Completing A Circle of Hope I was in the midst of a normal work day when the phone rang. “Hello, this is Dr. Lenkey,” I said to the incoming caller. “Hi, this is Prudy Barber.” The voice was vaguely familiar. Struggling to place the name, I was suddenly filled with all of the feelings I ... First Person on the Last Page
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First Person on the Last Page  |   November 01, 2009
Completing A Circle of Hope
Author Notes
  • Laura Lenkey, PhD, CCC-SLP, owns the Abby D Speech and Swallow Center in Petoskey, Mich., and teaches at the University of Toledo in the Speech-Language Pathology Program. Contact her at lauralenk@gmail.com.
    Laura Lenkey, PhD, CCC-SLP, owns the Abby D Speech and Swallow Center in Petoskey, Mich., and teaches at the University of Toledo in the Speech-Language Pathology Program. Contact her at lauralenk@gmail.com.×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Voice Disorders / School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Speech, Voice & Prosody / First Person on the Last Page
First Person on the Last Page   |   November 01, 2009
Completing A Circle of Hope
The ASHA Leader, November 2009, Vol. 14, 35. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14152009.35
The ASHA Leader, November 2009, Vol. 14, 35. doi:10.1044/leader.FPLP.14152009.35
I was in the midst of a normal work day when the phone rang. “Hello, this is Dr. Lenkey,” I said to the incoming caller.
“Hi, this is Prudy Barber.” The voice was vaguely familiar.
Struggling to place the name, I was suddenly filled with all of the feelings I experienced meeting my supervisor on the first day of my external practicum for graduate school. I wondered if there could be more than one Prudy Barber. Prudy had retired to northern Michigan and, to my delight, contacted me after she saw my name published in the local newspaper. She, too, wondered if there could be more than one Laura Lenkey.
Shortly after this call we met for lunch to catch up on the past 27 years. Initially, we both worried about passing the “competency tests”: Did I measure up now as a seasoned clinician? Had she been an adequate supervisor and role model? We laughed.
Just months prior to our reunion, I had been diagnosed and successfully treated for breast cancer. I shared with Prudy the impact it had not only on my personal life, but also on my career. Cancer had become a blessing in a terrifying disguise. On a personal level, it increased my understanding of the need to live one day at a time and trust that life would really be okay. I told Prudy that on a professional level, the experience of having cancer gave me the ability to empathize with my patients who were dealing with their diagnoses. I was able to share compassionately with patients the meaning of the adage, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” Prudy genuinely understood.
We enjoyed our time together and promised to keep in contact. We e-mailed frequently over the next several months. Just over a year later I received another telephone call from Prudy. Her voice was filled with the unmistakable fear and confusion that only a survivor can identify. She, too, had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was so grateful to be able to give back to Prudy what had been given to me during my time of uncertainty.
Much like she had done for me during my practicum so many years ago, I was able to share with her my experience, my strength—and most importantly—my hope. Today, we share an intense gratitude for our health and for the ability to pass on the support we both received.
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November 2009
Volume 14, Issue 15