Her name was Sarah Jo Schoger, but everyone called her Jody. I remember the first time I met her at my mother’s office. This tiny woman was talking about deer hunting with such enthusiasm that it took me back. She had a laugh that moved the room.
I’m not sure how I became friends with her, but it happened quickly. Jody had a unique way of making you feel magical, full of potential. She used to grab a yellow legal pad and take notes during our conversations — then suggest follow-up readings or groups to look into, all tangential topics based on something I said. Even though I was about 28 years her junior, she treated me as a colleague, took my writing and process seriously and was always willing to discuss my current projects and daydreams.
When I was in high school, Jody was diagnosed with breast cancer — and I was a frequent visitor to her home my junior and senior year while she went through chemo. She talked to me about all of her treatment options. She took off her wig around me. She was weak and tired and could barely eat, but she would still share a recipe, have a cup of coffee and chat. She seemed unstoppable and stronger to me than anyone, even in her most difficult moments.
We lost a mutual friend to colon cancer shortly after I left to college. I remember crying about it while I was on a date at the movies — then meeting with Jody to talk about it.
Jody went into remission. She became symbolic of beating the odds to me. When other women I knew were diagnosed with breast cancer, I used her story to boost hope.
And that’s why it felt crushing to find out, after 15 years of being cancer-free, that Jody discovered that it came back.
Today at her funeral, her sister Megan McCready said she doesn’t like when people say “battle with cancer.”
“As if it were a fair fight,” Megan said.
Cancer is not fair — nor does it follow any rules. No rhyme or reason to whom it infects. Still, Megan said, if you want to think of cancer as something to battle, Jody would be a warrior.
And she was. She was also an inspiration to all of the women whom she helped with the online community that she co-founded http://www.bcsm.org.
She was a light for the teenage girl I once was too. She made me believe in myself.
And I hope that other women will follow in her footsteps — generously giving, carefully listening and eagerly and openly loving.
Memorials for Jody may be sent to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center — https://mdanderson.org. Scroll to “Give Now” and designate “In Memory of” Sarah Schoger. Checks may also be mailed to M.D. Anderson/P.O. Box 4486/ Houston, TX 77210.
To read more about Jody and her amazing advocacy, check out: