I only met Pat twice, but I feel like I’ve known him forever. We shared a passion for our native state of Wisconsin. Last time the Badger football team got into the Rose Bowl, I invited Pat and Pattie to California so we could all go to the game together. They did and, despite losing to Stanford, we shared a memorable experience.
We also shared a disease.
Going to the game required a lot of walking from the parade to the car, from the car to the stadium. Pat was struggling, but he wasn’t complaining. He was smiling the whole time. He didn’t just tell us to feel good and keep smiling. He lived it.
Pat had many loves in his life. First, of course was his darling wife Pattie, whom he adored. She was with him through the best and worst of his battle with Multiple Myeloma. No one should ever go through this alone. Pattie made sure he didn’t. Right there you know he lived a full life. Their life together was as full as any loving couple can share.
Pat loved his dog, Finnegan. He frequently wrote about the pleasures of walking Finnegan around the nearby beachfront. He loved coaching. He loved his doctors, his nurses, and anyone who helped him in his fight. He loved the Badgers and the Packers. This was not a small infatuation. Pat knew everything about their coaches, their recruiting class and their strategies. He reveled in their success. I don’t think it was a mere coincidence this past year that the Badger basketball team to made it to the NCAA finals. I think Pat willed it to happen. The team’s success allowed him to put his focus on Myeloma aside for a while and lifted his spirits immensely.
Clearly, he loved all of us. His daily postings on the general topic of Myeloma covered the latest advances in treating this aweful disease, general health advice to help fortify bodies against the fight, heroic stories of others who were afflicted with the disease (including mine) and his own courageous trials.Pat posted every day for years. Seven days a week. No matter how good or bad he was feeling. There were times when he admitted to being barely able to lift the lid on his laptop, but he still got out his daily post. He knew we would worry about him if he missed a day.
Pat could be very technical or broadly general – whatever was needed to tell the story. He loved helping anyone who was touched by Multiple Myeloma. He traveled extensively to medical conferences, pharmaceutical company events and support groups. He appeared on numerous panels, seemingly indefatigable, never turning down an opportunity to give service no matter how rotten he felt.
When people told Pat to slow down, he laughed and waived it off. He wrote books- important books with critical advice on how to understand this disease and manage the ceaseless treatments. Then he gave his books away or donated the proceeds to the fight- the fight we all share, every single one of us whether we are afflicted or know someone who is, the must-finish fight against Myeloma.
Spirited to the end, Pat’s final post was ironically headlined “I’m Not Dead Yet.” In it he spoke of his failing health. Then he showed a remarkable photo of the view of a river from the window of his hospital bed. In this picturesque image he saw a silver lining.
Pat fought hard against the disease. Guess what? He won! At the time of his passing, he was in remission. He was disease free. Ironic, isn’t it? I think he would have liked that. He would have written about it.
I don’t know what Pat’s last words were, but if he had been able choose them, I think they would have been something on the order of “don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.” Of course, his final words on the printed page were “Feel good and keep smiling.”
Whenever I think of Pat Killingsworth, that is exactly what I’ll do.