NEW CASTLE —
LIVING THEIR LIVES
Although she had to take a leave of absence from her jobs in the cafeteria at George Washington Intermediate Elementary School and the GAP Outlet in Grove City, Jackie forged ahead for as long as she could, cooking, cleaning and shuttling the boys to their various school activities.
“We decided to live our lives in as normal a way as possible,” Harold said. “When she needed to sit down, she sat down. We decided not to let cancer defeat us.”
Ethan and Isaiah, who share Harold’s and Jackie’s outgoing, fun-loving personalities, rallied around their mom, as did Lacey, the family’s 9-year-old collie mix.
“For months before I was diagnosed, Lacey would not leave my side,” Jackie said as the dog nuzzled her way in for some attention. “She would sit by me and cry and she had never done that before. We actually put her on doggie Prozac, thinking she had an anxiety disorder.
“It turned out that Lacey knew something was wrong before any of the rest of us did.”
Jackie lost all of the hair on her body after her second chemotherapy treatment and hit her lowest point between her fourth and fifth. Her blood counts dropped dangerously and at one point, she passed out at home.
THE SUPPORT SYSTEM
While Jackie was fighting the greatest battle of her life, people by the hundreds were rallying around the Taylor family.
Her best friend of 20 years, Bobbi Tillia, led the charge, setting up a “Prayer Warriors” page on Facebook, where friends, family and people the Taylors never had heard of — some from as far away as Australia, Canada, Germany and the Philippines — joined in to offer prayers and support.
“When I lost my hair one day in the shower, I called Bobbi and said, ‘I forgot to buy a bandana, do you have a bandana I can wear?’ ”
Within hours, Bobbi dropped off boxes containing dozens of brand-new bandanas and scarves.
Another longtime friend, Lorri Smiley, joined forces with takethemameal.com, which provided a stream of hot dinners to the Taylor family for the duration of Jackie’s treatment.
Ethan and Isaiah gave a big thumbs-up to the meals, voting Debbie Peters Tanner’s roast beef and mashed potatoes as the best.
Still another close friend, Robin Session-Cain, helped with rides to and from chemo, as did Jackie’s sister, Carrie Solomon.
“Mostly these people were there for me,” Jackie said. “Your realize in times like these who your true friends really are.”
“The response was overwhelming and humbling,” said Harold, wiping tears from his eyes. “People would anticipate our needs and be there before we even asked. I’d go to a meeting or to pick something up somewhere and someone would stop me and hand me money and say, ‘Here, take this. Get some food for your family. Buy your wife something to make her feel better.’
“People stepped way out of their comfort zone to help us.”