I'd get rid of the comma in the first sentence. Remember that a series of two does not get a comma, no matter how long each item is. We only use commas when there are three items or more.
It would be like putting a comma in your phrase "family or friends" - a series of two inside little items inside a series of two big items.
I'm also wonder whether your remark about developing an incurable illness works here, but it depends on the context. Does David have a vivid imagination? Is he a hypocondraic? Is the godforsaken town wracked with inclurable illnesses?
Student or Learner