Step Up to the Challenge

Why We Climb

David CooneyMy name is Laurie and this is why I climb.

I climb the stairs of the Carew Tower for three reasons - my father who died of lung cancer, my mother who died of emphysema, but primarily for my brother, Bill, who lost his six year battle with lung cancer three years ago.

Growing up with Bill was both a privilege and a challenge. We certainly had our differences, but as I grew older, I began to realize that we were two sides of the same coin. I seemed to follow in his footsteps......when he quit smoking, I quit smoking. When he quit drinking, I quit drinking. He was a lawyer, I was a paralegal. When he lost his health, I lost my husband. We called it lockstep.

Bill was very good at whatever he chose to do, but he learned to become the best husband, the best father, the best brother and lastly, the best lawyer. As long as he had the facts, he could find a solution to whatever the problem was. Cancer got in the way, but you would never have known watching him. When my husband died nine years ago, Bill got on a plane, shortly after surgery that removed one of his lungs, to be with me. From then on, we spent hours on the phone trying to understand where we were headed, what was in store, what it all meant.

Bill taught me many things, but most importantly, Bill taught me to be kind. It became his trademark as he went through each of life's bumps and God knows, he had more than his fair share of those!!!! That kindness, together with his sense of humor, was something to behold. Whenever he was around, you couldn't help but want to join in and share in the laughter that so often surrounded him. Volunteering at Children's Hospital in Seattle was something very dear and important to Bill. The children would light up when Mac appeared......he became a child again doing everything he could to help them forget about their cancer. Ironically, they ended up helping him forget his cancer.

I climb the stairs of the Carew Tower to not only raise awareness, but also to raise money. Money for research, research that will one day be the key to solving the mystery of lung cancer and its insidious reach into the lives of so many unsuspecting people. Headway is being made with gene therapy and immunotherapy, but there is allot more work to do. To quote Paul A. Marks, president emeritus of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, "The truth, uncomfortable and inconvenient as it may be, is that medical science has never faced a more inscrutable, more mutable, or more ruthless adversary. It is a unique disease. Cancer is, in a way, the body's war on itself."

Breath is life, without breath, there is no life. I climb the Carew Tower to ensure that everyone has the chance to take that breath, over and over and over again.

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