I am a student in Mathematics. There is a field I'm interested in (possibly enough to make it my main research area) which is not studied in my city. I've read a lecture notes on this topic a few months ago and sent the author a list of typos/inaccuracies I'd found. He responded in a positive way. When I was looking him up I found out he is terminally ill which, besides being extremely tragic, prevented me from asking for his guidance.
Since then I brought him up in a conversation a few times and people told me that it is very important for someone with terminal illness to know they are appreciated. I am thinking about requesting some help with my study of the field from him. However, I believe, the author was a great professor and mathematician so he probably has a lot still going on and I shouldn't bother him. Thus, my first question is: is it okay to ask him for help in this situation?.
If the answer is yes, what should I ask of him?. For example, would it be appropriate to inquire if he knows a colleague who could potentially become my adviser? Or perhaps I can ask about current research? I already used the opportunity to ask for some literature in the first letter.
To state it more clearly, is there a favour/question I can ask that is
- Appropriate for the level of contact we had;
- Easy for him to do and hopefully would make him feel appreciated;
- Would be helpful for my own studies/career?
The last (and least) issue: in his email he thanked me for the list of typos and said that because of illness it would take him some time to implement the changes. It's been two months and the text is still in the first version. Should I offer assistance with this?