By Karen R. Smith

It is never easy to lose a business associate and harder still to lose a trusted friend. Over the past 14 years, Patricia Steiner was both to me. On a daily basis, whether it’s about our circulation database or next weekend’s barbecue, I miss her expertise, her counsel and her wit.

As the bagpipes played at her memorial service, I realized that the best thing I could possibly do to remember Pat is to share her own words with you here. She wrote this for her cancer survivors’ reunion, which was held in conjunction with a “Race for the Cure” in Phoenix last November.

“One of the most important things I learned going through breast cancer was that we have to be an advocate for our own health care. When I was originally diagnosed in March of 1999, it was six months after a mammogram where I was told the lump was “just a fibroid.” After it got so large that it was painful, I went to a surgeon who did a biopsy and he couldn’t understand why I had waited so long! Within one week I was undergoing chemotherapy and yes—lost my hair, which was very traumatic. I had a bi-lateral mastectomy, just to be on the safe side and then another round of chemo.

All was well until February 2003, when I felt a lump above my implant. Again, it was cancer, but it was the same tumor as before. It had been so large they didn’t get it all the first time. And that was very good news—it hadn’t spread! More surgery, more chemo (yes, I lost my hair again) and radiation. Months afterward, I was told by my plastic surgeon that a local recurrence does not affect your survival rate. Sure would have been nice if someone had told me that earlier!

A crucial thing I learned during these last five years is how vital it is to keep a positive attitude. I truly believe it helped me, along with my faith in God, to get through all of it and come out the other side a better person. Facing my greatest fear head-on (my mother died of breast cancer at age 50) and realizing I can do it, has given me such freedom, in all aspects of my life. I also never have ‘bad hair’ days.”

Please, please be sure that you take her words to heart. Become your own health care advocate, get regular mammograms and get more than one opinion regarding any abnormality. We’d all like to believe the best case scenario, take the benign diagnosis and go home. Go a step further. Because your life may depend upon it.

If you are blessed with good health, I hope you will get involved at some level in the search for a cure. Whether you write a check or run in the next 5K in your area, if we all think globally and act locally—a favorite expression of Pat’s, by the way—we can eradicate this scourge once and for all.

A particular gift those of us in the industry can offer is aid to those in need of life’s most precious resource, pure drinking water. We will be featuring the continued activities of our friends and associates throughout the industry as they work to bring water to victims of the tsunami and to prevent the diseases all-too-ready to emerge in its wake. Water For People, the WQA, the Red Cross and a host of other organizations are keeping post-disaster illness and deaths to a minimum while helping to rebuild those shattered countries.

We’re working to make things the best they can be here at WC&P and Pat left big shoes to fill. In the best sense of her memory, we’re using the opportunity to revamp procedures, rethink processes and streamline our systems to serve you better than ever before. You’ll begin to see those changes in this issue, on our website and in our Buyer’s Guide 2005-2006. We will be traveling more than ever before in 2005 and look forward to meeting our readers at trade shows across the country and around the world. First and foremost, of course, will be WQA/Aquatech 2005 in Las Vegas. Seeing many aspects from the world of water all together, under one roof, presents more opportunities than any of us have experienced in one place before. I will be raising a glass to the occasion in Pat’s memory and hope you will be there to join me when I do.


Comments are closed.