Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Disease That Keeps Taking

My heart is broken tonight. I've lost another friend to cancer.

This one was my spiritual daughter. We prayed together, cried together, and walked through some very difficult times in her life. And just when we thought the cancer had been defeated, it came back with a vengeance.

I don't know about you, but I'm sick of this disease taking my family and my friends. I'm sick of how every family has been touched in some way by its power to cut lives short. Even with all the new treatments and drugs, it still keeps cutting us down one by one.

When my father was my age, all he ever talked about were the friends who were sick or had died. At the time, I didn't understand why he would focus on this all the time. But I understand now. When it keeps smacking you in the face, it's hard not to dwell on it.

Rae was the kindest, sweetest, most soft spoken woman. Her desire was to serve God in spite of everything that had happened in her life. She raised two boys on her own, raised grandchildren, unexpectedly lost her spouse, and battled cancer.

I don't think I will ever understand the why or even the how of this disease. I do know that my daughter and I are two of the lucky ones. For whatever reason, we were able to dodge the bullet and live to tell about it. I also know that you never really stop thinking about it and wondering if it's silent for now and hiding to rear its ugly head at some point down the road. It is and always will be a part of you.

While she was on this earth, Rae blessed so many lives, mine included. Her children were blessed to have her as mom and so were her grandchildren. Words are never enough when something like this happens. Even the comfort we get from God often falls short during these times.

I am glad that I will see Rae again someday in heaven and that we will embrace one another like no time has even passed. I'm thankful that both of our bodies will be healed and there will be no more pain or suffering. But most of all, I am thankful that one day this horrible, evil disease will no longer destroy so many lives and families.

Rest in peace, sweet Rae. I was blessed to have known you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Soul I Will Forever Remember

I met Wendy online about seven years ago. We signed on to collaborate on a parent’s site for college-bound teens. I knew from the start that she was a remarkable woman. I met her in person in July of last year. She was even more remarkable then—fighting ovarian cancer and doing everything she could to stay positive amidst a very devastating prognosis.

We met at Penn Station in New York City. Her smile lit up the train station and I will never forget her red glasses that framed her face. She was a petite woman with a spirit that was larger than life. We had talked on the phone for years, shared medical histories, family joys, and had serious conversations about cancer and how it had touched both of our lives. Since she lived in New York and I lived in Texas, the chance of us meeting in person were slim. But God had a plan and as fate would have it, I was in New York over the summer and we arranged this day.

We walked for miles that day, even though she was weak from chemotherapy treatments and the toll it had taken on her body.  She wasn’t going to let any of that interfere with the day, however, and she never complained for a second. We walked the High Line, had lunch together at Chelsea Market dining on fresh lobster which was a real treat, and splurged on some cheesecake and brownies for desert. We laughed and talked about our lives and futures, and we ended with some somber conversations.

As the day was coming to an end, she invited me to join her and her husband, Mitch, for dinner in Little Italy. We walked about a mile enjoying the New York neighborhoods and talking about her daughter’s wedding which she was so looking forward to attending. During dinner, Mitch attended to her every need and you could tell how much he adored her. He hung on her every word and it was a joy to see the love that they had for one another.

After dinner, we walked to the subway taking pictures of the neighborhood streets along the way. Wendy loved the city and was fascinated with everything it had to offer. They both escorted me back to the train station, made sure I was on the right one, and waved goodbye, smiling.

It’s rare in this world that you meet someone like Wendy. She was kind, compassionate, focused, sincere and positive. She had a knack for words, moving me with her words that she willingly shared with her colleagues and parents, and had a great sense of humor. In the college prep world, she was a giant. Her book, giving a humorous parent perspective of college prep life, left me in stitches. She loved a good joke, telling them and hearing them. And in the last several years, she was a fearless, determined, committed advocate for ovarian cancer prevention and treatment.

I will remember Wendy for all these things, but most of all for her unconditional friendship and support. She left this world too soon, but she left it leaving me and so many others with the best of memories and the desire to be like her—a lover of life and a fighter to the very end.

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you”. Philippians 1:3

If you want to honor Wendy's memory, join me in donating to ovarian cancer research so that others will not have to endure this horrible disease.