won lottery after cancer diagnosis
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Wayne Schenk, who won $1 million in the lottery shortly after finding out he had terminal cancer, died Monday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Syracuse. He was 51.
"He is in a better place now," friend Nick Pascazi told The Daily Messenger of Canandaigua. "He was starting to suffer, and we didn't want that."
On Jan. 12, Mr. Schenk won $1 million playing a $5 scratch ticket in the New York State Lottery. Five weeks earlier, he had found out that he had less than a year to live because of inoperable lung cancer.
Schenk had tried to get the lottery to give him a lump sum so he could enter a hospital that specialized in treating advanced cancer. His prize pays out in $50,000 annual installments over 20 years.
Lottery officials said they were sympathetic but could not break the rules to give him a lump sum. He had received just $34,000 of his winnings by the time of his death.
In an interview in January, Schenk said he was trying to take each day in stride.
"I haven't given up, but it's getting right down there where time is of the essence," he said. "There's only one way to go, and that's up. I've already been down."
Mr. Schenk was a lifelong smoker whose parents died of lung cancer in the 1990s. He served on a troop ship off Lebanon during a stint in the US Army from 1976 to 1980. Last year, he bought a tavern after decades of working odd jobs in construction, in the highway department, and at a ski resort.
On April 4, Mr. Schenk married his longtime partner, Joan DeClerck, who was with him when he died.
Pascazi said Mr. Schenk made plans to leave his winnings to DeClerck.