On Joe, Husband & Father
It started with a cough. Joe Quinn, my husband, had a cough the summer of 2006. It didn't really slow him down. It did grow persistent enough that he went to a doctor friend to get it checked out. He was treated for reflux but the cough didn't improve. Within weeks, our family received devastating news. My boyfriend for life and father to our two children had Stage IV lung cancer. He was thirty-seven years old.
Joe Quinn was a mountain man at heart. He was born and raised near Marion, NC. Lucky for me, he came east for law school. That's where we met. Joe was an amazing man; he had a dry wit and was wickedly smart, he was very humble and practical. He didn't require much in his life besides his family and he was an incredible gift-giver and conversationalist because he really paid attention to the people around him. Joe enjoyed ice cream, his mom's cooking, ebay, his farm with his chickens and goats, real estate, and most importantly, our two children, Sam and Lillie. He was an incredible daddy and husband.
We immediately started seeing doctors and gathering information about lung cancer. We went to Duke, UNC, and even MD Anderson in Texas. We so hoped to find help. What we found was that no one really knew how to help us. We were offered basically the same treatment everywhere, with little hope. We decided to treat at home. Joe received unbelievable care along the way. We met so many special people during his illness. He was a trooper. Joe never complained about one single thing during his three months of treatment.
The reason that my family and I participate in Free To Breathe every year goes back to something that my daughter, Lillie, said when she was seven. We talked about ways that we could remember Joe. We knew that he would want us to do something for other people in his memory. That's just the kind of guy that he was. I picked up the newspaper one day and saw an article about the Raleigh 5K. I had been looking for something that was lung-cancer specific because we were saddened to find that so little was known about this disease. When I mentioned the race to the kids at breakfast that day, Lillie immediately spoke up: "Mommy, we have to do that, so not one more little girl loses her daddy to lung cancer." That was it, we were in, and so were most of our family and friends.
November 3rd will not be an easy day for me and my children. While we are so happy that lung cancer treatment has advanced and that there are survivors out there, we can't help wondering why Joe wasn't one of them. Over the years, the kids have verbalized this, asking why their daddy wasn't there wearing a green survivor shirt. I can't answer that question. What I can do is remain committed to helping the Lung Cancer Initiative continue working hard so that other little girls and boys don’t lose her daddies to lung cancer.
Joe Quinn lost his fight on November 20, 2006, just three months after his diagnosis. Before that I lost a grandfather to lung cancer, and this year I've lost my uncle Kenneth as well. My dad's cousin has been recently diagnosed and is undergoing treatment now. This disease isn't going anywhere without our help. My family and I hope to see you at the race in November.