Jami Zakem (rhymes with “Rock em'”) here. I’m Bethany’s friend, former boss, and proud to be one of her mentors. I feel honored to be here, visiting from SF, to give Bethany a little boost for this last stretch.Today is the final day of chemo. You’ll notice there are no exclamation points. It’s because while, exciting, it’s just one of many lines for Bethany to cross to be on the other side of all of this.
But, still, how does one celebrate the last day of chemo? Well, if you’re Mary, you buy your daughter a foam “champagne hat”, bust out the Chemoji hats, and shower everyone around with love and laughter. Works for me!
Because today’s final chemo will take place at 1:30pm, after I’ve already left for the airport, I’m going to use this blog post to report on yesterday’s happenings.
Yesterday was the day before the last day of Chemo. That’s like Chemo Eve, right?
A few weeks ago when I texted Bethany and suggested I visit her this week I was beyond thrilled when she said “Do it.” I was also nervous. Over the 8 years that Bethany and I worked together we have grown close with a deep mutual respect but this was new territory.
Needless to say, the nerves went away the minute I entered her house on Tuesday night. Bethany looks amazing, greeted me with a big hug, a Bethany smile, and was ready to chat and catch up, along with Kevin, Hilary and Mary.
Bethany’s energy level was high. When I asked her about it she said it’s because she is given steroids on chemo days. I believe a direct quote was “oh, I feel like I could run through that wall right now!”. Love this girl.
On the advice of a nurse, Bethany stayed up until 10pm the past two nights in hopes of getting a better night sleep. The report from Bethany is that it worked.
Bethany and Hilary picked me up at my hotel yesterday morning with Bethany driving and a cup of Starbucks for me. You see what she did there?! Aren’t we supposed to be taking care of her?
Yesterday’s chemo session was at 9am at the Loyola Center for Health in Burr Ridge about 20 mins from her house. It’s a beautiful facility and I was able to witness first-hand how much joy and light Bethany brings to the place. She says it’s because she’s the only patient under 60 but I think it’s because Bethany brings joy and light wherever she goes.
Her treatment lasted an hour and we were easily able to fill the time by chatting. The chatting continued on her couches at home after the treatment. Gang, there is a LOT to catch up on!
Bethany’s only side effect yesterday was a metallic taste in her mouth at the end of treatment. From what Bethany told me, it’s going to be the few days after treatment that are the tough ones so while she’s ready to celebrate the end of chemo today, I think she’ll be happy when the weekend is behind her.
In the afternoon I went back to my hotel for a few hours to give Bethany a little time to rest before our fajita party. Say what?! Although I’m sure all of my Jewish Aunts and Mom would have coached me to make Matzoh Ball soup, fajitas just seemed more fun for our Chemo Eve celebration. And they were. Such a warm, fun night around the dinner table with Bethany, Kevin, Hilary and Mary.
And that brings us to today. Bethany’s FINAL chemo session. F as in Final. F as in Fight. F as in F-cancer. She still has a long road ahead to heal physically and emotionally but this sure is one huge milestone.
Bethany has said over and over again that she couldn’t have gotten through this without the support of all of you but I know you’ll agree with me when I say that we couldn’t have gotten through this without her leadership.
At Yelp we often say “Leader Sets the Tone” and that is exactly what Bethany has done for all of us. While she has had every right to just continually say “this sucks”, “I hate this”, “pity me”, she has instead set a very different tone. Here is the tone she’s set:
- I’ll find humor where I can
- I’ll be grateful every day
- I’ll let people around me know I love them
- I’ll be real
- I won’t sugar coat but I won’t indulge in self-pity
- I’ll share myself and let others in
She is a true leader. Whether it’s at work, in sports, in sickness or health. She sets the tone and we all follow. What a gift to all of us.
Today Bethany is feeling tired and with mixed emotions. While she knows she is expected to celebrate the end of chemo as the huge milestone that it is, she also needs to rest up for the weeks to come.