Today I have 3 friends at MDAnderson in Houston.
I met Scott online. I asked a question on Twitter about Crossfit. He answered. We discovered a handful of mutual online friends thanks to how small the WordPress community is. A few months later he passed out following one of his workouts and they discovered brain cancer. They operated. He recovered. Then they actually moved to Texas so now I consider us not only online friends - but also neighbors - and I've enjoyed getting to know him and his wife via IG and Twitter.
One full year of chemo - with no side effects - and in February of 2015 he celebrated having beat the disease.
Last week he started having numbness in the left side of his body. Two days ago they found a new tumor. Unoperable. He posted the scans from MDAnderson.
He has a wife and 4 kids. Is in better shape than 99% of people I know. He's an amazing survivor; I've never read any public statement with even a hint of victimization. He's going to beat this. I just know he is. He just has to.
I bought my second house from Linda and her husband Mike. My ex-husband still lives there. Over the years Linda became like an aunt --- or even -- like a mother--- to me. Although I think of her more like a dear dear friend. I guess technically she's old enough to be my mom but she's one of my favorite people to hang out with. She's optimistic. She's vivacious. She's a dare-devil! We had plans to sky dive together this May in celebration of my oldest son's 18th birthday.
Today she is at MDAnderson having the last of the inflammatory breast cancer removed. She's already had a mastectomy on one side and they found more cancer afterwards. Her heart was damaged by the chemo so they've had to wait 6 months for her heart to get strong enough to handle more chemo and surgery.
Her Dr. in San Antonio basically told her they couldn't do anything for her. MDAnderson has an entire department dedicated to Inflammatory Breast Cancer and they're going to beat it. I just know they are.
She just has to.
I met Lesli when I walked Hannah to her new classroom. We were having a tough year. We were dealing with lots of family trauma - to include a new school for all the kids. We turned the corner and there stood Lesli.
Standing tall and proud and eager to meet Hannah - she greeted us with her infectious smile and bright shining eyes. But you couldn't mistake the obvious sign of what was on her plate. She was 100% bald and wore a sign around her neck saying she was recovering from cancer and couldn't give hugs.
Sure made my harried morning getting all the kids to the new school seem... inconsequential.
Lesli was battling Ovarian Cancer. I can't remember all the details but it had been a long battle and she was on the road to recovery. And then - the spring semester came and one day Lesli wasn't there. She wasn't going to be coming back. Her cancer had returned. Hannah and I went to visit her at the local hospital. I even ended up staying one night with her a few months later to help her out following a procedure. She had done SO MUCH for Hannah during the short 6 months that she was her teacher. She was a source of constant joy, a safe place, and a positive force in Hannah's (at the time) very stressful season of life.
The next school year Lesli came to my house and celebrated "Mimosa Monday" in which we raised our glasses to the start of a new school year and Lesli's first year fully retired.
Shortly thereafter they moved to Houston. To be closer to her family and to continue her treatments at MDAnderson.
Last month they found out her sister also is battling cancer. I met her sister Michelle when Lesli was here in the hospital. I thought, when I sat back and listened to Lesli and her sisters chatter and giggle, "I hope that's me and my siblings when we're in our 40's!" They're a wonderful family and it saddens me that this is now on Lesli & her sister's plate.
Today she is at MDAnderson getting chemo. I pray she can beat this. She just has to. They just have to.
I'm 39 and can no longer count on two hands how many people I know who have survived or succumbed to cancer. Knowing that 3 of my friends are at MDAnderson today leaves me feeling a little off kilter.