Cathy McCoy is sporting a new look lately, a shaved head, but the sunny smile is still the same.

A few days ago, the ladies from Salon Blanco descended on a home on Bruce Court, armed with the tools of their trade. They were there to shave colleague Cathy McCoy’s head. What could have been a traumatic experience, turned into a party.

“They just trooped in here and plopped down on the couch and made it fun,” said Cathy, emotion choking her words. “They are just so wonderful.”

Cathy has serious bone cancer that has metastasized to her lungs. Instead of withdrawing from life, Cathy is spending her time between aggressive chemotherapy treatments celebrating its gifts. There are too many to count — her husband Jim, her friends, her co-workers, her dogs Molly and Mr. Magoo, her general health (minus the stupid cancer and broken hip that foretold the disease), the view, the weather, her doctors, the internet and Dion’s fried chicken.

So far she’s undergone one chemo course and the next is set to begin soon. She hopes to be sufficiently recovered to attend a fundraiser being held in her honor on Sunday, May 4 at the San Pablo Church. Expect it to be well attended because Cathy is one of those Marathonians completely in love with the town and the people in it. And they with her.

“Cathy is a wonderful person. Really out going. The kind of person that would do anything for anybody,” said neighbor Sharon Sohrweide.

Cathy said her friends have absolutely had her back during this health crisis. Sohrweide is the trusted steward of the pooches in the family’s absence during treatment in Miami. Father Luis Rivera has stopped by to pray, as has her friend Deborah McConaughey, reverend of the episcopal church.

“She keeps joking that she will convert me. She says things like, ‘We have candles now,’” Cathy said, laughing.

Other friends like Julie Joyce and Sylvie Spiering drop in with treats or just a spot of friendly conversation.

“I am so blessed,” she said. “My husband, Jim, has been so wonderful. He’s never left my side. He’s my rock.”

Cathy moved to Marathon 11 years ago from Long Island. She’s been cutting hair all that time, plus volunteering at school until her youngest, Joe Simone, graduated from Marathon High School. She’s a faithful member of the San Pablo Women’s Club and the Marathon chapter of Business and Professional Women and a supporter of Relay for Life. In the past, she’s sold Pampered Chef products and helped raise funds for just about anything. To summarize, she’s bought enough raffle tickets to boggle the average mind.

“But Cathy is a family person,” Sohrweide said. “She has three kids that she loves dearly. She’s giving to everyone, but her family is really important to her.”

While she battles to regain her health, Cathy is keeping a positive psyche.

“I really believe in the power of prayer. I feel like I’m floating on a cloud of it,” she said. “And I spend time thinking about my six-month-old grandson Eliott. He’s my ‘happy place.’ I remember the things we’ve done together and imagine the things that we will do.

“I’ve got cancer, but it doesn’t have me,” she said, swaddled in a blanket and sitting on her front porch overlooking the canal, dogs at her feet. “I’m such an optimist. I truly believe with all of my heart, I am going to beat this thing.”


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