On a typical day in 2009, Janice Kruglick turns on her TV as she starts to prepare dinner. It's a nightly routine that she doesn’t think twice about until she hears a reporter mention a familiar name: “At age 46, Shari Baker was given what amounted to a death sentence…,” says the reporter, on 3TV in Phoenix. “She was told to get her affairs in order.”
“Shari Baker?!” thinks Janice, nearly dropping her plate. She and Shari had been close friends when they lived in the same community, but they lost touch when Shari got divorced and hadn’t seen each other in 18 years. She’s shocked to learn that Shari has breast cancer, but as the news story plays on, realizes that Shari participated in a clinical trial study that might be keeping her in remission.
Janice sets about trying to find Shari, but before she can succeed, her phone rings with a blast from the past. Coincidentally, Shari had also wanted to reconnect with Janice, a considerably easier task, since Janice and her twin sister, Jacqueline, have a website for their Twin Acres School of Riding. In fact, Janice taught Shari how to ride horses 20 years earlier.
When the two girlfriends get together for an emotional reunion lunch, Janice gives Shari a ‘friendship’ ring, the Heart & Scroll band from the Brighton Collectibles in Kierland Commons. Shari tells Janice about her journey with cancer, which completely changed her life’s focus.
In 2005, Shari was an asset manager for Prudential Relocation when she was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer that had spread to her spine. After traditional treatments, she showed no evidence of disease, but sought out a clinical trial study at the University of Washington in Seattle, hoping that it would keep her in remission. Once a month for six months in 2006, she traveled to UW to receive injections of a potential “cancer vaccine.”
She has remained disease-free ever since. “Only God can tell us why I’m still in remission,” she says in the 3TV story in 2009, “but I really do believe it’s from the vaccine.”
She began organizing fundraisers to support the International Cancer Advocacy Network (ICAN), the nonprofit program that referred her to the clinical trial. At the same time, she started to pursue her longstanding passion for jewelry design and eventually left her job at Prudential in 2010 to design and fundraise full time. Two of her closest friends and fellow cancer survivors, Cathy Partin and Lisa Brus, helped her launch Pursuit, hoping the company will be able to support ICAN and clinical trials through the sale of Shari’s custom jewelry.
For her efforts, ICAN has created a breast cancer funding program in Shari’s name. Dr. Lupe Salazar, who treated Shari at UW, calls her “a wonderful advocate with an energetic, positive outlook on life.”
Firmly believing that health requires happiness, and that happiness comes from within, she embarked on a whole new regimen of exercise, healthy eating and yoga. She also meditates every day at sunset, while listening to the melodies of bagpipes wafting over to her home from the nearby Westin Kierland Resort & Spa.
Now that they’re in touch again, she and Janice see each other often, sometimes during a “girlfriends lunch” that she organizes once a month with her best friends. It’s all in an effort to pursue happiness now rather than later. “You can say, ‘One of these days…’ forever,” she says. “Live life in the moment. Nothing is impossible. Appreciate your blessings.”