‘You’ll always be with me’

Husband speaks of loss of wife to cancer and how she still pushes him to give back

On Sept. 15, Give Local Louisville day, we shared 24 Hours of Courage on Facebook — a day highlighting the stories of courageous mothers, sons, husbands and friends who have fought or are currently fighting one of the most tragic diseases of our time — cancer.

We’re now turning these stories of courage into tales of triumph that need to be heard.

We are honored to share Denny Simonavice’s story again with you, in his own words.

My wife was my best friend. We were married 36 years. We did everything together. Everything. She was with me through my biggest, toughest times. And I was with her through all her tough times. I went to every treatment. I was at every session that she was at. I went to every doctor appointment. We were side by side. We went through this together. And I think if it wouldn’t have been for her inspiration I couldn’t have gotten there. She was stronger than I was — she always had been.

You know, there were days when she was so, so sick she couldn’t even get out of bed, but yet she was worried about me. She’d say, “Are you eating? Is everything OK? Are you taking care of yourself?” And then there were days when I felt so, so bad. I felt down, and she’d smile, and that smile — oh my gosh — that smile could just light up a room.

My wife was a patient of Norton for a few years, and one of the things that she always said was she wanted to give back to Norton after she got well, and she wanted to help out because the people there who took care of her were so kind, giving and caring. Well, one day, while we were in the hospital and she was going through some of her treatments, she saw this sign on the wall that said “Bike to Beat Cancer.” She was a weekend bike rider, and she loved to do that. She said, “We’re gonna ride.” I wasn’t an avid rider by any means at that time. I said, “Sure, I’ll ride. What would you like to do?” And she said, “Well, we’ll just get involved and we’ll get some donations and help.” I said, “Well great. There are a couple different rides. I’ll do the 30-mile ride. I think that’ll be fun.” She goes, “No, I want you to ride 100 miles.” I’m like, “What?!” She said, “Yeah, I’d love for you to ride 100 miles.” 100 miles to me is like going from here to the moon. I never envisioned myself even riding 20 miles, honestly, much less 100! And I said, “Well, I will do that for you. I would love to do that for you.”

The doctors told her there wasn’t a lot they could do, and that they were stealing time from her. They wanted her to go home so she could be with family. She looked at me one day and she said, “Den, I just need to know one thing. I just need to know one thing.” I said, “What is it?” She said, “Will I ever be able to ride my bike again?” Holy cow. That got me. “Will I ever be able to ride again?” I said, “No, I’m sorry to say you won’t, but I’ll always ride with you and for you. You’ll be with me in spirit. You’ll always be with me, every ride I take.”

And to this day, every ride I do — whether it’s a training ride, a fun ride or the Bike to Beat Cancer — she’s right there, pushing me on, taking me through every pedal, up every hill, down every hill, through the finish. It’s amazing.

Kiss breast cancer goodbye!

Norton Healthcare Foundation is taking part in the Revlon Love Is On Million Dollar Challenge. Help us kiss cancer goodbye by raising funds to support the Norton Cancer Institute Breast Health Program. Every gift goes toward prevention, research and support programs in our community. Make a donation at LetsKissAndTell.com, then share a kiss with someone you love and tell the world using #KissAndTell. Ask the ones you love to join you in kissing breast cancer goodbye.

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