“Life is just what happens to you, while your busy making other plans.” Such words were never so true, Mr. Lennon.
Last year I transitioned from the golf industry to pharmaceutical manufacturing. After 18 years in golf, I was used to people with PGA following their names, not PhD. I dealt with companies like Titleist, Ping, and Callaway. Now I was learning about Bosch, IMA and MG America among others. It was a lot to learn in the few months prior to my first INTERPHEX but I made it through and continue to learn more about the industry.
After the Show, I was in need of a vacation so I headed to Phoenix to visit friends and play some golf. I didn’t wear my watch and I didn’t check my blackberry – I am pleased to report that the world did not come to an end. My golf game was a different story.
The flight home was equally relaxing. I took advantage of the extra legroom (even at 5’4”, I feel cramped on some of these planes), read an entire book, listened to my IPod and gazed out into the night sky and the earth below sprinkled with light as the sun set in the background. It was wonderful.
As the plane landed at JFK, I was more relaxed than I had been in months. I pulled my phone out of my bag to call our car service and was shocked to have several voicemails and text messages. Suddenly, I was no longer relaxed and became scared. That’s pretty much all I remember other than my sister telling me over the phone that Mom had breast cancer. To this day, I remember it in slow motion and can feel the ache in my chest as I listen to my sister tell me what was discovered while I was on the plane. This was a game changer and not in my mother’s plans.
My mother, a hospice nurse was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer and lymphoma. I still can’t believe it as I type this.
The following day, she had more tests – the first of many. If you are ever in this situation, and I pray that you are not, this is the worst part. The waiting. The not knowing.
We visited many doctor’s offices and hospitals to meet with the team of doctors that were diagnosing Mom’s condition and mapping out her treatment. While she was in with the doctors, I sat nervously in waiting rooms reading outdated magazines, posters and pamphlets describing medical conditions and treatments that were now all too familiar. However, so were the companies and medications they were promoting.
I recognized them as the people I was meeting through our show and association events. They were faces and names to our customers. They were now the “people” who were helping to save my mother’s life and make her more comfortable during her treatments – a double mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation. Suddenly, the changes in my life were starting to make sense.
I am happy to say that my Mom has come through this with incredible strength and grace. After losing her hair, she has just had her first haircut! Her last radiation treatment is this Tuesday before she gets her port taken out. She made it.
This journey has been the scariest of my life. We have met some incredible people along the way who helped my Mom get through all of this – the doctors, the nurses and the amazing women who make up the sisterhood of breast cancer survivors.
For those of you reading this who play a role in drug manufacturing, thank you. When you are having a long day at work, please know that people like me are very grateful for what you do. My mother is alive because of what you do. You helped make her more comfortable throughout her treatments. You kept her from getting sick after chemo. You helped her sleep. I am grateful for all of it.
So, if you see me in the aisles at INTERPHEX, I hope you will stop me so I can thank you in person.
Barbara McAuliffe is the Marketing Director for INTERPHEX. Follow her on Twitter @INTERPHEX_Barb or contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org