Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

I've known Lizbeth Frazer-Fatig since I was in middle school.  My mother was lucky enough to work with her at Barnhart Elementary School in Waldorf, Maryland.  Back then, Lizbeth was just one of the many caring teachers that Mom worked with who took the time to say hi to me whenever I visited.  Imagine  my surprise when almost ten years later, that same smiling face walked up to re-introduce herself to me and welcome me to my new job at North Point High School.  I never could have known what kind of friend Lizbeth would turn out to be and how much I would come to depend on her during my time as a teacher.  

Now if you know Lizbeth, you know that she has many moods.  There's happy Liz, hyper Liz, raunchy Liz, fired-up Liz, and compassionate Liz.  But no matter how much time you spend around her, you will rarely ever see quiet or sad Liz.  Every day I went into work, I knew I'd be greeted with "Hi Em!" and some entertaining story of what Colleen and Argyle had done the night before, where Curtis was travelling, what jerk had cut her off on her drive to work this morning, or how she was going handle a particularly challenging student that day.  

Watching Lizbeth work the halls of NPHS was truly inspirational.  Mostly because she could strike fear into the heart of a ne'er do well gum chewer while simultaneously giving a hug to one of the many students who loved her dearly.  Everyone there knew that she was there for one reason alone:  her students.  If it wasn't good for her students, you would hear about it.  If you did wrong by her students, you would most definitely hear about it.  And if you want to know what loving your job so much that sometimes it hurts looks like, I can tell you.  Those rare occasions I saw quiet or sad Liz?  They were almost always because she felt like she wasn't doing everything she could to help one of her children.  I can personally attest to the fact that there wasn't a damn thing this woman wasn't doing for those kids, but no matter what, she always wanted to do more. She's like that with her family and her friends (who might as well be her family in her eyes) as well.  She is just that kind of person.  

I could really and truly go on with stories of Lizbeth (mostly all good, some that I know I'm not allowed to tell for fear of long-distance retribution, Sooner style :) ), but for now I'll tell you about a day this past summer.  Lizbeth and I had spent the last two months consoling each other over the loss of our dogs to cancer, and as always she was a complete rock when I needed someone who understood exactly what I was going through (she always seemed to know).  

I knew she hadn't been feeling well for awhile, but hadn't been able to visit because I'd been travelling.  She was scheduled to get tests done, and I knew she was really nervous.  I tried to assure her that the doctors were just using an abundance of caution and that she had nothing to worry about.  She worked out regularly, ate extremely well (often putting me to shame during our shared lunch times at school), and didn't get sick very often considering how much time she spent around germy students.

The day she got her test results back, I got a Facebook message explaining that what I had so optimistically told her not to worry about was exactly what was happening.  The doctors had found masses on her ovary, liver and lungs.  I went over to see her, and was met with the same matter-of-fact attitude that I had come to know and adore from her.  She was packing for Oklahoma to go be with her family, and yes of course she would like me to come over tomorrow and help.  That night, I sat with my friend and watched her step gracefully forward into her new reality.

Fast forward a few months, rounds of chemo, a new "hair" do, hundreds of letters, Facebook posts, text messages and emails from friends, and Lizbeth is fighting on as we knew she would be.  For those of us that know Lizbeth personally, I think we can all agree that if anyone is going to beat cancer, it's going to be her.  She's too damn feisty to let anything get in her way (and if you've ever been on the phone with her while she's driving, you know what I'm talking about).  

Lizbeth is doing her part to beat this disease, which is why I decided it was time to do mine.  Before I try to convince you to give up your hard earned money to support this cause, I want you to know some facts about ovarian cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control:

-There is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer
-There is no simple and reliable way to screen for ovarian cancer
-Each year, over 20,000 women in the United States alone will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer
-There is no known cure for ovarian cancer

Please visit the CDC website for more information on symptoms and facts about ovarian cancer

Here's the good news.  There are men and women out there working hard to make this disease disappear for good.  That is why I'm supporting the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund by running the USA Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (yup, all 26.2 miles) in Washington, D.C. on March 16, 2013.  My fundraising goal is $5,000, which is completely possible with your support.  I will be doing this in Lizbeth's honor, to recognize the amazing and inspirational journey that she is on and to let her know that we are all right there with her and will always be there to support her. 

If you're wondering what your donation will go towards, here is what the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund does.  It supports research:

     • to find better tests that can diagnose ovarian cancer earlier and more precisely, 
     • to understand what causes ovarian cancer, and
     • to develop improved treatments. 

Please read more about what this organization does at their website,

Take a minute to ask yourself what Lizbeth has meant to you.  Did she offer you support in your first (or second, or tenth) year of teaching?  Did she help out one of your own kids on their journey through school?  Did she call you on your birthday or just send you a text that said "I love you"?  Did she post a picture on Facebook that made your day?  Well now is your chance to say thank you for being a special person in your life.  Please show Lizbeth your support by donating to the OCRF on my page, 
Every day I'll update you on our fundraising efforts, my running adventures, more information about ovarian cancer and what's being done to stop it in its tracks, and of course our friend Lizbeth.  
Make a donation today (you could be first!!) and then pass this story on to a friend.  Help me raise $5,000 by March 16 to help towards our common goal of getting rid of ovarian cancer!  

And by the way, I've already logged 10 "official" miles since Sunday, just in case you think I'm not serious about this whole "kicking cancer's butt via marathoning" thing :).  

Peace and love, 

My Ovarian Cancer Research Fund fundraising page

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