Friends and Family,

On the North Shore of the island of Oahu, in the town of Laie, Genevieve's grandfather bought a chunk of land back when he was a young man. I'm sure that a few eyebrows were raised when he paid $2,000 for a sand lot in the middle of nowhere. But her grandfather, "Pop," was a man with hope, and he pursued his vision regardless of what other people thought. After WWII he moved a Red Cross infirmary shack onto the property, and then converted it into a home on this isolated beach.

Gradually others discovered that this was one of the best swimming beaches on the island. Later catamarans, kayaks and wind surfers showed up, along with a few surfers. Over time it started looking like Pop's hopes were well-founded. This place was Paradise.

When they were little girls, Genevieve and her sisters used to visit her grandparents at what the local Hawaiian family members still call the "country house." On these visits, their mother would take them on five-mile beach walks to the Point at the end of the next beach, near Kahuku.

This is a beautiful beach with blue and aqua marine water, a gentle surf, and lots of sand. At the Point there is a massive rock that has been there for many thousands of years. When the girls got to the Point they would race to be the first one to make contact with that touchstone. Year after year they came back to the islands, and the daily beach walk to touch the rock became tradition.

By the time I came onto the scene 19 years ago, Genevieve's grandparents had long since passed away, and so the beach house had become a shared family property. Genevieve introduced me to this family home, and to those wonderful early morning beach walks. It wasn't long before the walk, and touching the rock, became part of my tradition too.

Often when we get to the Point and touch the rock (she still races to beat me to it!), we stop to reflect on what a gift this place is. The gratitude and appreciation that the entire family have shown for this family resource (especially since the house was rebuilt) comes up so often that it has become almost a meditation.

Has someone ever asked you to stop and take a moment to think about the most beautiful, serene place in the world that you know? When I am asked that question this place is where I go, and the walks on the beach are an important part of it.

That's what made it so difficult last September, when the cancer had spread to my bones. The pain was too severe to walk for more than a couple of blocks, so each morning I waved goodbye and watched Genevieve disappear down the beach. I wondered if I would ever be able to take that beautiful walk and touch the rock again.

I wondered if this would be one of the hardest of many goodbyes that I would be facing over the coming months. I had started on the "wonder drug" Tarceva several months earlier, but it hadn't touched the bone pain. Even though the cancer wasn't growing any more, the bone pain left me low on hope. Regardless of the scan results, my body was telling me that this was only a stop-gap measure before things got worse.

Not long after that trip, I started radiation for my hips. Over the course of just a few weeks the pain in my hips disappeared, and my spirits started lifting again. However, just before I went in for my final appointment with the radiologist, I tore a disc in my back. It again left me unable to walk for more than a few blocks due to a new pain. It was originally misdiagnosed as arthritis, which sounded permanent to me. Still, I had just enough hope to follow doctor's orders and start physical therapy.

Gradually I started getting some relief. Two months ago I told my therapist that I had a goal. I wanted to walk five miles on the beach and be able to return to the Point again in April. "No problem," she said. "Just keep doing your exercises every day."

Talk about motivation! I kept up those exercises, and now I am back to my regular gym and stair-climbing routine again. I was NOT going to let a few exercises stand between me and the Point! Finally, the disc healed enough so that I am pain free.

All of this leads up to our April trip to Laie. The first morning we woke up to the sounds of roosters at sunrise, then jumped into our swim suits and tee-shirts and set out on the beach. Frequently checking in with myself about how my hips and my back were holding up, my excitement grew as we took in each new part of the beach scenery.

When we finally reached out and touched the rock, tears welled up in my eyes. Genevieve's eyes seemed to have a little extra sparkle too. We took in what this long beach walk meant. I was not only surviving, I was thriving! Doors were opening again!

We pulled together for a long, heartfelt hug. Touching this rock here with Genevieve meant the world to me.

This journey reinforced what I already know, but seem to need to keep re-learning anyway. Pop didn't seem to need any reminders, but I certainly do. It was pretty simple:

Never give up hope.

And you wondered if there was going to be a Point to this story.