How did I write this without a curse word?

My phone rang yesterday afternoon.  It was a Facetime from my daughter.  Minutes after we talked, my phone buzzed again, this time with a text from my niece.  Minutes after that, more calls and texts came in.  They were all in response to the blog  I didn’t see the blog that I feared was coming.  This is devastating news to all who know and love Jackie.  To know the Acho/Lemay family, is to love them.  After fighting cancer and defying statistics, Jackie is in her last days.  Greed, profit, and reducing people to statistics, have failed her.  But this isn’t a blog about that.  There will be time for the release of that anger. 

Jacob was diagnosed with cancer in April of 2019.  Before that, I didn’t know Jackie.  Jackie has advanced degrees from some of the world’s finest institutions.  She was partner at McKinsey.  She is an achiever to the highest levels.  I am a recovering alcoholic with an ability to put words on paper.  Sometimes even eloquently.  She’s from Michigan and has lived in many places.  I am from Ohio and decided to settle in the city that bore me.  We even overlapped, in a city of millions, for a while in Chicago.  Jackie and I live in the same suburb but have different social circles.  Cancer brought us together and healing brought us together.

Coping with cancer takes many directions.  Some get and stay depressed while others try and go on as if it’s not there.  I’ve seen people drift further into despair and addiction.  Jacob’s journey is well documented.  He continued to honor his body and mind by reading and exercising when possible.  He enjoyed games of chess while also escaping with SouthPark binges.  My friend Maxine, diagnosed ten years prior, kept working until she couldn’t work anymore.  She gave cancer little validity to control her emotions.  I still haven’t seen a bad way to deal with cancer.  Each journey is deeply personal and completely understandable.

Jackie wrote.  This is what brought us together and forged a friendship I won’t forget.  Jackie has spent the past few years studying cancer:  Causes, treatments, and cancer care.  Alliteration aside, the term is oxymoronic.  As I composed blog after blog, trying to sort out my emotions to help cope with Jacob’s journey, Jackie was writing about the current state of the field of cancer care.  With her family, she didn’t accept the Cleveland Clinic’s death sentence almost two years ago.  Instead, Jackie and John moved to Istanbul to receive care our nation refuses to consider, likely because of profitability.

I recently got a call from a friend.  I was at work.  It was from my friend Jackie.  She shared with me the news I didn’t want to hear.  Selfishly, I wanted to tell her to keep trying any and everything.  Unfortunately, I heard the voice I heard twice before.  One was from Jacob and the other, Max.  It was the sound that the fight was over in the physical.  It’s my turn to continue to persist.  Jackie had one final request which I was honored to grant.  She also gave me permission to be as “angry as you want to be.”  My family has attempted to censor me for years.  I curse more than an English Football Fan in a pub after being overserved. 

Jackie has accepted for all that I am.  I am grateful knowing you.  As much as we talk and write, few know that we’ve met less than five times.  Few relationships are like this and I in your debt.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Thanks for showing me a different meaning of love
  • Thanks for allowing me into your world.  Your circle of trust is so well vetted and established.  I am honored to know you
  • Thanks for encouraging me to love myself while pushing my comfort
  • Thanks for teaching me the true meaning of empathy.

My Promise to you:

  • I will practice self-grace. 
  • I will love your family as they are my own
  • I will challenge EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING
  • I will fight our <lack of> cancer care

A Request:

Please find Jacob and watch over us.

I Love you Jackie! We all do!

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