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My hero

December 20, 2009

I met Justina* about 7 years ago. She worked for the same company I just started to work for. We were both sales reps, covered overlapping territory so we traveled together and became fast friends. We had our first children within a couple of months of each other and have since changed a lot – more children, different jobs, different houses – and about 2 years ago Justina found out she had cancer.

She had malignant melanoma. Some say that’s the worst kind. So Justina went through chemo, radiation and a year of drug treatment. The cancer was still there. So she did Interleukin (IL) treatment. It didn’t work. They looked into clinical trials but she wasn’t a match. They officially called it stage 4 and gave her not long enough to survive. But then some test results came back and maybe, just maybe, the IL had worked. She would have to go through another round of treatment and if it didn’t work, she would make her peace with the situation. This past Friday night I got an update from her. Her oncologist deemed her cancer…wait for it…in remission. I haven’t spoken with her yet, but I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug known to humans when I see her next.

Though this post is not to say that she’s not my hero simply to have endured all of that alone. It is amazing that one would have to go through that much treatment. I can’t even fathom it as the most I’ve been in the hospital is 40ish hours after the birth of my son. 

Justina is my hero because of her strength, faith and courage. Throughout this journey of her’s she stood up and faced this horrifying situation with steel armor. It may have some dings and nicks in it now, but those war wounds are nothing. She has resolved throughout that she will not be a victim, that she will deal with each curveball as it comes.

She is also my hero because  of her friendship. She is one of the best friends I have ever had. She has a million friends, easily befriending almost anyone with her sense of humor and easygoing banter. Even with all the other social obligations she has, Justina still is the first to call and check up or to make lunch plans.

The last time we did go to lunch, she hadn’t heard about the first round of IL yet. Even in the midst of all that uncertainty, she was brave and fearless. She inspired me to the depths of my being. She said the one thing that keeps her fighting so hard is her kids and that she just didn’t want to miss anything. She joked that her 4 year old daughter would be getting married that weekend so she didn’t have to.  And there she was, in the middle of this battle, joking around, making me laugh through my tears. That’s Justina – her well is bottomless.

So at the end of lunch, as we were walking out, she said something (I can’t remember what), but I broke into a tap dance in the middle of Cheesecake Factory’s marble tiled dining room. And it made her laugh, really hard. I was so glad to be able to give her back a smidgen of what she’s given me.

This song is my song to her. It fits her to a T.


And because it seems fitting and I love Bette and this song, here’s a little inspiration for you to think about your hero…

 *name changed to protect the innocent

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2009 6:18 pm

    Wow! Justina sounds like a true hero and a fighter for sure. You obviously care about her very deeply and it’s easy to see why. I would like to add my prayers for her continued recovery. Peace and happiness to you as well!

    • Sarita Pagita permalink
      December 20, 2009 7:11 pm

      Thank you so much for adding her continued recovery to your prayers. That is so very kind of you!

  2. December 21, 2009 11:24 am

    Beautiful and touching post about your brave friend. Thank-you so much for sharing her inspiring story with us 🙂 Best wishes to her and to you!

  3. Alana permalink
    December 31, 2009 12:14 am

    This is heart-wrenching and inspiring. I too will hold her in my thoughts. She sounds like the kind of friend every girl wants.

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