meet again10614258_10202949248152535_3789483547014002195_nme.Jen

The first year or so after my cancer diagnosis I was in an eternal fog; Constantly living, breathing, and learning about cancer. Once I was lucky enough to start a targeted therapy (xalkori) and I started to feel more like my old self, I decided something good had to come from this catastrophic disease.

I wanted to help others in my situation and pass along the info and hope I had gained through a lot of research and new friends in the lung cancer community. I started volunteering with our local American Lung Association: speaking at their Fight For Air Walk (later Lung Force), Frankly Speaking, Scale the Strat, and doing TV and radio promos for their fund raisers. I also got trained and facilitated Freedom From Smoking and Not on Tobacco classes to help others to lead a healthier lifestyle. I helped them to put a face to their cause and they helped give me a platform to share lung cancer facts to our community. But in July 2014, they gave me so much more….

Diane called me and said a young lady, recently diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, contacted them for information and wanted to get involved with their organization. Would I be willing to meet her? YES PLEASE!
Diane set it up and I met with Jen for tea. We talked for hours. We shared our stories, cried, hugged, and exchanged numbers. I felt like I’d known her for years and I knew as soon as I left that I had just met a life-long friend. I didn’t know that time would be limited to 11 months.

Jen was a young, healthy 41 year old that gave cancer a run for its money, but we all know: cancer does not fight fair. Sadly her treatments didn’t last long before having to move onto another, but she endured it all with grace and a beautiful smile. The outpouring of love and support to her family has been amazing. She was a teacher and she taught us all more than she’ll ever know. The lives she touched will forever be changed for the better.

This is the hardest part for me; making friends with other cancer warriors. I love having them to share advice, support, and love with, but it literally crushes my heart each time one of them goes to Heaven.
Psalm 34:18 says “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Well Jesus must be sitting on my lap because I am truly crushed and heartbroken – mostly for her family. Of course I’m sad and will miss her dearly, but her parents, her young daughter, her sisters and nieces…they’re the ones I’m most sad for.

I got to see Jen a few days before she passed and we talked and told each other how much our friendship meant. When I went back 3 days later I knew it was the last time I would see my friend: she was set free from her pain and this torturous disease a few hours later. Yes, It’s hard, it sucks, it’s very difficult to lose my friends, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. Lung cancer has taken so much from me but in return I have met dozens of beautiful, strong, funny, encouraging, supportive, smart, and tenacious fighters that have become wonderful friends.

I feel like I’ve been praying nonstop over the last week; to remove the pain and replace it with peace and comfort. I find peace in this scripture from Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” I know Jen is free of pain, able to walk, and watching over us all.

More than ever, I remember my mantra: growing old is a privilege that not everyone gets to enjoy.

I will always remember you and our friendship…until we meet again.