Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When Jacqui Lowe Was Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at Age 24, Her Friends Didn't Stand on the Sidelines; 'Anything for Jacqui'

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

When Jacqui Lowe Was Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer at Age 24, Her Friends Didn't Stand on the Sidelines; 'Anything for Jacqui'

Article excerpt

Byline: CHERIE BLACK

As Jacqui Lowe awoke from her surgery in February, her mother sat by her hospital bed, prepared to give her daughter the news.

The Jacksonville resident had just undergone a complete hysterectomy after being diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer. Chemotherapy treatments would begin in a few months.

Tears briefly appeared in the 24-year-old's eyes as she realized the option of bearing children had been erased.

"Adoption is cool, isn't it, Mom?" she said.

It's that kind of reaction -- an "OK-it's-not-the-greatest-news-but-I-can-live-with-it" kind of attitude -- that has won Lowe legions of friends during her relatively new career as a public relations specialist.

So much so that after hearing of Lowe's diagnosis, the local public relations community rallied together to help by making a list of things people could do for her during her fight against cancer. Many know Lowe from various internships at agencies while she was a student at the University of North Florida, as well as from her new position at Hubbard House.

It was an easy thing to do for most, including Bonnie Upright, executive director of the Otis Smith Kids Foundation. She says she would "do anything for Jacqui."

Upright and several others added their names to a list of "Pledge Resources." It includes buying gift certificates, doing laundry or helping to run errands. But people can also help raise money for Lowe's medical bills and medication, which are being paid for out-of-pocket because she is a new employee and doesn't yet have health insurance. One nausea medication prescription costs $1,200, so Lowe opted not to take it.

"It's hard to explain our attachment to Jacqui in particular," said Mary Harvey, a public relations specialist for a Jacksonville staffing company. "I don't know anyone who has met her who isn't instantly friends with her."

Harvey said the initial idea was to hold a fundraiser, but people kept saying to her, "Tell me what to do and I'll do it." So she started a list and e-mailed it around. It was the kind of e-mail that made its recipients stop and pay attention.

"The list became a dialogue between some of us," said Upright. "[Jacqui's] an old soul, one of those people you just want to be around."

Amy Rankin, a public relations specialist with the Scott-McRae Advertising Group, said she decided to help because she is a 16-year breast cancer survivor. After meeting Lowe, Rankin wrote her a note, sharing her experience and offering encouragement.

"It's important when you have cancer to see survivors and to know somebody is out there," she said.

Lowe's reaction to the outpouring is sincere gratitude. She agreed to the list only if she could donate what she didn't use to others in need.

She also wants to raise awareness of ovarian cancer -- a cancer that typically strikes women older than 55, not healthy 24-year-olds with no family history. …

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