My EO Saving Grace
Our struggle had been ongoing for some time, but in one day my entire life turned upside down. My wife, Janelle, had been ill for a year with metastatic melanoma, which had spread rapidly throughout her body. I got a call from the doctor. Janelle’s life-threatening illness was so progressed that she was only given two or three weeks to live. She was 37.
I felt paralysed. What could I possibly do? Fighting frustration, the “why us?” syndrome and the feeling of soon being alone, I turned to EO, my relatively new support group, for assistance. I shared my story with our Forum Moderator, who accessed the member network. The response from EO members to assist me in this time of need was overwhelming, to say the least.
For example, EO Perth raised money to help hire care for Janelle, nannies for our two children and gardeners to keep our home, as well as pay for flights for my family to be with me after Janelle’s passing. Janelle’s passing ... I still couldn’t believe the diagnosis. Instead of looking forward to a long life raising our 4- and 6-year-old kids, we were now faced with the harsh reality that I would be doing it alone.
Another great sadness loomed over us. Janelle was very close to her grandparents, but her visits with them were few and far in between. The sad reality was that they lived too far away for one final visit. They were in their 90s, had never traveled on an airplane before and had no way of getting to Perth to say goodbye. I couldn’t beat the illness for Janelle, but at least I could try to get her in touch with her grandparents before the end.
Grasping at straws, I called Paul Claesson, a colleague and EO friend. He immediately contacted a member in Melbourne, and in one day they enlisted the support of local members to coordinate a video conference between Janelle and her grandparents. Janelle could attend the session in the hospital’s auditorium, while her grandparents could be transported to a nearby facility.
With help from EO chapters throughout Australia, all of the plans were in place. I could not have managed this momentous event without EO. Even though Janelle was only strong enough for a 10-minute video chat, being able to see her beloved family one more time meant the world to her. And her grandparents still talk about how special those few moments were.
Although we are business colleagues, I know I can trust my fellow EO mates to go out of their way to aid a fellow member, and I will forever be in their debt. That’s the power of our organisation— we don’t just have strength of skill, we have strength of character.
Leigh McDonald is the technical director of Leap Consulting. E-mail Leigh at