I believe if you’ve been watching our work for any time at all you’ve heard us mention Nikki. For those of you who don’t know about our personal relationship with her, please click here and for those of you willing to go a step further and get to know her better, please click here.
As you may or may not know, our good friend passed away this last Saturday the 12th, leaving behind many broken hearted people – including Roger and I. Life sometimes isn’t fair, but if you knew Nikki you’d know that she wouldn’t let you dwell in that. She’d tell you there is a bigger purpose and to live life to it’s fullest. She tell you “it’s not the cards you are dealt, it’s how you play the game.”
In order for me to make sense of how cancer could take such a beautiful young woman – I’m forced to embrace her way of life and adopt it as my own. To get busy LIVING. To appreciate, to be thankful, and to be the best me that I can. To stop holding back.
In her honor, will you too embrace her optimistic, hopeful, enthusiastic spirit and wholeheartedly live life with kindness and purpose? I’m asking you to throw a huge middle finger up to cancer by taking in all life has to offer and choosing to not be beat down with the trivial aspects of life that consume us. Celebrate life. Period.
Nikki shared her personal love story back in 2009 after entering a contest at the Gateway Center bridal show. Her story got her in the top 3 – but her effervescent spirit got more than 500 people from all walks of life to share their story and vote for them. For anyone out there who wants a true love story, for those of you planning an upcoming wedding, or for those of you who are lucky enough to have known true love – please enjoy Nikki & Tom’s Story…
“For better or for worse-a vow most couples have only really seen one side of when they eagerly commit to each other on their wedding day. No one ever plans for that “worse” side of the “better.” When I first met Tom six years ago on my 21st birthday, neither of us could have ever foreseen the wonderful, and yet tumultuous road ahead of us.
Tom and I have shared a million wonderful experiences together; we’ve traveled together, and celebrated together. In many ways we’ve become adults together, finishing college, searching for careers and finding a life together. He is my best friend, and a wonderful man. I can’t imagine my life without him. However I’m inclined to believe that the true test of a lasting relationship isn’t how amazing it is when things are good, but rather how two people come together when things are bad.
Tom was holding my hand a year and a half ago when the doctor came into my hospital room to tell me that at the age of 25 I had cancer. I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, and the outlook did not look good. He looked at me and said, “We can beat this.” Tom was by my side through debilitating rounds of chemotherapy that left me weak and extremely sick. When he couldn’t be with me because of his job, he would sit on the phone with me for hours until I was able to fall asleep. He held me when I cried, and told me every day how beautiful I was despite the fact I no longer had hair. He was at the hospital with me through a rough surgery, and he celebrated with me when I was told the cancer was gone. Two short months later, he cried with me when we found out the cancer was back. He was by my side through another difficult surgery, and when I was admitted to the hospital for a month to undergo high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant, he slept next to my hospital bed every night. He held me tight and told me not to give up when we found out these did not work, and the cancer had spread.
Through much of this we had been working to plan a June 2009 wedding, a goal that kept me focused on getting past all this. While in the hospital I surrounded myself with bridal magazines and we dreamed about all the details we wanted, all the time knowing how uncertain the future really is. After much talk, Tom and I decided that while we still wanted to work toward our June wedding, we also wanted to spend as much time as we could as husband and wife. We eloped in September, one day before the 6 year anniversary of our first meeting. We decided to keep our June date, but if we’ve learned anything it’s that life is unpredictable. It is very important to us to celebrate our love with all of our family and friends in June, and we are still excitedly planning our wedding.
In July I started a new kind of chemotherapy. By October we were seeing wonderful results. Tom was by my side December 9th when I had my very last round of this new treatment. I left the hospital cancer free, and in remission. We have no idea what the future will hold, but we do know how strong our love is for one another. We’ve battled through the “worse” and we are cherishing the “better.” We are counting down the days to our wedding in June, and hopefully a long life together.”
Squeeze the people you love extra, tell the people who need to hear you love them how you feel, and please live life to it’s fullest. Let’s make sense of the thing called life together…