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Knowledge Is Good: Dedicated to Nancy Prater, 1962 – 1999

September 1, 2009

Help me spread the wordToday’s post will not be a funny one, but I hope you’ll bear with me and read it anyway.  This is a very contemplative time of year for me, and I’ll explain why in just a bit.  Right now, I have something important to tell you and even if you’ve heard the message before, I’m hoping you’ll take it to heart and help spread the word. I’ll be getting back to the snark and tomfoolery next time, I promise.

I love Autumn.  It’s one of my favorite times of the year.  The weather is crisp and beautiful, and it serves to energize me.  My kids go back to school, and I’m sure I’m not alone in appreciating the beauty of a busy, engaged child.  My work tends to pick up, which is always a great thing.  But I woke up this morning with the realization that the season itself is forever colored for me now by loss.  This morning I realized that next month is the tenth anniversary of the day I lost my best friend.

Nancy and I met when we both worked for Burson-Marsteller, a large public relations firm in New York.  She was an account executive and I worked in the Strategic Guessing department.  We only worked on one account together, but we quickly developed the kind of bond that transcended ordinary conversation.  Most of what I remember now about being with Nancy is the raucous laughter, but it got us through a lot, including lay-offs, the loss of a parent, a cavalcade of illnesses, and the end of a marriage.

Eventually, Nancy moved to the West Coast for a chance to be closer to her family and to make a fresh start.  We missed each other terribly, but kept up with regular phone calls and visits funded by our mutual companies during business trips.  She rose to prominence as a senior executive at a manufacturing firm.  I took time off from the business world to start a family and mull over eventual career options that didn’t include selling sugar to kids.

When the phone rang one night as I was cleaning up, I was happy to hear my friend’s voice on the line.

“Guess what?”, she began, “I’m in New York.  Wanna come out and play?”

“That’s awesome!  Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?”

“It was kind of spur of the moment.  I have something to tell you…”  Her voice trailed off.  “I have cancer.”


“Oh my God, Nancy.  How are you?  What’s your prognosis?”

“It’s not good…”

Through self-examination, Nancy had discovered a lump in her breast, but because her roll of the dice wasn’t good, the cancer had metastasized throughout her lungs, her spine, and eventually her brain.  She was gone in less than a year.  I still think about her every day.

So why am I telling you all this?

Because you can help make someone else’s journey easier, and I promise you it won’t cost you a thing.  If you look at the upper right hand side of this blog, you will see a new button I’ve added by a company called Social Vibe that helps support a variety of causes.  In honor of my friend Nancy, as well as other friends who have had to make this journey, I’ve chosen to support the Keep A Breast foundation, which, in conjunction with Sprint, helps provide education about breast self-examination and early detection.  All that is required of you is to click on the button, watch a short video of a commercial and rate it on a 1- to 5-star basis.  You will then be asked to leave your name (first names only are fine) and a comment, which can be something as innocuous as “Keep up the great work!”  For every click, Sprint will donate money to help educate women about the benefits of early detection and keeping on top of our breast health.

In the 1978 movie “Animal House”, one scene that never fails to make me laugh is a totally throw-away shot of a statue of Faber College’s founder.  Below the statue is a plaque that says, “Knowledge is good”.  Reductio ad absurdum at its best, and I couldn’t agree more.

Please help.  Do it for yourself, if you are a woman.  Do it for your wife.  Do it for your daughter, your sisters, your mother and your grandmother.  Do it for your best friend.

And if that’s not a good enough reason, do it for Nancy.  If she was around, she’d do it for you.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Carolyn A.-B. permalink
    December 24, 2009 11:01 AM

    What a wonderful tribute to your friend. Thanks for writing it. I’m searching for that click button now.

    • Deb permalink*
      December 24, 2009 9:42 PM

      Thank you Carolyn. Unfortunately, I changed my template after I wrote this piece and the current template no longer supports that application. I’m hoping people who read this will find their own good causes to support, however. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Kevin permalink
    September 18, 2009 10:35 PM

    I’ll click. My daughter and I did the Komen walk last year, and have several friends who have been diagnosed. I don’t want to get that call from any more of them.
    I’ll click.

  3. September 1, 2009 9:03 PM

    Also, if you’re over 40, get regular (annual) mammograms. My mom slacked off but was lucky that all they found was a cyst.

  4. Christine permalink
    September 1, 2009 2:50 PM

    Each of our lives has been touched in some way by cancer. We can’t change the past, but we can try to change the future … even just one click at a time.

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