Beyer grad, 20, dies after cancer returns

Patrick McGill, a top student at Beyer High School who had his college career sidetracked by cancer, died at home in Hughson on Wednesday. He was 20.

Friends and family will gather for a candlelight vigil today at 7 p.m. at the McGill home, 2706 Euclid Ave., Hughson. His friends will share stories and put their memories of Patrick in a scrapbook, his family said.

McGill, who had a 4.3 grade-point average at Beyer, received more than $900,000 in scholarship offers from colleges and universities. He chose Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., but was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer in April 2005, two months before his high school graduation.

His college career was delayed for a year as he underwent cancer treatment at the University of California at San Francisco Medical Center, which appeared to eliminate the cancer. He fulfilled his dream of attending Dartmouth in fall 2006. While he was home for Christmas break, an examination revealed the cancer had returned.

About two months of treatment had little effect, and he decided to stop therapy to enjoy the time he had left, said his mother, Melody McGill of Hughson. One of her memories is of her son departing for college.

"When he left, he was skipping down the hallway in the airport," his mother said. "He was just excited to move on with his life and start working on his goal of becoming a doctor."

Patrick relished his semester at Dartmouth, taking part in a bonfire, making friends and going on a weeklong canoe trip. He was on the pre-med track.

In addition to his mother, Patrick McGill is survived by his father and stepmother, Ken and Michelle Cook of Van Nuys; brother, Kristopher Cook, and sister, Raven Johnson, both of Van Nuys; and grandmothers, Edna Schreiner of Palm Springs and Gloria McGill of Hughson.

A celebration of his life will be held at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 5 at First Baptist Church in Modesto. Remembrances may be made in McGill's name to: Koret Family House, 50 Irving St., San Francisco 94122; Wish Upon a Star, P.O. Box 4000, Visalia 93278; or the Patrick McGill Renaissance Golden Eagle Award, care of Beyer High School, 1717 Sylvan Ave., Modesto 95355.