BRIDGEWATER — Last year, Bridgewater couple Richie and Lindsey McQuade found out they were both suffering from cancer just months apart.
The news was devastating, and they had just moved into their new home with their three children — 7-year-old Julia, 4-year-old Tommy and 2-year-old Jameson.
Richie was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, which has a 40% survival rate, while Lindsey was diagnosed with stage 3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer which affects the lymph nodes and has a 96% survival rate.
With the help of friends, family and their community, the couple kept their heads up.
But about five months ago, the family found out that Richie’s cancer had advanced further than doctors had realized. He had planned to undergo a surgery that might give him more time, but his healthcare team decided the risks outweighed the benefits.
“He fought so hard,” his niece and close confidante Heather Demita said. “He would have literally done anything to get better. But he never really was the same after that.”
Richie continued chemotherapy to give him as much time as possible. But on the morning of Oct. 31, he finally lost his battle with cancer.
While Richie’s family is devastated, there are some lights in the dark for them.
Lindsey has finished her treatment and her cancer is in remission.
And even though Richie was suffering, Demita said he still found something to be happy about. She said he couldn’t have been more grateful for the support the family received through their GoFundMe, through donated meals and groceries, and for all the kind words.
“Every single day when he was able to communicate and talk, he mentioned how much love and support that they’ve received,” Demita said. “There was so many people that have never met them a day in their life that dropped off groceries and came and knocked on their door.”
So far, the family’s GoFundMe has raised over $52,000, though they are still collecting donations.
Demita said the money has gone a long way toward supporting the family, not just by helping with medical bills, but helping them keep up with their mortgage, paying for daycare for their children and paying for healthcare for Tommy who has his own health issues.
“The messages, their praying and their kindness — it made things just a little bit brighter for Richie to know that the family was supported, because that was his biggest thing was he was worried for the kids and Lindsey,” Demita said.
“But the community outreach in the town of Bridgewater, in Brockton and surrounding areas is like no other.”
Richie’s death has rocked the McQuade family, but there are a few messages they want to send out to the public.
Firstly, Demita said, she hopes Richie’s story will remind others how important early detection of cancer is.
“If you feel sick, say something. Go to the doctor,” she said. “It’s so important, and it really, really, really makes a difference.”
Secondly, Demita said she is working on setting up an organization to help children who have lost parents, especially since Richie himself lost his parents to cancer at a young age.
But mostly, Demita wants people to remember how much Richie loved his family and the lengths he would go to take care of others.
“On the West Bridgewater [Facebook] page, people were talking about him, telling stories about him coming to their house and fixing their heat in the middle of the winter and trying not to accept any money,” she said.
“That’s who he was. If you needed something, Richie was there, no ifs, ands or buts about it.”
Demita wants to make sure the community knows how grateful Richie was and how thankful the McQuade family is for all the ways the community has supported their family. She said it’s a reminder of how many good people there are in the world.
“I just find it so important that every single person knows how much they appreciate it —the kids appreciate it, just everybody in our family,” she said.
If you’d like to help the McQuade family, you can donate to their GoFundMe here.
Enterprise staff writer Susannah Sudborough can be reached by email at [email protected] You can follow her on Twitter at @k_sudborough. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to The Enterprise today.
This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Bridgewater McQuade family: Dad dies of cancer, mom in remission