October is a busy month. As I mentioned last week it?s National Chiropractic Health Month and National Physical Therapy Month.
It?s also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
October the 15th 2011 was a beautiful fall day. It was a Saturday and Dr. Jay and I were at the Virginia Chiropractic Association meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia. Kim was with me and we were enjoying the leaves changing along the James River at the Kingsmill Resort where the meeting was being held. As beautiful as all that was, that Saturday morning would turn out to be one morning when the world of our Sport and Spine Rehab Family was rocked.
My office was the first one you would pass if you were one of the team members at our business office, our Patient Services Center as we call it. It was typical for me to be in my office early so I could beat the traffic on my 50 mile trip from home to work. Tawanda Hackley was our Director of Patient Services and would often stop and come in my office and talk to me before she got started with her day. At some point she began complaining about her arm aching, axillary pain, and being tired. Of course this concerned me and I encouraged her to seek medical attention. She finally did.
The diagnosis was breast cancer.
The good news was the doctors felt this was to be a fairly routine course, with a great prognosis and Tawanda would be back to work probably by July. This was early May.
So we all went about our business counting the days until Tawanda would return.
But July came and went and Tawanda still wasn?t back. It seemed the course wasn?t so routine after all, yet we still remained positive and anticipated her return.
But she still didn?t return and knowing that I was leaving on that Friday in October to go to Williamsburg I went to Georgetown Hospital on Thursday to see Tawanda. No one else was with her and I was happy to have that time with her alone. She knew what was coming and we talked very openly about it.
On that Saturday morning while away I got the call from one of Tawanda?s daughters letting me know she had passed away.
Tawanda was the most tenured of the Sport and Spine Rehab staff and had worked for Dr. Jay from the beginning. I was lucky enough to have worked with her for eleven years. She was a unique individual and had an unbelievable work ethic. She was the matriarch and though most times reluctantly, the patriarch of a wonderful family of kids and grandkids.
At the time I had written something to the staff that included this:
?I had grown used to her coming in the office in the morning, throwing her stuff up on my desk, sighing and saying:
?Kirk I?m so tired? (of course as you know, she always called me ?Kirk?)
Usually, since I had already been up for four or five hours I didn?t feel so sorry for her. We would often take a few minutes to commiserate about kids, babies, kids having babies, grandkids, and moms; sometimes with tears in her eyes, sometimes with tears in mine, and sometimes with tears in both. Most times not solving anything but just deciding we just had to pray about it. Then we would laugh and talk about the day?s business. ?
I miss that.
If you knew Tawanda and knew her well, you loved her. If you knew her but didn?t take the time to really get to know her or if you never had the opportunity, you missed one of life?s true treasures.
We often remember and share stories at the office where she left her mark and set the tone and work ethic. And we always laugh or smile.
I remember Tawanda on this day and during this Breast Cancer Awareness Month as I do others I have known who weren?t survivors. I also remember those know who are survivors, and those who are heroically facing their challenges with breast cancer right now. And I am sure you are too.
Chief Operating Officer
Sport and Spine Rehab