Looking back, Becki Brown, 29, a former cancer patient at Akron Children’s Hospital, wonders if it all wasn’t somehow meant to be.
In 1999, she was 15 and back at Akron Children’s because her osteosarcoma, the most common form of bone cancer, had returned in her upper left lung.
At about the same time, Tim “Josh” Brown became a frequent visitor to Akron Children’s. He was 17 and his best friend, Tom Morneweck, had suffered a relapse of leukemia. It wasn’t long before the three teens became friends and their lives began to weave together into a story that will last a lifetime.
At this point, most of their time together was spent in the hospital as Becki and Tom battled cancer once more. Josh visited almost every night.
Sadly, Tom lost his battle with leukemia.
“It was very difficult,” said Becki, who saw Josh one more time at Tom’s funeral. Although they continued to communicate by email for a time, eventually they went their separate ways.
Then in 2003, Becki, who was now cancer-free, began volunteering at Children’s. Little did she know that Josh had also become a volunteer two years earlier, in honor of his best friend.
Surprisingly, they didn’t recognize each other at first. Josh had grown up and was no longer a high school kid, while Becki was now a healthy, beautiful young woman with dark brown hair.
“I had no idea what color her hair was because when I knew her, she didn’t have any,” said Josh.
Soon they rekindled their old friendship and began spending time together. They had their first official date on Christmas Day 2003 and were married in May 2009.
While they were dating, Becki completed a master’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University. Today she helps others cope with a cancer diagnosis as the supportive care director at Stewart’s Caring Place in Fairlawn, a non-profit organization that provides free support services to those touched by cancer. It’s a position that seems tailor-made for Becki.
“This opportunity is like a dream come true,” said Becki, who’s thrilled she’s able to work with children who can benefit from her own experiences as a childhood cancer survivor.
Josh, now 30, has also pursued a career in healthcare. As patient access supervisor at University Hospitals in Cleveland, he supervises the hospital’s registration staff.
Although she’s no longer a patient, Becki is grateful that Children’s gave her the tools she needed to advocate for her own health as an adult. More important, Becki remains cancer-free.
“A lot of good things have come out of my having cancer,” said Becki. “Not only did I find Josh, but I’ve been able to help other patients cope with their situations, which has been a real blessing.”
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