What an awesome weekend. I flew to Dallas with my 16 year old son Ryan to meet Jay, a fellow cancer survivor with my same diagnosis, and Julie his best friend of 17 years. Julie happened to see my cancer story on my best friend, Joel's Facebook page last year, as Joel and Julie are cousins. When Julie read my story, she reached out to Joel to ask about contacting me, as her best friend was diagnosed with stage IV HPV related oral cancer as well.
Approximately a month ago, Julie contacted me to invite my son and I to the University of Michigan vs. University of Florida football game in Dallas, Texas. Julie lives in Michigan and is a loyal Michigan season ticket holder, a true fan. We had developed a good friendship through discussing my cancer journey so she could provide Jay with the best support she could as he was struggling through treatment. She speaks with Jay multiple times daily, and was a rock for him throughout his treatment. As we had become friends, she knew my son loves University of Michigan, and invited us to the game.
This was my first time meeting someone in person who I had helped while they were going through radiation and chemo, and it was truly meaningful. In fact, when we first met in Dallas, I was a little taken back, as it was also the first time I had ever seen someone else wearing the same cancer survivor band that I wear daily as a reminder that I am survivor of head and neck cancer.
The four of us went to the Ranger's baseball as well as the Michigan tailgate and football game. We had an awesome weekend, and it was a weekend I will always remember.
This is a friendship that will continue, as we work together to help other people diagnosed with HPV-related oral cancer. Our network will eventually grow to have survivors helping survivors all over the country and world.
Julie demonstrates first hand how important a best friend, spouse or any caring person can positively impact someone diagnosed with cancer. Her daily concern for Jay enabled him to remain positive and fight on.
I was fortunate to have a wife, kids, siblings, parents and great friends who supported me throughout my journey. I share this with you to remind you that you too can make a difference in someone's life as they are battling cancer.
Support is critical for those that are struggling, and you just may be the only person giving them hope as they fight to survive.
Head & Neck Cancer Survivor Band - I wear it daily to remind me of what's important.