Journey of Hope: Day 17

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Miles to Date: 6,020 // States Visited: 23

After a two-minute visit to the beach for a quick photo of the Atlantic Ocean, I left Ogunquit, ME @ 6:30 a.m., and headed two hours south to Holliston, MA, and the home of Kim Balkus. There I received an enthusiastic welcome, from Kim, her family, other warriors, caregivers, advocates, plus Dr. Nabeel Bardeesy, from Mass General Hospital, Boston, and his son. We then honored the memory of two great warriors; Kim’s mom and my daughter. Looking at pictures of the two of them together, brought joy and heartache. Bittersweet.

I then continued on to my eighth town of Hope; this time in RI. There I met with Jen Bianco, a Warrior. Jen lives in the area with her husband and eight-year-old twins. Upon viewing my itinerary, and seeing that I planned to visit Hope, Jen reached out to me. I’m so glad she did. She shared her story, and I offered a few tips on how to get connected more with the cholangiocarcinoma community. As part of our conversation, I asked Jen what it meant to live in a town named Hope. She said that she never thought much about it before her diagnosis. Now, however, she has a different perspective. Today, tomorrow, and the future are all very important; especially when it comes to being present in the moment.

Upon my departure from RI, I headed another couple of hours to the home of Deb Kilmer, in Carmel, NY. There, I met Deb, her parents, and her son. Upon arrival, I was greeted at the garage door at her home, which was filled with cholangiocarcinoma-themed artwork, done by her students at school. It blew me away! Deb and Sarah were close friends, and I’m happy to report that Deb has been NED (no evidence of disease) for seven years. That’s awesome! Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Deb’s parents for taking time out of their weekend to be there today. It means a lot; from one parent to another!

Although a long day, it was another deeply rewarding one. The bond that members of the cholangiocarcinoma community has is amazing. It helps to bring hope to so many. No one should ever have to fight this alone. There are many willing to help in this regard, and it is greatly appreciated.

What an amazing week this has been. Only 9,000 more miles to go!!!

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