If we live long enough, our heart will be broken. It can happen in any number of ways and when it does, that unexpected brokenness fractures our sense of well-being. It’s a realization that power or intellect cannot change the current situation; it is what it is.
I have experienced plenty of anguish in my lifetime but this current bump in the road isn’t just a surface pothole; it’s more like a giant sinkhole that has devoured my heart and left me shaken and disheartened. The word ‘broken’ took on a whole new meaning when I learned that my sweet Sophie Tomek-Reed is battling Stage IV colon cancer at age 28.
There was no family history.
In July 2019, Sophie had emergency surgery to take out half her colon and a tumor nearly blocking the colon. Because she had no symptoms the cancer had advanced and spread to lymph nodes, abdominal wall, lungs, and liver. Sophie finished her 12th round of chemo December 2019.
This January 2020 she will get a scan and meet with a host of specialists to see where to go from here. The chemo treatments completely cleared her lungs and abdominal wall and other lesions shrunk with no new growth. My hope and prayers are the additional 8 rounds of chemo will continue to bring positive results!
Imagine a 16-year old Linden high school student coming to your home every day after school to work. Her job was to pull and pack incoming customer orders for shipping. At one point I had eight high school girls working in my home; they were more like family than employees.
A constant stream of vocal electricity filled the house the minute everyone arrived for work. Even with all the chatter the girls worked diligently to do the job and a ‘no-show’ for work was almost non-existent. We were team players. I provided them with pay checks; they helped to grow my company. It was a win-win situation and sure beat working at a fast food restaurant.
Sophie lost her dad suddenly the year before she started working for me. Two years late in 2008 I lost my dad and together we did a balloon launch to give tribute to two great men. That day forged a bond between Sophie and I that is 12 years strong.
After high school Sophie moved away to college but returned every Christmas, spring and summer break to work for me. Her creative abilities became evident and she stepped up her game and became my head designer for crafting hand-made soaps from the molds my company developed and manufactured. After college, Sophie moved to Key West but continued to work for me remotely.
Whenever a new mold design was introduced, she was my go-to gal to create and photograph the finished product to showcase to our online customers and retailers.
At age 28 Sophie is fighting for her life the only way she knows how: With dignity, grace and the support of family and friends. In January 2020 I started ‘A RING OF HOPE’ for Sophie.
It’s a 52 card pick-up but not in the way you might think. This is a metal ring that houses 52 cards of ‘pick-me-up’ encouragement and hope to someone who has fallen into a sinkhole of life due to life threatening illnesses and circumstances hell-bent on confiscating joy, hope and peace. Every day Sophie receives two cards in the mail to add to her RING OF HOPE.
Sophie received her first cards this week. Here is the message I received. If this doesn’t tug at your heart then you need to become more involved in giving to others. I’m just sayin’.
“Wow. I’m bawling currently. This is so special to me you have no idea. I love you so much and can’t thank you enough for this. Your support means everything to me. Cried on my first card (note the tear droplet on the card), but I think it was meant to fall there. To remember how I felt reading that first card.”
Chances are we will never know the life imprint we leave on the heart of someone when they are divinely placed in our life. With age, the one thing I have learned is that humanity is interconnected and spiritually joined in ways never imagined. It’s been God’s plan from the beginning of creation.
My friendship and love for Sophie was ordained by God. And our paths crossed for a reason and I am thankful, grateful and privileged to be on Sophie’s list of friends even though there is a 36 year age difference.
I pray for Sophie daily and I hope after reading this post you will say a prayer for her too. I am 100% sure that someone you know and love is facing cancer and fighting for their life.
Praying for Sophie with you, Denise. Age is not a definer in lifelong friendships. This is a beautiful post and I’ll be watching for updates as her treatment progresses. You’re right – we all know someone walking through cancer.