Everyone needs a Jennifer

International Day of Friendship marks a day for besties everywhere
July 28, 2017


A photo of Yvette Engel and Jennifer Reid snapping a selfie at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs' spectacular city park.
Besties Yvette Engel and Jennifer Reid snap a selfie at the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs’ spectacular city park.

On Sunday, July 30, as the world joins the United Nations in celebration of International Day of Friendship, we celebrate Yvette Engel and Jennifer Reid.

They’re besties. They met at work in Divide, Colorado, and hit it off from the get-go. They chatted about everything – husbands, kids, best recipes, everything. Work wives.

When Yvette went for a mammogram and found out she needed a biopsy, she called Jennifer, who dropped everything and raced to her side. When the results came, the two grown women cried like babies.

There’s no playbook for getting through cancer, but having a Jennifer is optimal. Over the next months, Jennifer became the keel in Yvette’s boat, the wind in her sail – anchor in the storm.

Jennifer turned the 16 visits for chemotherapy at UCHealth Memorial Hospital into an Adult Girls Day Camp. They always did crafts, read magazines and had little snacks.

One time, after Yvette learned that the Benadryl given to her before treatment made her loopy, she dropped her Teddy Graham cookies into a container of peanut butter and hooted: “Bears in a hot tub!’’

Jennifer Reid and Yvette Engel are photographed behind a craft project, including this painting project of pumpkins
Jennifer Reid and Yvette Engel met at work and became best buds. They have shared in many craft projects, including this painting project.

Jennifer read stories and motivational quotes to Yvette. One day, as the chemo dripped in, she asked Yvette: “What makes your heart flutter?’’

Like any mom with a husband and four kids, the answer was automatic. “Having all my kids together.’’

On weekends, Jennifer made dinner for Yvette and her family. She spoiled her with a delicious meal and always did the dishes. “Don’t move,’’ Jennifer would advise when Yvette tried to help. The skipper knew best.

For the final round of chemo, Jennifer and Yvette and her son, Josh, went to the hospital like Cinderellas at a Pink Ball. They wore pink tutus, boas, cat-eye glasses and wigs. Human glitter in motion.

Yvette and Jennifer cried as the last dose of chemo went in, just as they had for the first round. But after No. 16, the wind seemed to be in their sail as Yvette headed to surgery, followed by rounds of radiation.

Jennifer Reid, Yvette Engel and Yvette’s son, Josh, dress up in wigs and tutus to mark the end of chemotherapy for Yvette
Jennifer Reid, Yvette Engel and Yvette’s son, Josh, dress up in wigs and tutus to mark the end of chemotherapy for Yvette.

Friendship is an unvarnished gift that is not wrapped in ribbons and bows, but in kindness and acceptance and joy for one another.

Yvette says Jennifer is “my person.’’

“There are people that show up in our lives at the right time, help through the bad times and stay for the best of times,’’ Yvette said.

For these two best buds, happy times are ahead. Yvette is cancer-free. With Jennifer at her side, she made it through the storm.

To Yvette and Jennifer – and friends everywhere — happy sails.



About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.