On Endings, New Beginnings and Remembering

On Thursday of this week, sometime late morning, Patti will unceremoniously stride into the cancer treatment center and will receive her next and FINAL chemo dose. This is a routine she has played out already 17 times since last November, three weeks apart. It has become, perversely, in a way, just part of her life, accepted, dutifully honored, but with measured hatred.

As we try to wiggle out from underneath the weight of her disease, all we really want now is to move on. We’d like to reacquaint ourselves with our goals and dreams before the diagnosis. We’d like to start thinking about life and to stop thinking about cancer.

It’s been extraordinary to witness Patti’s strength and endurance while she has fought this off. She has shown remarkable courage, has proven to be a fighter and she has refused to let her disease beat her up. She endures, as we have together, and we can now put this all behind us.

Plans for our next hike are materializing. Patti wants to get back on the trail as soon as possible. So, we will be out for a five-day stretch covering roughly 45 miles, subject to getting the plans in place and to change, but hopefully before Thanksgiving. The bitter-sweetness of completing the hike, coming home to family and without cancer on everyone’s mind, is not lost. We both can’t wait.

Strength must run with McCarthy women. Patti’s aunt, Eileen, had lung cancer last December. Shortly afterwards, she had most of her right lung removed. She too, decided to live life and biked her first RAGBRAI this past July. RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) is a 400 + mile, seven-day bike ride. We are immensely proud of her.

But while we embrace Eileen and Patti’s victories, and we move on to the future, we are sadly reminded that cancer, in all kinds of forms, burden hundreds of thousand of people throughout the world. Just last month I lost a friend to lung cancer after a long battle. And I’ve also been reminded by Emily Walsh, Community Outreach Director for the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance, that mesothelioma is a completely preventable cancer (caused only by asbestos exposure), and that knowing more about the disease and its risk factors truly does make a difference. It’s amazing that we still tolerate the use of asbestos in everyday use.

Did You Know Facts-improved

Emily also authored an excellent post about mesothelioma where you can learn more about this awful disease. “8 Things You Should Know About Mesothelioma.”  www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/emily/8-things-you-should-know-about-mesothelioma.htm

Back to my friend, Mike Stevens, who died last month of lung cancer, he was greatly involved with the Lung Cancer Alliance and was active in the community events and fundraisers the group sponsored locally. He often stated in total amazement and disbelief, that lung cancer kills more people than any other cancer and yet receives the least amount of government funding for research. Mike explained, too, that a lot of people associate lung cancer with cigarette smoking. However, Mike was not a smoker. Neither was Elizabeth, another dear friend we lost in 2007. It’s very possible that most of the mesothelioma patients are non-smokers, too. Lung cancer can be caused by many things, cigarette smoking just one of many. Coincidentally, November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. We feel it important to share the information and increase awareness.


11 thoughts on “On Endings, New Beginnings and Remembering

  1. 45 miles! You guys rock…….. Just went in for cancer check this past week. I am good to go for another year. I mean yearssssss!!!!!!!!! love you both with all my heart….. “RIDING ON” Eileen


    • Elena, you have been one of our biggest supporters and we both sincerely thank you. It’s all gold from here on, we’re ready and now we are able. We’ll continue writing, now about hiking, like it was all meant to be.

      You likely don’t realize how much your own work has often encouraged and inspired us. You’re very talented and I always look forward to Watercolor Wednesday and Photo Friday. READERS: you should take the time to visit Elena’s site at http://elenacaravela.wordpress.com/

      Thanks for everything, Elena.



  2. Eilen and Patti,you have shown us strength behond. just behond,,,
    God has really blessed our family, we are fighters and fun lovers, and we pick good Husbands to take good care of us and share in our happiness, This has been one heck of a year. I am so proud of both our you friends sister and neice. Great write up Lynn!!!
    Happy Trails


  3. Congratulations to Patti and Eileen; and condolences on your friend. Cancer is such an awful disease, and for every wonderful story of victory there are others that don’t end as we would hope. In that, though, thank you for sharing this information. It’s so scary to think that asbestos is still so prevalent (not to mention countless other environmental toxins) despite our better judgment. Continuing this push for awareness is crucial in bringing about change.
    But beyond that, it’s great to hear that Patti is doing so well and wrapping up her treatments. Enjoy this next leg of your hike!


    • Josh, thanks very much for your generous well-wishes.

      I remember when Patti first received her diagnosis, we went through a time when we asked “Why” and “Why me.” But only briefly. Being a nurse, Patti already knew how pervasive cancer is in our lives. I, too, began seeing it everywhere. So many families are touched, so many lives lost. And yes, it’s often for reasons caused by things we can and should avoid. Treatment for cancers are getting better as we learn more, I know. But clearly, so much more needs to be done. I agree with you that awareness is necessary. It helps pave the way for more money to be funded to research and concrete answers and therapies are produced.

      Patti and I are preparing for a hike later this week for the longest stretch, both in number of days and in total miles, we have ever done. We are both anxious to get out there. I just know it’s going to be incredible.

      Thanks for following along.



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