Jumping for Pat McDonagh in 2017

Pat McDonagh, of Quincy, with his granddaughters

UPDATED: Pat McDonagh was the toughest man I ever knew. Doctors gave him months to live with a very advanced lung cancer. The man stretched it more than two years. He simply wouldn’t relent. The aggressive radiation treatments and experimental medications were brutally tough on his body, but no match for Pat’s resolve. They didn’t shake him, not even in the end.

Pat is survived by his loving wife Mary, his six children, and 10 grandchildren.


Pat McDonagh, 72, has been battling lung cancer for the past 10 months.

He was diagnosed in early January 2016 with stage 4 non-small cell adenocarcenoma, with neck lymph node and spine metastases. Treatment began with targeted radiation to shrink a large tumor very close to his spinal cord.

After completing this initial radiation treatment, Pat began chemotherapy with the hope of shrinking other tumors in his lung and neck lymph nodes. After several weeks of chemotherapy, the cancer continued to grow and a decision was made to discontinue that treatment.

At this point, Pat’s oncologist suggested he try immunotherapy with the drug nivolumab, which worked great for a few months.

In mid-July, Pat began experiencing some severe side effects. He was admitted to inpatient care at Mass General Hospital (MGH). During his stay, he underwent multiple scans and was visited by multiple specialists surprised to discover that he had developed diabetes insipidus as a side effect from the immunotherapy. Doctors ceased treatment immediately before symptoms worsened.

To address the still growing large tumors in his neck lymph nodes, his doctors administered radition therapy directly. Pat completed two rounds of high-dose radiation in October. He’s currently on break from all treatments until January, when doctors formulate next steps.