“You are about to read a love story, a story of triumph, a story of drive, passion, compassion and about a courageous fight in the face of adversity. I came to know Dr. Desiree Pardi as someone who was always chasing her dream; she did not just pursue the dream in order to catch up; she caught up with her dream, outsmarted that dream and pursued another, and another, and another. Chasing Life is the perfect title for this labor of love, a portrait of an incredible young woman pursuing her passion, surpassing every expectation and then moving forward again until she could go no further because of a devastating and aggressive disease. But anyone who met Desiree casually would never have known any of that. Her cheerful countenance, her enthusiasm, her bright smile never betrayed the battle she was fighting or her drive to satisfy her curiosity, create new scientific knowledge or take exceptional care of her patients.” - Excerpted from the foreword by Suzanne Rose, MD, MSEd, Senior Vice Dean for Medical Education, Perelman School of Medicine, The University of Pennsylvania
Desiree met Robert on her very first day of college.
They were an attractive, enviable New York couple – Robert climbing the ranks in Investment Banking and Desiree excelling in the MD/PhD program at Mount Sinai New York. Yet, shortly after Robert was recruited by one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, their world was shaken to its very core. Desiree, having just turned 31, was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer.
Desiree immediately made a decision that would not only define how she handled her own illness but would set her on the path to practice and teach palliative care. She asked Robert to take charge of her medical care, which invested him with enormous responsibility and caused him to pull back from his own promising career. He graciously took on the role of being her surrogate, living the disease that was not his, but living it as if it were so he could carry out her wishes. This decision, while bringing them even closer and taking their partnership to a level neither could ever have imagined when they met on Desiree’s first day at Stony Brook University, also slowly shifted Robert’s role from husband and investment banker to full-time caregiver during her 11-year journey with cancer.
This is a story of the evolution of one person and the awakening of another. Chasing Life is a story of love, joy, resilience, and extraordinary achievements against all odds. It’s about a couple uniting to rise above complacency and adversity to live a joyful life congruent with beliefs, passions, and values. It highlights the need to live life in the present moment. It's about learning to savor life while we are alive.