Lisa Dunn and Vanessa De Caria met 14 years ago and their connection was immediate.
“It’s that authenticity about Lisa’s personality, the realness about her,” De Caria said.
“At the time, we were both executives. It’s hard enough as women, just all the things we go through — but I could just identify with Lisa.”
Two best friends living on the same street, their children growing up together – it is a true friendship. It is a friendship that has endured the highs and the lows, like divorce, and now, the devastating diagnosis of cancer.
“I had a scare myself, “ De Caria said. “I fought it. I won that battle. Now Lisa, she’s struggling, she has stage 4 cervical cancer. Lisa was given a year to live and it’s heartbreaking. She’s so young. She’s just 50 years old.”
As a single mom, Dunn’s biggest concern hasn’t been for herself, but for the future of her children – Taylor, 16, and Josh, 10.
“Those kids are lovely. They’re genuine. They don’t ask for anything, they’re very gracious about life. They have an incredible bond with their mom,” De Caria said.
“But because I feel we’re aligned, I hope I can fill some of that void for them and give them an unconditionally, loving home to grow up in when Lisa’s not there.”
De Caria too is fighting hard to stay strong – not only for Dunn, but for her children and the home they will eventually move into with her, her husband and their three children.
“I try to coach Vanessa through some of those challenges. To make sure that she stays strong in those challenges outside of the gym,” said Atif Khedri, coach and owner of AK Fitness.
Two women that were destined to become friends are looking at the future differently now and because of this, family and friends — including the clients from AK Fitness — have rallied around them to offer support.
“We were able to raise $5,300 from our Christmas party,” Khedri said.
“That showed we are a strong community here – not just a gym.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Taylor, Josh and the De Caria’s as they face this difficult journey together.