President’s Letter – May 2016

JWoelfel_headshotMy wife’s strength and courage

As many of you know, I am blessed to be married to such a great person; my wife, Chris. She is outgoing, beautiful, a great mom and she is very intelligent. Chris is truly my better half. She is also the major driving force in my creating and reaching my goals.

Last year after Total Solutions Plus, Chris went to get her yearly mammogram. A few weeks later, the radiologist called and said he wanted additional images. When she went in, the images revealed patterns in the film that the doctor said must be biopsied. It wasn’t an easy procedure and it created a massive and painful hematoma that she didn’t need to be dealing with during the holiday season. Between Christmas and New Years the doctor called and told us that Chris had breast cancer. We were stunned. It was denial combined with shock. We met with the surgeon and told a handful of family and friends. My wife, always the steadfast and focused one, told the doctor that we were going to Spain because her husband was going to speak at a world tile conference and she was going to support him and make sure he was successful. The doctor scheduled surgery for the week after we returned.

After four surgeries in four weeks and a week of cutting-edge, highly concentrated radiation therapy delivered through a bio-mechanical device that made a big guy like me cringe at the thought of it being implanted, the medical oncologist now has Chris on a five-year course of medications. We were also told that she may have the same issue in her other breast. All of this has my head spinning. It has been a challenging time, but Chris is proving her resilience, staying positive and focused on the things she needs to do to stay on course and get all of this behind her.

I know that many of you have been touched in one way or another by cancer. It is a horrible and scary disease that attacks people unfairly. We are fortunate that Chris’s was discovered early as other people are not as fortunate. It seems so cliché, but I never thought it would happen to us.

I reached out to people I knew had experience with cancer: Nyle Wadford, whose father died of cancer, Dan Welch whose father just recently passed away, and Bart Bettiga – his wife Sandy was in a similar situation as Chris. They have been so supportive and were there when I needed to talk or vent. I also found out how giving and loving our friends are. Chris received flowers, cards, gifts of comfort and well wishes of support, a true outpouring of love and understanding. People in our industry have given their time and hope so that Chris would feel just a little better.

My wife, always the one offering empathy and concern, did not want a lot of people to know. I have respected her wishes until now. You see, my wife is my hero. She is battling this disease with all of her strength and determination. I have always thought that there is strength in numbers; all of the prayers, positive thoughts and kind words will help her in this battle. As I write this we are preparing for our trip to Coverings. Chris is coming with me and our son, Preston. She looks forward to seeing, talking and being with the best of the best in our industry.

After experiencing this in the last six months I urge each of you reading this to go get your exams. Schedule them now and get the prostate exam, the mammogram, the CT scan – whatever test that can help catch this disease early. We caught it early and it is still a heavyweight fight.

Finally, I want my wife Chris to know that I love you, that Preston loves you and that you are the strongest, bravest and most wonderful person I know.

James Woelfel, President NTCA