Annika Wick started to cry when she recalled the words her college friend Greta Frank — who died of cancer in April — wrote in her journal.
"She said I was going to be the most wonderful nurse. And I knew then for sure I wanted to work with oncology patients," said Wick, a 2000 graduate of St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. "They are the most wonderful people, and I haven't regretted it for a minute."
Wick's life was changed forever when Frank was diagnosed with cancer. While still fighting her illness, Frank, Wick and several other friends decided to petition for one of the school's honor houses. Students in this program live in a group home and spend the year creating fund-raising projects.
Frank didn't survive to participate, but Wick and 10 others in the house raised nearly $75,000 for the American Cancer Society through a "Relay for Life" held in her honor.
"For me seeing these people come together and dedicate their time for that evening, and to remember those who have either lost their lives or who have experienced this dreadful disease was the most touching part," Wick said.
During the evening-long marathon, sponsored teams walked around a track. The relay was one of several projects for the honor house residents, who also worked to raise awareness for breast cancer and participated in the Great American Smokeout.
"We dedicated it all to our friend," said Wick, a member of Grace Lutheran Church, Woodstock, Ill., where her father, Lawrence W. Wick, is pastor. Everything we did, we kept Greta in our minds." Frank's parents are members of Edina [Minn.] Community Lutheran Church.
Wick says the experience has helped her with her nursing duties at Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis: "In my line of work, it's important to have had that experience. If you don't know how you feel about death, you can't do this job."
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers