Bill Hall got the news two weeks ago – he was told he had six months to live.
“It’s been the most incredible emotional roller coaster,” Hall said Thursday, outside the Blackburn Street home of Kathy Adams. Like many others, Hall was wearing a pink shirt. He was there for Kathy, a spunky lady who has beat back breast cancer and is still undergoing chemo treatments. And while Kathy was the center of attention, and the reason why a pink fire truck was parked in front of her house, she was there for Bill.
Looking at all who had gathered, Kathy said, “I feel a bit selfish. I’m getting better and a lot of people are not.”
Family and friends hugged Kathy. She signed her name on the truck as hundreds of others have done and, naturally, plenty of pictures were taken. It was a joyous occasion with plenty of laughter and mugging for the camera.
Then Kathy spotted Bill. They didn’t say anything. They didn’t have to. They embraced. They knew each other’s stories.
“She is such an inspiration to me. I wanted to be here,” Bill said.
A Coventry firefighter, Bill is an active member of the Rhode Island Chapter of Pink Heals. He accompanied chapter president Ted Dion driving the pink fire truck over.
Bill and Kathy connected at Maddock Center on Toll Gate Road about two weeks ago. They were there for different reasons, but cancer was the common bond. When Kathy heard of Bill’s diagnosis, she told him her story. She also gave him some advice.
“‘This is your body,’” he recalls her saying. “‘You don’t let the cancer tell you.’”
She also told him no one has a timetable for your life and to fight.
It was what Bill needed.
He had had a tumor removed last spring and was encouraged by what the doctors said. The cancer hadn’t spread. They got it in time and he didn’t have any worries, or so he thought.
Then came the back pain. Initially, physicians believed it was unrelated to the cancer but unfortunately they were wrong. The cancer was in his bones.
Bill gives the name of the cancer, explaining it is rare and, in 80 percent of the cases where a tumor is removed, it doesn’t return.
On Monday, Bill was scheduled to meet with physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital. They will work out a program to battle the cancer before it spreads any further.
Bill has already implemented the most important part of the program. Kathy gave it to him. It’s the commitment to fight.
“Anything is possible, it is learning not to listen to the timetables,” he says.
Kathy, who had been listening, gave Bill a squeeze.
She says she had some of that same support.
“The Kent Breast Center, they’re beautiful people,” she said. She said they empathized with what she was going through and gave her strength.
“They treated me like gold.”
Bill is comforted by her experience. He hopes to find caregivers as supportive.
“I’ve got a lot going for me. If this cancer takes me, it’s going to be kicking and screaming.” Pausing, he adds, “I’m going to try to steal some of her [Kathy’s] strength.”
A smile comes across his face.
“I don’t have to steal it,” he says. “She’s already given it to me.”