Ten years ago, when Tera Kiser of Cincinnati, Ohio decided to pop over to Amy Kleiner’s yard so their young daughters could play together, the two women instantly clicked. Since then, they’ve been inseparable best friends — which made Kleiner’s cancer diagnosis this year absolutely devastating.
“When Amy called me to tell me that the test came back positive for cancer, I remember feeling completely helpless,” Kiser tells Babble. “I was afraid of everything she would have to go through.”
Kleiner was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in January, and soon after, she was hit with even more heartbreaking news: She would need a single mastectomy and 20 rounds of chemo administered weekly.
Kleiner tells Babble that while she did just “fine” making it through her five grueling months of treatment, it was obviously a very emotional time.
“I had a really hard time when I first found out that I’d need it,” says Kleiner, “because initially we didn’t think I would.” But, as it sometimes happens when those we love are faced with extreme challenges, Kiser was suddenly struck with the perfect idea to support her friend.
“My heart was grieving for them, but all of a sudden I stopped focusing on the beginning of the treatments and started immediately thinking of the end of [them],” Kiser tells Babble. “Doug [Kleiner’s husband] had never left her side and took her to every appointment … I could just see him pulling in our neighborhood on her last chemo day and everyone who could be waiting for her jumping up and down, a parade of sorts, to celebrate! I am a Christian and I fully believe God gave me that picture to comfort my heart as well as Amy’s.”
So, on Kleiner’s last day of chemo treatments, her good friend decided to make her vision a reality. Setting up a private Facebook event she called “Bye Bye Chemo,” Kiser got as many people on their street as she could to step outside right at the moment when Kleiner was leaving to go to her last treatment, sending her off with celebratory balloons, signs, and hugs!
“I have never been more surprised in my life,” Kleiner tells Babble. “To see so many friends, family and neighbors outside supporting me made me realize how truly blessed I am.”
Kiser told Today that she arranged for each neighbor to hold a balloon and let it go, symbolizing the end of her chemo treatments. Her husband and daughter then gave Kleiner the final four balloons to hold and release herself.
The surprise was certainly a wonderful way to inject a bit of hope into a tough and trying experience, and Kleiner was sure to walk up to every single person who had come out to support her and give them a great big hug.
Yet, despite the enormity of what she has faced, Kleiner focuses on the love she’s been shown along the way. In fact, when asked about her chemo experience, her only reply was that she actually misses the people.
“I took chemo at OHC’s Anderson office and could not be more pleased with my doctors and nurses,” Kleiner tells Babble. “You even make friendships with others getting chemo. You look forward to seeing the same faces week after week. It’s very comforting.”
Among the many people who have supported her, however, Kleiner says she continues to rely heavily on her best friend.
“Tera is like my right arm,” Kleiner tells Babble. “I don’t know what I’d do without her. She has gone above and beyond during this entire experience.”
Our hearts go out to both women, for proving the power of love over all else. Here’s to many more years of friendship!