We had the good fortune of connecting with Cynthia Long-Pace and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cynthia, what do you want people to remember about you?
Kindness and Compassion. Imagine a world where there was more of each of these. I want to be remembered as a woman who exuded kindness and compassion. I want people to think of me and know that my life was spent caring about those who needed it the most. I chose to be an animal advocate and rescuer because they need a voice. They need someone to show them kindness and compassion when most of the world shows them hatred and complacency.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My head is spinning. Where do I start? What do I say? Wow. So much has happened over the last 4 years that has contributed to where I am today.
I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Breast Cancer in February of 2018. I had surgery in March and started chemo in April. The day after my first chemo session, I decided to foster a litter of 6 orange kittens! What a challenge that was, but honestly, the best thing I ever could have done. It took the focus off of myself and my struggles and onto a beautiful set of little lives that NEEDED me! Fostering those babies, of whom I ended up adopted two, really lit the fire of passion in my heart for our feline friends.
I finished chemo and radiation by October of 2018 and was deemed cancer free!!
I continued to foster for Crystal Miller. I also eventually started fostering for Rescued Pets Movement. My love and passion for helping cats continued to grow, many times having 15-20 foster cats in my home.
In April of 2020, I took in my first 3-ounce, 3-day old bottle baby!! What an experience. Chickadee had to be fed every 2 hours around the clock! Bottle-feeding is not for the faint of heart! But what a wonderful joy to see her grow into an amazing, beautiful, healthy cat who remained in our family!
The end of June 2020, I took in a sweet litter of 5 kittens whom I named Sunshine, Moon Pie, Milky Way, Nova and Leo. Despite my best efforts, Moon Pie and Sunshine passed away on July 8th. I was devastated. As I held Sunshine on my chest, he took his last breath. My heart broke. I knew I had to do more. By July 11th, I had a logo for my new rescue, The Sunshine Fund.
The last two years have been amazing, yet sometimes quite difficult. In April of 2021, the rescue was hit with a fatal virus called panleukopenia. This virus was unforgiving and took 13 little lives from me. I cried daily for 2 weeks as I lost one kitten after another. It was the worse experience of my life. I would rather go through cancer again than deal with panleuk. I had to rip up carpet, throw away cat trees, beds, blankets…anything that couldn’t be thoroughly sanitized. It was devastating but I was determined to rebuild!
After panleuk, my focus had to shift from momma and babies to older cats and older kittens. It was then that I realized how very little attention this age group received, especially older cats. I began taking in cats from shelters, FIV+ cats, street cats and owner surrenders. These cats are often harder to adopt out. I was blessed to be able to partner with other rescues to transport some of these to homes in the northern states.
Another group that gets less attention is cats with medical needs such as broken legs, tails, hurt paws, mange, etc. I will often accept these cases into the rescue and start fundraising to meet their needs.
It has been a joy to care for the least of these. I believe that all cat lives matter. From the cutest of the cutest kittens to the oldest of the old, they are all special!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
My world is my rescue. I honestly dont do much else. So if my bestie were to come to visit, we would sit in the living room, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy each other’s company for hours!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
This is a challenging question! There are so many reasons why I do what I do.
The first person to come to my mind is Crystal Miller. Crystal, with Love Beyond the Scars, is a wonderful example of how to be a great rescuer and advocate. Her compassion and love for the cats in her care is beyond amazing. I had the privilege of fostering for Crystal before I ventured off on my own. The next “reason” I do what I do was named Sunshine. Sunshine was one of 5 kittens in my care who became very sick. Sunshine and his brother Moonpie were not improving. Moonpie soon passed away. I was determined to save Sunshine and did everything I knew to do, including taking him to the vet. Sadly, Sunshine died while I held him on my chest. I cried for hours. I should have done more. I should have been able to save him. I promised him right then and there that his death would not be in vain. I will do more. I will learn more. I will have the financial resources to do more. As a result, rescue was born…The Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue. My sweet Sunshine will forever be with me and guide me.