One year ago today, I was sitting at a large U-shaped table configuration at a Country Club surrounded by CEO’s and Presidents of major international IT companies at one of our quarterly Board Meetings. As you would suspect, most of the people around the table are older men (although, as I get older, they no longer seem that much older.) There were only a handful of women.
It was during this meeting that I received an email on my blackberry that changed my life. The message was from Julie and said, “The spots on my liver and lungs are cancer. We are scared…” There was more to the email, but I didn’t get any further then that before the tears blurred my vision and I realized I had to leave the room immediately (there is NO crying at work, especially not at a board meeting.) I immediately called Julie (which, if I had read the email further I would not have done because she said, “Please don’t call, as we are still trying to absorb this ourselves.”) and I tried to act calm and cool as I said, “What does this mean, I don’t understand.”
I don’t think any of us really understood much about Cancer at that point. Just one month prior, another friend of mine had been diagnosed with Stomach Cancer. He was 35 and the father of 3 kids under the age of 4. (Please note: He is officially CANCER FREE, after one year: a true miracle.) There I stood crying in the lovely country club bathroom realizing that my best friend of 28 years, who was 34 years old, with 3 kids under the age of five, had been diagnosed with cancer. I immediately recognized that God was trying to send me a message. I just wasn’t sure what the message was, but I was smart enough to understand there was a neon sign flashing in front of me.
Needless to say, I looked ridiculous with my red puffy eyes and blotchy face when I returned to the meeting. When asked, I blamed it on an allergy attack. (See there is something good about living in a high allergy area.)
For one year Julie has been living with cancer and fighting for the return of her body. As I sat in the hospital last night watching the chemo drugs go into her body I thought about how amazing and strong she is and how honored I am to be here. It is hard to believe it was a month ago that we went to Switzerland to pick up that precious chemo-therapy. What a trip of a lifetime. It was a fantastic time, even though I would have rather never needed to go in the first place.
As for today (Saturday, September 29), it is one year later, and we are still here…fighting. We have all learned to share our feelings and leave nothing unsaid. Although this isn’t a Journey I would have ever chosen for Julie, it has shown everyone what a truly amazing person she is (which I already knew), and how lucky we all are to be on this road together. It has also showed up the power of friends and family.
Everyday I fight to understand what I am suppose to be learning from this Journey, and I can’t tell you I fully know His entire message. But I have seen many amazing things and learned so much that I would never had realized without going down this road. I have found my faith again. For now, all I know is that I will continue down this road, wherever it leads me and I feel blessed to have spent the past 28 years in the presences of the strongest, most amazing person I know.
In case you were wondering, we were dorks. We saved our allowance and bought matching t-shirts in 5th or 6th grade that said, “ Julies Best Friend” or “Jenny’s Best Friend” and then on the back we had our name. (You could tell we were young because I rarely went by the name Jenny!) We would coordinate and wear them to school on the same day. There was a sort of comfort in having someone you could call as your best friend when you were that age.