A chance meeting at Portland International Raceway turns into an epic love story for PATTI FURROW and PHIL SEDGWICK – with a lot of twists and turns
Patti Furrow remembers her “first date” with Phil Sedgwick all too well. Her mind and heart were racing…somewhere around 160 miles per hour. “I was at Portland International Raceway photographing racecars when Phil walked up and asked if he could shoot next to me,” Patti recalled. “He was such a gentleman about it and so good looking…how could I have said no?”
Phil recalled the chemistry and their first of many battles with adversity, on the trek to get “the shot.” “We hiked through blackberry bushes to get to the back straightaway of the track where the cars were going 160 miles per hour less than a foot away,” noted Phil. “There was electricity in the air and it had nothing to do with the cars.”
It’s safe to say that Patti’s love for life — and her passion for fast cars – won Phil over that day.
“The racing was absolutely thrilling and I let my enthusiasm go…out loud,” Patti recounted. “I apologized to him because I was embarrassed at how passionate I felt and that it came out so naturally with this total stranger. It was an awkward moment, until Phil said ‘No, you’re awesome.’”
Fast-forward >>>12 years+ later.
The electricity between Patti and Phil still courses through their relationship to this day. So too, however, are the prickly thorns of adversity that often come with a life lived.
Recent tumult in the world of Patti and Phil:
- The economy swallowed up both of their jobs
- A cancer diagnosis for Patti that would test her beyond belief
- An ovarian cancer diagnosis for Phil’s mom that would knock them down again but also unite forces against a common enemy. (“We made deal that if I beat mine, she will beat hers,” Patti said. “Nothing like the buddy system right?)
- Chemotherapy and the continual struggles with multiple side effects
- Piles of medical and household bills that far outweighs the money to contend with them
Optimism in the face of Adversity
“I am an eternal optimist, Thank you, God,” Patti said recently. “While the cancer is very difficult, it has in no way deterred me from trying to live my life to the fullest and living as long as possible for my daughter (Gracee, age 6). It has served to remind me that life is RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW. Cancer reminds you that there are not set guarantees.”
Despite no guarantees, the prognosis for Patti’s colon cancer is good and her mother-in-law Phyllis is also holding her own. Both women are, Phil said, “pull up those bootstraps” gals.
If you ask Patti, it’s the power of her faith, a strong belief in positive thinking, the drive to remain alive to care for Gracee, and the love of her “soul mate” that collectively sustain her. “There is no other choice but to persevere and win in the end!”
That optimism and drive is in fact what made Phil take stock in his love for Patti and convinced him on Valentine’s Day 2010 that the marching forward through adversity would include a pit stop at the altar on November 12, 2010.
“Watching Patti be so positive about everything is what has been so amazing,” Phil said recently. “Knowing she is personally committed to fighting this is so life affirming. My mom is also battling cancer and she too has that same feisty can do spirit.”
Phil added that Patti’s can-do spirit has been present before and during her battle with cancer.
“Patti had committed to working with our church at Roosevelt High School in St. Johns the morning we found out about the cancer,” he remembered. “I thought we would probably cancel everything and deal with the news…but that is not Patti. I was amazed that she kept her promises and we went to help at the school, painting and cleaning all day Saturday. Her love blows me away.”
Patti was quick to counter, however, the platitude of “love is all you need” to battle the insidious foe that is colon cancer.
“It’s such a mean and ugly disease” Patti said recently. While she is a very positive and passionate person, she recounted just a few of the things she has suffered through.
Some weeks it is throwing up every night. Sometimes it is the nosebleeds or having to run to the bathroom every five minutes. The nights of insomnia sap her already tested energy reserves. Two times so far, she has had to put chemo on hold because of such low white blood cells that a case of the flu would have sent her to the hospital.
“Losing your hair in handfuls is such a shock!” says Patti. “It left me crying for days. Phil was great and I never have to wear a wig around him, but it still feels embarrassing. It really hit me like tidal wave.”
12 years and counting
So how come it took 12 years to tie the knot, you may be asking? Patti didn’t exactly say, ‘what took you so long?’ when Phil finally asked her to marry him, but she does remember the moment she fell in love with him.
“When he looked at me with his beautiful brown eyes and said ‘I am so enamored with your fair skin and red hair’ I prayed on the spot, ‘Dear God, Please let me marry this man!’ Then, fast forward 12+ years later, he said, ‘I have to admit, I really blew it 12+ years ago…I should have married you then.’ And voila…here we are!”
Patti and Phil will be united on November 12, 2010. To lend your talents or financial support, contact Nadia Ly – Wish Upon a Wedding chapter president at email@example.com.