I remember Sally mostly for her spunky personality. She was a year behind me at Washington High School, and she always brought her big smile and her ready laugh to our choir rehearsals and performances. If I’d been her socially awkward sitcom boss, she would have been my wise-cracking sitcom secretary. And she would have gotten all the fan mail. But though I really liked her, I don’t recall us ever hanging out much beyond cast parties and group trips to Donutland after our show choir finished rehearsing on Monday nights.
I graduated in 1986 and came back the next few years to choreograph for the show choir, but aside from seeing her there, I can honestly say Sally hadn’t entered my mind since probably some time in college.
Sally’s class had its 20th reunion in July, and I emailed my friend Reed afterward to get his full report. He told me the gossip I was hoping to hear about people I hadn’t seen in 20 years—who was married and divorced and gay and probably gay and who had blossomed and who was still hot—and then he said that Sally had been there, looking weak and frail and bald. And that she was struggling against some form of cancer.
A couple days later, my sister—who was two years behind Sally’s class but who is more connected in the Cedar Rapids mom network than I am—sent me an email filling in the details:
Four years ago, Sally had been diagnosed with a rare and extremely aggressive form of breast cancer. Her case was so advanced by the time it was caught that it had already spread to other parts of her body. She had been given about two years to live at the time, but she’d been fighting it so aggressively that she was able to walk into her 20th reunion two years after she was supposed to be dead. But she’d been so sick, she hadn’t been able to work and was forced to go on public assistance. To make matters worse, she was raising two boys, ages 7 and 5, on her own.
Her classmates were so moved by her plight and the plight of her boys that they set up a web site to tell Sally’s story and collect donations on her behalf. The site promises that Sally and her boys will receive 100% of any donations made, though it looks like there is a 1% added fee collected by myevent.com, which hosts the site.
Again, I haven’t seen Sally in 20 years, but I know she’s real and I worry about her and her boys. I just made a donation. And I know there’s no tax incentive or stuffed bear in it for all you strangers out there, but here’s the link if you want to make a donation too:
Friends of Sally