I met Erica in May of 2013. I was asked to attend a luncheon with our principal, the special education director, Stefanie, and a new special education teacher that would be joining our school (the awesome Ms. Erica). Little did I know that this luncheon would change the course of my friendships forever.
When I met Erica, she was so put together that I thought she was older than me. We also had a lot in common. We both went to Ball State. We both were teachers, and we both had kids around the same age. We both had significant others who were pretty outstanding men. She became a close friend in December 2013 after a very interesting Indiana Ice game.
When I heard that Erica had cancer in April 2014, it rocked me. I had heard about her first time with caner and how she had beaten it, so I was thinking that it would be a piece of cake. Surgery, maybe a little radiation. Good to go. She could do this again and beat it again. She’s one of the strongest people I know. I never thought for a moment at first that she would be anything, but quick and painless. Then, I heard the diagnosis of how bad the cancer was this time around, and I was scared. How could cancer grow that fast in such a short amount of time? What was going to happen?
The hardest part for me was not being able to do more. I didn’t want to show my fear to her, so I tried to be there for her in any and every way that I could be. We would have Wylee, her son, over to play with our kids. I’d take him home with us from school when she had appointments or needed some time. Erica would call me to get away, and I would drop what I was doing, which was usually nothing, and go hang out with her, take her out, go shopping, whatever it was that she wanted to do. At her wedding, I helped with baking pies and running people to and from the wedding site and hauling kegs.
I only made one appearance at her chemo treatments, but it was quite an eventful one. The nurse who was administering her chemo accidentally spilled a couple tiny drops on my flip flop when she was attaching it to the IV. I didn’t think anything of it. I had brought my computer to watch movies with Erica, and I had planned to be there all day. Within an hour, I was in bathroom, vomiting profusely. I ended up in the ER downstairs from the chemo ward – JR having to drive me in a wheelchair through the back channels of the hospital. I had never been so sick, so fast and didn’t realize it could have been from the chemo barely touching my skin. If this tiny amount of chemo could make me this sick, I could not imagine how Erica was putting this into her body and still managing to be so strong. She was incredible.
I think the biggest thing that someone can do when their friend is battling cancer is to be there for them. Go out. Stay in. Watch a movie. Go shopping. Make them laugh. Erica has the greatest sense of humor. She hasn’t let the cancer take that away. She’s the strongest person I’ve ever met. There are days that I wish I could do more for her, but being her friend is the best gift I could ever ask for and I’ll do anything that I can to protect this amazing woman. She is incredible. She is strong. She is remarkable. She shows me how to live each and every day.