Old and New Friends

The Gift of Lorna and Keene

Ian had been diagnosed with a rare cancer a few months before I got a text from my old college friend, Lorna. We had also worked together for several years at the phone company but had lost touch for many years – decades, actually. A mutual friend, however, had heard that Ian was undergoing chemo and radiation treatment and suggested that Lorna contact me since her son, Keene, had recently battled cancer as well.

It was truly good to hear from Lorna after so many years. We texted back and forth, but when I realized that Keene didn’t win his battle, my heart dropped and it broke. Cautiously, I asked Lorna what kind of cancer her son had. A rare cancer she told me: rhabdomyosarcoma.

That’s what our son had.  

I then asked which of the two types of rhabdo – embryonal or alveolar? Lorna said it was alveolar, which is the deadlier of the two.

That’s what our son had.

She asked me where the tumor started. I explained. She then shot me a text right back saying that it sounded like the locations of their cancers were quite different, a meaningful differentiation for rhabdo. I knew she sensed my fear right through the phone, and she encouraged me the best that she could.

Sadly, after a heroic 8-month fight, Ian also lost his battle. He was 23 years old.

Lorna and I have spent lots of time together since we reconnected. We’ve shed tears for our boys in places all over the island – at the kitchen table, on the beach, at the mall, and in restaurants.

Lorna has been a true gift from God, providing hope that I could still be standing, breathing and living after such a tragic loss.

She quickly introduced me to The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents. We’ve attended together nearly every month since.

The more we talked, the more we came to realize how much our sons were alike. They were both true mamma’s boys, and we both felt as if we lost a best friend. They were both gentle and kindhearted; neither of them had a mean bone in his body. They were fun-loving and sometimes goofy. Both of our boys loved the ocean. Each left behind a beloved sibling. Our sons were both treated by the same pediatric oncologist at the same hospital. And, they both experienced a period of improvement before succumbing to the ravages of cancer.

Lorna and I wished that our sons had met before their untimely passing. Within days of Ian going home to Jesus, we prayed that they would find each other in heaven. How nice that would be, we thought, if they could know each now.

Sherrie's phone 2015 117 (3)
Ian and Sherrie
Lorna and Keene

I had mentioned to Ian’s fiancé, Lei, about my good friend Lorna and her son, Keene, who sadly passed away from the same rare cancer. A few days later, Lei came to me and shared a dream from her co-worker who knew Ian well.

In her dream, this co-worker said Ian looked good and had all his hair. She sat and chatted with him at Barber’s Point beach. This got Lei’s attention because few people knew that this was the beach where Ian was teaching her to surf. The co-worker then said that Ian told her that he was well and that he’s been spending time with another boy … who had cancer.

By the grace of God, our boys, it seems, had found each other.

3 thoughts on “Old and New Friends

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