They say when you or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, you find out who your true friends are. I am fortunate to say that they are so many wonderful people that stepped up for Kevin and myself in big and in small ways; and so many of them continue to step up and support the Elixir Fund. One in particular is the inspiration behind TEAM KEVIN running the TCS New York City Marathon.
Less than a year before Kevin was diagnosed with cancer, I moved to Long Beach where he was living and started a new job. Shelly, one of my new coworkers, quickly became one of my new friends. Our friendship was further solidified when we landed the best gig ever walking the beaches of Southern CA mapping stormwater outfalls. It may not sound glamorous, but our office was the beach. Even Shelly, who doesn’t like sand, was happy to get the
As it turned out, Shelly had worked at Disneyland years before with Keith, a close friend of Kevin’s. Once you meet one McQ you are usually adopted by the rest of us, and it was no different with Keith. Sadly, Keith had passed away years before Shelly and I met, so it was nice to meet someone who knew of him. Eventually I would come to see it less as a random act and more divine intervention.
When I received the call at work that Kevin had been to the doctor and it appeared to be something serious, I got up from my desk and did not return for two weeks; nor was I expected to make up for lost time. I would like to say thank you to my bosses and colleagues at SCCWRP who allowed me to do that, and supported me throughout my tenure there. That was a huge gift.
As Kevin went through treatment, Shelly and our friend Lila became part of our dream team. They were great fun to get together with when Kevin was out of the hospital, and they were the perfect visitors when he was in the hospital. It didn’t matter how far they had to travel to the hospital, they didn’t expect to stay long and didn’t mind being turned away if necessary (which it never was). They checked any fears or discomfort at the door and greeted us warmly. They were not excessively positive nor were they crepe hangers. It was always a welcome visit.
When Kevin was told there was nothing more that traditional medicine could offer, he went to AZ to seek an alternative treatment. After a few weeks, I received a call from the couple that he was staying with saying it was time for Kevin to come home. He had another brain tumor and was having difficulty walking. They would get him on a plane back to CA and I could pick him up at the other end. I had to get permission to meet him at the gate with a wheelchair. He was very weak. It was not a transport I could do on my own, but for some reason we did not think it warranted an ambulance.
As part of my work with Elixir I am often telling people that as difficult as it is, they need to ask for help. Well those who can’t do, teach. It was never easy for me to ask for help, but for what would be Kevin’s final trip home, I could not do it on my own. I do not remember how the whole even played out, but I do know that I was always sure that I could ask Shelly for help.
Once again, she was part of the dream team. We were able to leave a car at the curb, get Kevin from the gate and she was able to help us get him in the car and then into his house. He was weak, and having a hard time, but Shelly checked her fears at the door, greeted him warmly and stayed the perfect amount of time. It was one of the more difficult things I had to do and I was so grateful that I knew that I could count on Shelly for help.
Shelly has been an ardent supporter of the Elixir Fund before there was an Elixir Fund. In the last few years she has started running and participating in triathlons. You can read more about her reasons for running here. I mentioned that I might apply to the NY Marathon for some charity spots. Shelly said that she wanted to do 1 marathon and that if I applied she would do it. I, getting swept up in the moment (I’d like to say I said it in appreciation for all that Shelly has done for Elixir, but I think that is a stretch) said I would do it as well. And here we are.
So far this has been another one of our great adventures (even as we are training 3,000 miles apart) and once again, thanks to a true friend, I have accomplished more than I ever thought I could. Thank you Shelly and thank you Keith.