Editor’s Note: Last week, as I was preparing for my appointment with orthopedic specialist Dr. Kimberly Les, my friend Jennifer reminded me that she works for a team of orthopedic surgeons at Royal Oak Beaumont, and graciously extended an invitation to help me in any way that she could — as she always does. At first, I told her, “I’ll let you know how the appointment goes. I’ll take notes and fill you in.” Then it hit me. Why give her the information second hand? What could be better than having Jennifer in the room with me — if she was willing — someone who actually works in the field of specialty for which I was seeking an opinion? I was certain that there was a lot she could add, whether it was simply taking in what the doctor was telling me, or asking questions I might not think to ask. So, I reached out. And I was not surprised that Jennifer rearranged her schedule so that she could be there with me, in the exam room, supporting me, listening to Dr. Les’s every word.
Later on that day, I saw that Jennifer had posted this beautiful piece, and I thought it was something that I needed to share with all of you. Jennifer and I met at marching band camp during the summer of 1982, our freshmen year of high school. Life after graduation took us in different directions, but then a few years ago, we reconnected. But enough from me. I’ll let Jennifer tell the rest of the story — along with sharing some insights into ways to help the people you love when they’re faced with a life crisis.
By Jennifer Levinson Nemeth
You know, life is strange. People come into your life, stay awhile, fade away, sometimes to come back, sometimes not. The lessons learned with each person are supposed to be the gift received in life. Each person brings pain and love, tears and laughter…some more one than the other.
I graduated from high school wanting to run as far as could. I didn’t realize then that the “what” or the “who” I was running from were all the wrong people. It’s taken me years to discover who the real person I needed to escape from was, and continues to be. My journey has been to re-connect with the people I had run from.
These pieces of this puzzle started to come together at my 20th high school reunion in 2006. I was nervous, even worried, about reconnecting and seeing how we had all “turned out”. That evening, and continuing on to today, I’ve found some truly amazing people who I’m so grateful to know. We don’t see each other often but connect by phone, text, email, facebook and in person as life allows.
Last Tuesday, I was honored when one of those friends reached out and asked if I could come with her to a doctor appointment. Amy is managing metastatic breast cancer. After battling Stage I several years ago, the Stage IV return in January 2011 was a shock. I’ve followed her blogs, enjoyed Girls’ Nite Out with her and a few other high school friends, reached out with chocolates and brownies for this amazing chocolate loving warrior, and above all, prayed. Prayed for this battle to be short fought and victorious. Prayed for her pain to disappear. Prayed for this disease to leave her body for good and never come back. I’ve written about Amy on my blog and facebook page, asking for all to join me in praying for her good health to return.
It’s scary sometimes to know what to say, how to help, what words will soothe and which words will comfort Amy. I want to help and I’m learning sometimes it’s just knowing a friend is thinking of you that is the most comfort. New and/or changing disease symptoms required last Tuesday’s specialist visit and when Amy texted me, I knew there was no other place to be. My boss cleared my extended lunch and I hustled to prepare my surgeon’s morning cases so I could skidaddle at noon, over to Beaumont, to see and be with my friend.
Amy has an amazing presence about her. Calm, when I knew my own insides were rattling, Amy, her husband, sister, cousin and I sat and waited to be called back. We talked about my broken foot, my oldest son’s wrestling skills (eh hem) and we laughed. We were Amy’s posse that day and I was glad to be part of the team.
The nurse called us back and we settled into a big room, patiently waiting for the doctor’s arrival. The knock on the door came and in she entered, calm and gently introducing herself to each of us. Dr. Kimberly Les of Beaumont Royal Oak sat in front of Amy and asked for her history. Listening to Amy describe the last several years, diagnosis, treatment, disease location, chemo treatments, etc., was amazing. Her clarity and understanding of this disease and the available treatments is second to none. She is certainly not your average patient.
Somewhere inside I was worried, nervous, even scared about what this doctor might offer or suggest. Dr. Les was terrific. So kind. So clear. So pleasant to talk with. She offered lots of what I think was great news. Her explanations made sense and were reassuring to me and I hope were just as reassuring to Amy and her family. We left with a plan, as Amy and her team always devise.
Amy continued on to her next appointment at Beaumont and I said my goodbyes for the day and returned to work. There was a lot of information shared and it was a lot to hear. I thought about it throughtout the rest of my day as I worked with and talked with patients. Amy’s medical team is outstanding. Her personal team of soldiers, of which I am honored to be a part, are outstanding. I can’t help but believe Amy will, one day, stand strong and victorious on top of this damned disease and crush her heel into Cancer.
Thanks for wanting me to be with you last Tuesday, Amy. I’m here anytime you need anything.
Copyright 2012, Jennifer Levinson Nemeth