Written by: Pauly Larkin
Editor’s note: We get a lot of emails from customers about their experiences with Orvis products, and we appreciate all the feedback, both good and bad. But every now and then, a story really touches us and reminds us that this sport that we love is often life-changing in ways we don’t expect. Here’s one such story.
Earlier this summer, I stood in the McCloud River, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the fresh snowmelt clashing against the rocks. I had made it home, to a place I feared I would never see again.
My name is Pauly. I am twenty-five years old, and for many reasons, I should not be alive to tell my story. But I am, and that is something I will never take for granted.
When I was twelve years old, I was given a gift: Cancer. That may seem like a strange way to view something so traumatic, but truthfully, I wouldn’t still be alive if I saw it that way. This unwanted growth in my body ingrained in me a newfound appreciation for life and its beauty, an appreciation of the little things–especially for those trips to the water. Needless to say, I fought and won that battle, and I never stopped looking for the next river.
Then, a year ago, just when I thought I was in the clear, my left lung collapsed. As a result of the cancer treatments years ago, my body was failing, and I spent months in a hospital bed. I could only imagine the sounds of cold water clashing against my waders, the feel of the smooth cork handle of my rod in my hand.
After a series of ups and downs, I landed myself on the list for a lung transplant, and a new scar was etched onto my body. June 6 marked the one year anniversary of the transplant, and I am pleased to say that I have no plans to stop chasing my dreams about trout water. During my stay in the hospital, my brother and a friend made a promise to me. When I got out, we would travel to a place I feared I would never see again–the McCloud River in Northern California. I am pleased to say that that plan is now a memory I cherish.
On this trip, I used a variety of Orvis products because I knew that they would not fail me. This trip was a milestone for me, and I want you to know that your gear was with me every step of the way.
Pauly Larkin lives in Northern California.