By Kristi Kelley, Thryv Organics Co-Founder
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Around 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, and sadly, more than 44,000 women lose their lives from the disease each year. Many of us know someone who has been impacted by breast cancer; whether they are mothers, daughters, sisters, friends or loved ones, the disease can devastate many lives. Breast cancer awareness is a cause that’s especially close to our hearts. So as we go into Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought it would be fitting to tell you about my best friend Monique, aka Monkey, aka Wife. (I’ll get to that in a bit.)
The first time I ever met Monique was at a Susan G. Komen event in Dallas. I worked with her sister Melanie at the time, and one day Melanie asked if I would like to meet her at a local mall for a Susan G. Komen 5K run/walk. She said, “My sister is a runner and talked me into doing it.” So I agreed. When I arrived at the event, Melanie enthusiastically introduced me to her sister, saying “This is my sister Monique. Her nickname is Monkey.”
Months later, Monique came to work at the firm that Melanie and I worked at, and I was the one who trained her for her position on our trading desk. We became instant friends! Monique was always known for bringing people into her circle of friends. She had a good instinct about people, and as soon as she decided someone was worthy, she would start inviting them to all of our group gatherings. To say Monique was the nucleus of our friend group is an understatement. Some of the closest friends I have to this day are because of her.
One thing I loved about Monique was that she made every one of her friends feel like they were her best friend. I’ve never met anyone who so many people called their BEST friend. She had a way of always being interested in the other person and only talked about herself when pushed. It was her super power!
Monique also had a fierce love for animals. Always picking up strays, and even once rescuing a dog who she had seen tied to a tree in someone’s backyard. Yep, she marched right over, untied that dog and took her home. Her name was Maggie, and Monique loved that dog with all of her heart. One time, she rescued a whole litter of puppies then set forth to find each one of them a loving home. People would come by wanting to adopt one of the puppies, and if Monique didn’t like the feeling she got from someone or if they rubbed her the wrong way, she would send them on their way without the puppy they came for.
One of my favorite memories is when we started the nickname “Wife”. Monique’s husband was certified as a wedding officiant and one night, he was practicing for our friend’s upcoming wedding. I was a constant presence in their house back then. We would play games all night, or we would watch our favorite TV shows together -- I was probably over there more than at my own house. On this particular night, he asked Monique and I to act as the wedding couple while he practiced his speech, and at the end, he pronounced us wife and wife. We, as we always did, had a good laugh and enjoyed goofing about it. From that day forward, we referred to each other as “wife”. There were many times where we would joke around and call each other “wife” in front of our husbands. She would always start out a phone call or voicemail with “Hi wife, this is your wife…” It was very endearing and we never stopped enjoying our inside joke.
In 2011, Monique was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer. There had been no history of breast cancer in her family, so this was such a shock and a very hard hit for our tight-knit group of friends and family. I still remember when she broke the news to us at a pool party with our whole group. It was devastating, but we all rallied together around Monique. I went with her to her first oncology appointment, along with her mother and siblings. I went to almost every appointment with her, including her chemo and radiation treatments. Even if it meant taking time off of work, I did it because I never wanted her to feel alone in her battle with this awful illness.
As Monique went through her cancer treatments, it got to the point where it seemed that doctors were running out of options. They proposed she enter a trial for a new breast cancer drug that was being developed. She was hesitant to do it at first, as she wasn’t confident that it would help her much. But in the end, she did participate in the trial because she felt that if she could contribute to the science of finding a cure that could help other women in the future, she it was worth it to her. That’s just the kind of person she was -- always thinking of others.
Sadly, Monique passed away two years after her diagnosis and hard-fought battle at the young age of 47. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her or that something will trigger a wonderful memory of our friendship. And I’m so incredibly grateful for that.
As women, friends, wives, mothers, sisters, we are often working to make the lives of the people we love better, healthier, happier, easier...all the things. As one of Monique’s many best friends, I hope that I was able to make her life better & happier by being one of her many advocates. To honor Monique and the lives that have been impacted by breast cancer, we will be raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation through the month of October. We aim to support breast cancer research and help make an impact like Monique always wanted.
- Kristi Kelley, Co-Founder of Thryv Organics
What a wonderful tribute! Your friendship was amazing. I know you miss her everyday. She was a class A person. Sending hugs your way.
What a lovely and eloquent memoir. Such beautiful descriptions of Monique’s love and giving nature. Many tears were shed as I read through and feel the love pouring out from you Kristi. I hope many will be able to support this cause. Together we can beat this!