Monday, September 24, 2007

Walk it Girl!

Many of you remember that I lost a friend on September 2nd.

We lost. She won.

I know she now battles for us along side our Savior in a glorious place.

I keep saying I lost a friend, but truly many lost that day.

Her name is Sonya. She was petite with gorgeous curly black hair, porcelain skin, and was never without her ruby red lips! She always had an incredible Godly spirit, a hug and a smile for you, and an encouraging word to say. And I always remember her being witty, making us laugh. I knew her because we went to college together and I became a member of the same social-service club as she. And even better, she was my pledge mom the semester I came along.

I remember when she married her husband and when she brought her first sweet baby to a homecoming reunion. Like many friendships we cultivate early on, ours was not one that had us in contact as often as we would have liked. But, we were always connected. The many times we did talk on the phone, email, or visit in person were maybe more special that way. We stayed in touch over the years; phone calls, emails, lunch a few times, always a sweet Christmas card where I watched her precious family grow over the years. Those 3 girls are a picture of their mom and she had a very handsome boy as well!

My last physical memory of Sonya was the summer our babes were born. Her last, another sweet girl, and my Luke. They were a month apart. Sonya and I lived about 45 minutes away from each other. A fact that actually makes me feel ill knowing all the times we shoulda, woulda, coulda. But I have to let that guilt go, mostly because I know she would want me to. I took the kids that day and all of us had a wonderful visit. I will cherish the memory of that last time.

The next September, I had to call her. Our friend, Kevin, was not doing well. I knew she would want to know and would pray for him and his family. We lost Kevin 2 years ago this month. Sonya received her diagnosis the next month, October 2005. I did not learn of it until she sent a Christmas card; another beautiful portrait of her family. And the letter. The one that made me cry. She had been diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer. But true to Sonya's character, her letter was hopeful for herself and glorifying for God. She was already receiving treatments with good results and although the diagnosis was "daunting", she was faithful. And she wanted us to be faithful as well.

I told everyone I knew that would want to know, I passed along her contact information so she would have support from many that knew and loved her. And I sent her several emails.

Stupid emails!

I did not call her. I did not go see her.

The shame and guilt of that is immense for me. So much, that I have never spoken it out loud before today. I was scared to know. I was in denial that I could lose another friend. And then, life seemed to take up my time. I was in constant prayer for her, but no personal contact. It makes me feel like a failure as her friend. I know she does not want me to feel like that, but right now I do.

I think part of the reason these feelings of guilt so overtake me at times is that it was almost the same with Kevin. Although Kevin and I did keep in contact more with emails and phone calls, I did not physically see him during his battle. Until the end. Yes, we did live significantly farther away than Sonya and I, but still. I did get to share some time with Kevin, his family, and our friends in the hospital the week before he left to be with God. I am thankful I got to see him, touch him, speak to him, love him one last time here on earth.

Today, I share all that with you so that I can put a real story behind real causes. Many of you likely have causes that are dear to your heart and that you support already. Thank you for that! Below you will read about one foundation I have chosen to support. I found Design-Her Gals by what may seem like an accident, blog surfing, but I know it was a purpose-filled discovery. It is a cute site where you can create a "virtual" you and use that design for all kinds of stationary or on your Internet correspondence. I had so much fun last week creating 6 different me's! Finding that website meant finding the Gal to Gal Foundation and their Gals With A Cause virtual walk across America to fund research, treatment, and support of those diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer and their families. Not only am I participating (it cost $3 to create "you" and participate in the virtual walk), but in October, I am donating 20% of my Arbonne income to the Gal to Gal Foundation in honor of Sonya. This month, I am donating 10% to another cancer foundation in honor of Kevin.
Please read an excerpt from the website, and then if you would like to, go sign up to "walk" here.

I would love to hear from everyone who decides to do this!!

Thank you for your continued prayers for Sonya's family and for the many others that are fighting battles of all kind!

At the funeral home, many of Sonya's prayer warriors wore pink shirts with "to God be the glory" across the back. I smiled because I know that is what she believed and held steadfast to.

I agree.

Stacey

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GALS WITH A CAUSE
Join Design-her Gals on October 1st as we make "virtual" history as we launch the first virtual walk across America to raise funds for Stage IV breast cancer patients for the Gal to Gal Foundation. Your Gal will walk from Boston to San Francisco and stop in 29 other cities along the way ~ no training necessary! For info and to spread the word, CLICK HERE.

STAGE IV BREAST CANCER
Definition:
Cancer has spread to other organs of the body, most often the bones, lungs, liver, or brain.

The formation of the Gal to Gal Foundation was inspired by 2 special women in our lives. Robin Bloksberg, who passed away 6 years ago at the age of 45, and Janis Armstrong, who passed away on December 16th, 2005, after bravely enduring a 12-year battle with breast cancer. Diagnosed with Stage IV metastasized cancer in October of 2004, she spent the remainder of her life teaching us about the power and faith of friendship. Her openness about her process enabled us to witness firsthand the challenges and opportunities of a life altering disease. She helped craft the mission statement for the foundation and articulated the needs, desires and dreams of women facing Stage IV cancer.

The Gal to Gal Foundation believes that women diagnosed with Stage IV Breast Cancer deserve a great amount of support in order to maintain their dignity while receiving treatment throughout the progression of their disease. Over 300,000 patients worldwide will lose their lives to Stage IV Breast Cancer this year. The Gal to Gal Foundation identifies, partners with, and provides funding to existing organizations dedicated to the emotional and financial well-being of Stage IV Breast Cancer survivors.

Our research shows that although there are many wonderful organizations supporting breast cancer research, prevention and treatment for early stages - minimal dollars are being dedicated to Stage IV needs. The reality is, until breast cancer is extinguished in all its forms, there will be those who do not respond to the treatments that are currently available.

As our Chairperson Carrie Dederich puts it, "Cancer is an equal opportunity destroyer. No matter your age, race, economic or educational status, cancer can strike at any time." 10% of all women diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time will learn that their cancer has already metastasized. "The disease permeates family structure and alters forever the complexion of our homes and communities. It taxes our physical, emotional and spiritual strength. It must be stopped.

The Gal to Gal Foundation is forging a global community of caring, intelligent women who want to make a positive difference in the lives of others. We encourage you to join us in our commitment. Our goal is to raise $1 million dollars over the next 3 years. With your help this can be done. A portion of every purchase you make on Design-her Gals goes to the Gal to Gal Foundation and you can also give a direct donation on line. Simply CLICK HERE.

The Foundation has chosen to dedicate its monies in the 2006-2007 year in two important areas:

* to assist in the establishment of a comprehensive “one stop" dedicated web site for patients with metastasized cancer. We understand how this project could make a real difference for patients seeking immediate information and resources.

* and to Making Memories, an organization dedicated to granting wishes for Stage IV patients and their families

The Gal to Gal Foundation is a Non-Profit corporation, meaning donations are tax deductible.

Checks may be written to:

The Gal to Gal Foundation
777 Wall Street
Suite 203-B
Bend, OR 97701

or DONATE ONLINE.

For more information on Stage IV, we recommend: "Advanced Breast Cancer - A Guide to Living With Metastatic Disease" by Musa Mayer. O'Reilly, 1998.

2 comments:

Diann said...

Your friend sounds like she was a phenomenal woman. I look forward to reading more about the virtual walk and I know that your generosity will spur others along.

Jenna said...

Don't be so hard on yourself. You know that she knows what she meant to you. I think it was probably hard to see her because it meant confronting one of a mom's worst fears - that she will leave her babies.

The family will be in my prayers.