A tribute to my courageous friend, Dee Lobley

October 29, 2005|By Wendy Saylor

This time last year, my friend Dee Lobley was the guest speaker at the "Relay for Life" event. I was supposed to do a joint speech with her, but couldn't do it, I was just too chicken. As I listened to her talk, I was so impressed with her ability to connect with the people; she made them laugh, cry and understand the reason we were all there.

I know I will not be nearly as eloquent a speaker, but felt I had to talk as a tribute to Dee and all the cancer survivors here, tonight.

Dee and I spent a year-and-a-half fighting cancer together; losing our beautiful hair, facing the indignity of radiation and chemotherapy treatments, surgeries and endless doctor visits. Through this common bond, we become much closer friends.

I am in remission, hopefully, for a long time; maybe not. It is one thing none of us ever knows, once cancer is diagnosed.


Cancer has brought with it a big change in my life and I have spent a lot of time this past year observing and thinking about people going through a cancer diagnosis and treatment.

When I sat in Dr. Dona Hobart's office and she told me I had breast cancer in January 2004, I wept, I sobbed, I couldn't move - literally. She looked me in the eye and told me something I will never forget.

She said, "I know this sounds horrible right now, like the worst news you could ever hear, but you will end up being amazed by the kindness and thoughtfulness of people and the gifts you will receive." I thought to myself you are totally crazy lady, just insane, but she was so, so right.

I received cards from people I didn't know, delicious food from my family, friends to car-pool my daughters. I also received visits, lovely gifts and flowers from family and friends. I got calls every day from my angel sister, a boss who would work around my schedule, friends and co-workers who would step in for me when I was really tired, sick or having a down day. A husband who would take me to treatments, listen to me worry and stop the tears. Two teenage daughters who helped clean, cook, inspire me and spent valuable growing up time sitting on the sofa with a "sick" mom.

I also watched it happen with Dee. I have seen a devoted, loving, tireless and energetic husband who would literally walk to the ends of the earth for her to be well, who has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research, who has not missed a doctor's appointment or a day with his beautiful wife. Grown sons who visit and call every day, that will put aside their own fun and activities to be there for the mother they adore. Friends that pray, write letters, sisters and sisters-in-law that visit and bring laughter and comfort.

I have witnessed people in doctors' waiting rooms, mothers holding the hands of daughters, daughters gently helping their frail mothers, husbands nervously foot-tapping, praying and hoping for good news. Wife reassuring her husband that a test will turn out OK.

All around me abundant gifts of love. Cancer doesn't just touch one person, it touches all who care about them.

I have seen nurses hold a scared patient's hand, a whole room of registered nurses cheer when someone finishes a course of chemotherapy. I also have seen doctors go beyond the call of duty to offer advice and compassion to a family.

You see, my doctor was right about the gifts. Every day, good and bad, I feel thankful, appreciative and blessed to be here and enjoy the beauty of this life. As cancer patients, we have a second chance at life, it is a gift most people don't ever have.

I have also seen brave people, courageous people battling cancer, which brings me back to Dee-Dee.

Some people think I'm brave and strong, I am not. I just do what I have to do to survive.

Dee is brave and has courage, there is a difference. Courage is getting up when you get knocked down, having faith when there seems nothing to have faith in. Courage is also being thoughtful and kind when you are sick and exhausted, smiling, giving hope and sharing your spirit with all you come in contact with. Very few people have true courage; Dee has beauty and grace under the worst circumstances and is my hero.

In her speech last year, she said she would be back here again to lead this "Relay for Life Survivors Walk." I am so happy to be here, arm in arm with her, walking for a cure.

She said last year, we walk for hope, tonight again we walk in hope, celebrate surviving and for all the good in the human spirit.

To everyone here, I wish for a cure, but in the meantime, to live like my friend Dee, with faith and hope.

Editor's note: Saylor delivered this speech June 17 at the annual Relay for Life. Gilda "Dee Dee" Lobley passed away on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

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