A Profile of Hope: Kimi-Kali's and Julie's Story
In Kimi-Kali's and Julie's own words
To hear the words, "You have cancer", is devastating for any one person to handle. When you have two complete strangers brought together by the same exact diagnosis, months apart, it makes you stop and think, "How did this happen? Did we drink the same water? Sit on the same toilet seat? Breathe the same air?" We had to give credit where credit is due. God places people in our lives at the right time and for the right reason. I thank God every day for my Lymphoma sister.
Julie and I met at Bennett Optometry, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was my son James' vision therapist who helped correct his vision and tracking issues. We instantly clicked and our relationship grew from therapist/patient to friends. Julie and I began talking on the phone like we had known each other since grade school.
Among our busy lives and work schedules our goal was to plan a road trip to Frankenmuth, a little German town in Michigan, to shop and eat their famous chicken. Our plans did not come to pass due to the first diagnosis of cancer September 2006. Julie had an abnormal pap smear which lead to extensive testing. She was diagnosed with stage 4, Diffuse Large B Cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. I was in shock to hear that my new found friend had cancer. How could this be? We were supposed to go to Frankenmuth. Julie began treatment along with the ups and downs of chemotherapy and radiation.
Fast forward to December 2006 just before the New Year. I called to check on Julie, she seemed ok but busy with work. Days later I end up in the hospital with difficulty breathing, swollen face, eyes and hands. The doctors made hints and speculations that pointed towards lymphoma. The doctors were going off of CBC testing, X-rays and CT scans. I had to wait until after the New Year to get extensive testing and the final diagnosis. After a lymph node biopsy from my neck, a second diagnosis of Diffuse Large B Cell non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, stage 2 was confirmed. I now have a lymphoma sister I never wanted. I was satisfied with being friends.
We instantly started joking that I was jealous and didn't want her to have cancer alone or have her be the only one wearing a wig. I just had to be sick with her. Like the awesome Aunt she is, she stepped in to care for my son while I was in the hospital. James quickly returned the love by teaching his Aunt how to fry Spam. The two of us compared doctor reports, medications, chemo sessions and all the strange things that happen to your body while going through cancer treatment. We even solved the issue of taking the nasty taste out of our prednisone, by wrapping them in Fruit Roll Ups.
No one understood what we were going through except each other. We spent countless hours on the phone talking, crying and consoling one another. We continue to share every milestone and celebrate our remission. Julie's remission date is April 10, 2007 and mine is June 20, 2007. This past year we made that trip to Frankenmuth. We have participated in cancer retreats, patient programs, and fundraising walks that support research and finding a cure for lymphoma and leukemia.
We hope and pray that our story will inspire, bring hope and a giggle to those that need it most — our Lymphoma and Leukemia brothers and sisters. James loves his Auntie to death. Thank you for being my sister and sharing cancer with me. I love you Lymphoma sister.
This is to anyone ever diagnosed with cancer you are not alone — we're your sisters too!
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