Liz has taught me everything without purposefully meaning to teach me anything. She has taught me how to advocate for myself in a powerful way – by simply, being myself. She has also taught me about science and policy, about clinical trials and chemo parity in the process. She is the person I would have wanted to be friends with in college but would have been too busy studying to meet.
We pull each other up and propel each other forward in everything that we do. She thinks of the little details that make all the difference (Harvey Milk postage stamps). We talk about when we die. We talk about what that might mean – for ourselves, for our friends, for our families and for our partners. We wonder together. We wonder about science, about research, and about protein powder. She calls me out when I take screen shots during our Google Hangout sessions. Whether she knows it or not, she is an anchor in my life. She learns about other communities and educates her co-workers for me – she’s a full-time ally. Her web design skills are incredible. She’s my friend, my cool aunt, my mentor, and my role model all wrapped into one. She believes in and she understands me. She hates how I text in sentences and hit send each time instead of sending paragraphs with all of my thoughts at once. She believes in me, and she has since 2012 (check out these throwback tweets):
I was commenting on a post explaining how the brain tumor community has very few leaders, and was in the middle of making the point of how when Liz dies, our community will suffer a huge loss. But I stopped in the middle of my thought pattern. What will I do when Liz dies? It hit me. What do you do when someone who pretty much means everything to you without even meaning to is gone? We don’t talk every day or even necessarily every week, but we are connected. We just know what is going on with one another because we are a part of one another, because we have lived parts of each other’s lives. I don’t have an answer to that question yet, and I hope that I won’t need to have an answer for it any time soon.
I’ve talked Liz through a simple-partial seizure over the phone before. It happened about a month ago, actually. We were both extremely excited and talking about how great a phone call had gone between one of her co-workers and I, and the extreme excitement literally gave her a seizure. She started describing it to me and instead of listening I started talking to her about the homemade lasagna I was eating. I asked the right questions, made sure that she didn’t drive, etc., but talked to her about lasagna instead of the seizure. That was my way of helping. Liz was alone and didn’t have any of the medication that she needed with her, so I told her about my lasagna until someone else arrived to try and distract her. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to ever eat lasagna again now. Then, a few weeks ago, I had a seizure at the gym. Naturally, I texted Liz about how weird it was that we had both had gym-seizures. That’s just what we do. We have gym-seizures and we tell each other about them. It’s just another day in our lives, I guess.
Liz helped me realize that it was going to be ok when it wasn’t. When we first met in person in March of 2015 it was like seeing an old friend for dinner. Because that’s what it was, really. We had talked on Twitter, texted, and Skyped for three years at that point. We got dinner while she was in town for spring training with her husband Brett. She designed the #BTSM Chat logo with the orange theme color because she loves the San Francisco Giants, and even though orange is my least favorite color, I signed off on it. I hate baseball, but Liz loves it. Liz was in a punk rock band in college, and that’s, well, that last thing that I would ever do. We are so different and yet we are so much the same. We just get each other.
Relationships like these form once in a lifetime.
Happy birthday, Liz.