In Part One of this three-episode series, we speak with Roy DiNicola about one of the most difficult times in his life.  It was during this time that Roy learned about the importance of community, and the need to let go of those things we cannot control.  

In the spring of 2008, Roy and Holly DiNicola had been happily married for 14 years and were raising their three young boys in Hopkinton, MA, just outside of Boston.  When Holly received a cancer diagnosis, their community rallied around them and stepped in with kindnesses, large and small.  

As Roy and Holly became overnight experts on the range of treatment options for Holly’s metastatic breast cancer, their community sprang into action:  cooking meals, shuttling the boys to school and sports practices, managing home renovations, and sending positive thoughts and prayers.  In order to share updates on Holly’s progress, Roy created an online journal, calling it “The Fight of the Irish.”  It also became a place for Roy to express the love and admiration he felt for his wife’s courage and dogged determination.  

Holly’s initial prognosis was good.  After just over a year of surgeries, treatments, and medications, Holly persevered.  In July 2009, she was declared cancer free and back to living her life at full speed.  Roy shut down the online journal.

Two years later, in November 2011, Holly developed a cough that she just couldn’t shake and her speech became impaired.  The cancer was back.  It had metastasized to her brain, lungs, and bones.  Over the next 3 ½ years, Holly fought valiantly.  In October 2014, having exhausted all available FDA approved and experimental drug trials, Holly made the difficult decision to forgo further medical treatment.  On February 10, 2015, with family by her side, Holly passed away.  

Several months later on the occasion of spreading Holly’s ashes in Ossipee Lake in New Hampshire, Roy sent one last post, poignantly writing that “In dying, she showed me how to live.”  

This is a heartfelt and beautiful conversation; we are beyond grateful to Roy for sharing with us.  We know you will feel the same.

Episode Links and Resources

Project Just Because

American Cancer Society – Breast Cancer Early Detection and Diagnosis

Mayo Clinic – Breast Cancer – Patient Information

Sloan Kettering – Breast Cancer – Patient Information

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