Pat Thonney died last week. She was one of the rocks of the Cancer Resource Center.
Pat was a nutritionist, and food – especially healthy food – was a recurring theme in her life. During her tenure with our groups, we saw our food offerings escalate. We began with coffee and a snack. Then we added soup, later entire meals. Somehow the food made living with cancer just a little easier. It wasn’t so much the food as the community that came with it.
Cancer is a world of uncertainty, but Pat dealt with that uncertainty with just the right balance. She knew that she had a bad disease, but she was going to live as well as she could for as long as she could. She never stopped moving forward and never stopped planning for future happiness.
I noticed that newcomers in our groups always gravitated towards Pat. They loved that she was grounded in both science and faith. To Pat, reality and hope weren’t mutually exclusive. If anything, reality and hope must co-exist to make life whole.
At Pat’s memorial service, everyone commented on her smile. It somehow entered every room before she did, and that smile lingered in every room long after she left.
That smile continues to grace us.
Published with permission of the Ithaca Journal.
Original publication date: April 21, 2012
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