This year, my best friend from high school, Demi Holt, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This news unfortunately came on the heels of other devastating changes in Demi's life: family death, divorce and adjusting to a new life as a single mother. She is a strong woman but she had been handed so much bad news in a short amount of time, it could test anyone.
On the plus side, Demi is lucky enough to have invested in a great cancer insurance plan and that was helpful with a lot of her bills.
She was really in need of support and help with just a few things. However, when someone you love is hurting, there is nothing you wouldn't do to try to make it even a little better.
After her first surgery, I went down and cooked for her and her son and filled their refrigerator. I made tiny meals in the smallest size canning jars and stocked the freezer too. I made homemade vegetarian pot pies and soups in mini sizes, so that she just needed to pop one out and it was the perfect size for a tummy that didn't always want to eat but needed the nourishment.
I live two hours away and I really wanted to do more to help but the back and forth was so hard to schedule. One of Demi's loves has always been music. It's one of those things we've bonded on early in our friendship and something we enjoy sharing with each other. I contacted every musician I knew on Facebook, email, or by phone and asked each of them to record a song with a special message for my friend. I would need 23 to fill up the 23 week treatment plan that was prescribed with included 18 chemotherapy sessions. It's funny when you ask honestly from your heart for a favor and you tell someone that they can do something to help ease the pain of a perfect stranger the kind of response you get. Videos started streaming in. The first one came from one of my first employers who owned a small restaurant. The rest were from friends, family, employees and customers from my Liberty Tax Service store.
Although I did not contact my customers or employees, they read my Facebook appeal and told me they wanted to help out. One client said that I didn't realize what I did for him when I prayed with him in my office over his problems and he wanted to return my kindness that I extend to him year after year. He ended up sending me two gospel songs to give her. I released one video every Wednesday so that she could listen to the song during chemo and it could give her strength. It was interesting how different each song the musicians chose were and how fitting they all were to her situation and life. But, they all had one thing in common: they were full of love and heart.
As the weeks went on I started to have a countdown once we reached the half way mark for her chemo treatments. And no matter how hard she fought and how tired and sick the medicines made her she rarely complained but she did have anxiety every Monday and Tuesday night. I wanted to help alleviate that but there is so little you can do when someone you love is suffering with cancer. I asked my friends to start a countdown with me and to post a picture with a note to Demi that said "3 more weeks! You got this!" or "Fight like a Warrior! Go Demi!" We had decided that survivor was such a passive term and that full on Warrior was a more accurate description. Friends started picking up on the trend but also my friends across the country through Liberty Tax Service joined in the effort. My employees read about the campaign and started making signs and posting pictures. She was overwhelmed by the fact that strangers from around the country would take the time to make a picture to inspire her to get through another round of chemo.
On the week, she had only two treatments left, there were a record breaking 79 pictures encouraging her that the end was in sight and that she had indeed fought cancer and was winning. Her cancer number had gone from 45 to 6. Her doctor actually told her after that announcement that she should get up and dance. My wavers all took pictures, several of my clients and a lot of my colleagues and employees made up that number as they all unselfishly took time from their busy peak period to make her day and fight that much brighter. When I got home that night, I was so overwhelmed going through the pictures of how much support and love my Liberty Tax Service family was not only giving to me, but to my friend who was a complete stranger to them.
I knew I had to have something bigger in store for her last week and I tried to come up with some way to top my previous actions. When I think of the number 1, only two things come into mind. 1. Liberty Tax Service and our goal to be #1 in 2020. It is a goal I strongly believe in and work towards almost every day. 2. John Hewitt, which I feel goes without explaining. So, I wrote our CEO John Hewitt and asked for his help in sending me a picture to give to my friend with him holding up his finger in a number 1. I was beyond thrilled when Mr. Hewitt took time out his extremely busy day during the peak of the tax season to do something that might sound so simple and meaningless to many business people, but was a strong statement that was filled with compassion and hope. John has always said he puts God and Family first and business after and he certainly proves that every day with his actions. Yes, he is competitive. Yes, he wants to win. But he has fostered and encourages such a great culture where everyone who represents Liberty Tax Service in someway is rallied to give back to the community and to give of ourselves.
She told me after receiving John's picture that she was so glad she had been going to the local Liberty Tax in her area. When they asked why she came in she always said that her best friend owns one. She told me that now she has a hundred reasons to go to Liberty Tax Service from all the surprises and support she had received. I would have never thought that my fellow franchisees from around the country would join me in something so personal to me as to minister to my friend in her very darkest hour. But that is what family does. And, we are a family. From my wavers all the way to CEO of our company, I received so much love, support and kindness as well as my friend. I am always so surprised to see how many areas of my life are touched by Liberty Tax Service and the incredible people who make up this great company!
The enclosed picture is a painting I had made to always remind Demi that she is a Warrior. Some people want to leave bad things in the past and never think of them. From this day forward it is my wish for her to never forget how strong she was and all the support and love the world opened up and gave her. And so I am also making a book to contain all the pictures we received and stills from the music videos with the lyrics displayed. So much of this book is full of the kind people that make up Liberty Tax Service! Thank you all!
Author: nicole Bellenfant
Bio: I'm a proud Liberty Tax Service zee and an area developer.