I had a lot of fun a few weeks ago at the Cancer Gala at the Greenbrier Hotel. What a special place.

We spent time learning and talking with community leaders, faculty, staff and a notable celebrity, with others sharing their powerful testimonies.

Kathy Mattea, country and western superstar, gave testimony through her story and song.

She came home and was a hit of the weekend, talking about her father, who died of colon cancer. Kathy described the love she has for him and her experiences with him as he was dying.

Kathy pointed out that he embraced cancer and death. While she couldn’t change his disease, Kathy noted that by being with him, she let him know how much he was valued.She eased his pain by planning with him and paid attention to each detail of him that she knew would end soon.

She also talked about a friend of hers that she reunited with after reading on social media that her friend had a recurrence of cancer, and had slipped into a coma. 

Kathy reached out to her friend’s husband and asked how she could help.

She was shocked that her friend woke up.

Her friend wrote of being on a boat on a big body of water in her coma.

According to Kathy, her friend said she could hear every prayer, every positive thought and decided to come back to be with those she loved. Despite returning, her friend finally succumbed to cancer, and told Kathy that one of the things that carried her through was Kathy’s song, "Love at the Five and Dime."

Kathy sang it for her friend in her hospital room and for us at the Cancer Gala. It is spectacular – it's about hope, commitment and faith.

Kathy is being called back to help. In fact, one of her newer songs is called "Calling Me Home."

I spent a lot of time at the Greenbrier walking around the property taking in the spectacular beauty and serenity of our state.

The Greenbrier valley in the morning with clouds rising on the majestic mountains, dew on the grass - stunning beauty and stunning serenity.

These mountains and the valley where I walked have seen many travellers like me.

The timelessness of the surroundings – mountains, trees, sky, animals and the movement of seasons - connected me to our state in a different way than I have felt in many years.

In addition to the greatness of our state’s natural beauty, I celebrated with many people that I have come to love, respect and trust.

Like the Appalachian spring that embraced me this weekend, it is time for us to reach our full beauty and potential.