A few years ago, when I started working at FNB, I met Wendy. At the time I started working, it was Wendy’s last day before she’d be starting her 6months’ maternity leave. I didn’t know her at all and even when she came back, I barely recognized her after she had changed her hairstyle and more obviously, lost most of her pregnancy weight!
Wendy and I started to get to know each other more over the following months just in passing but then I was allocated to her as her “assistant” (and no, an assistant is not a PA – i.t.o. the structure that exists in most private banks, the assistant and the banker work together as a team whereby the assistant does all the “admin” stuff on the deal) and we really started to know each other. We have very similar personalities and so got on like a house on fire from day one of working together. Wendy knew her capabilities and I mine, and I think that we both enjoyed the fact that we made time to have coffees, breakfasts and lunches where we got to know each other more on a personal level and years later, we are still very good friends.
I’ve always admired Wendy as a full time career woman and a mum with a husband who works long hours as a lawyer, but what happened to her a few years ago made me admire her even more. Wendy found a lump in her breast and a little while later, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I clearly remember how she wasn’t afraid to tell people at work what had happened and the reason that she was in tears, unafraid of the stigmatism attached to having cancer. The worst news came after having months (my time line may be wrong here – sorry Wends!) of chemo and losing most of her hair…she had to have a double mastectomy and her doctor recommended her having a hysterectomy as well, as the cancer gene is in her family and is fuelled by oestregen. Wendy bravely had her double mastectomy and at the same time, the doctor put breast implants in. Infection after infection after infection, misshapen breast(s), uneven breast(s) – it seemed like it was just not ending – but Wendy was still at working smiling, visiting clients, carrying on with her life full of energy and even more worried about everybody else’s little worries than her own problems. Just over a month ago, Wendy was booked in for her hysterectomy. I popped in to her house to visit her, and again, other than the little bit of pain she said she was experiencing (probably only one hundredth of how she really felt) she was her same old bubbly self, even taking the time to set the table for our lunch.
I haven’t mentioned that she was diagnosed and went through all this in her early thirties! Often, I wake up and find something wrong with the smallest things in my life – the hot water is not hot enough, I didn’t realize there wasn’t bread for our nanny the night before and so have to rush off in the morning to buy some, a taxi cuts me off in traffic, I have a disagreement with my hubby and it has a knock on effect on everything else…I make a mountain out of a molehill when really, I should be waking up and thanking God every day for the most important gifts that I have…my life, my health, my family. How often do we hit a speed wobble in life and it throws us off completely making us feel like it’s the end of the world, forgetting to look at the blessings that God gives us every single minute of every single day.
Wendy, you are amazing, a true inspiration to women! I wish that I could be as positive as you are in spite of the little speed wobbles I encounter every day. Thanks for the friendship that we have and I hope that after all these surgeries and the stumbling blocks that you’ve gotten over, God blesses you abundantly with good health!! 🙂