It started in the ‘80s at the University of Utah when a few members of Theta Phi Chapter — Allison Migliaccio, Kim Beattie Miller, Julie Lang, Susie Hitner Funk, Lara Jacobson Wilson, Becky Robson, Jill Hepworth Clark, Laurie Hofmann, Kathi Sjoberg, Kim Deniro Bell, Ann Quesinberry, Susan Stinson Romo and Mary Tenney Welsh — shared a love of Howard Jones, Madonna, David Bowie, Duran Duran and Wham! But what truly brought them together was Tri Delta and the bonds of sisterhood.
Some of them were roommates, either in the sorority house or off campus. They had classes together, studied together and kept up on all the afternoon soap operas together. Over time they all graduated or left school and went their separate ways.
The years passed and there were marriages, kids and divorces, but they never forgot those times they shared in Tri Delta. When Facebook came along, many of them reconnected online, and the miles between them seemed to disappear. Then one day in November 2016, one of their dear sisters, Allison, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer.
Allison was like their modern-day social chair. She was the one that collected everyone’s emails, made a list and sent it to all of them so they could stay in touch. Allison had no family to turn to for support. Her father passed away from cancer when she was in college and her mother had passed away in the years since. Like any Tri Delta living our Purpose, the women rallied around their sister to assist her in every possible way.
SISTERS HELPING SISTERS
One of them took on the task of communicating with all the others and letting them know what was happening. Another made up a schedule of when Allison’s chemo treatments would be. The rest of the sisters checked their calendars and made arrangements to fly out and be with Allison during her treatments and for the following few days after each treatment.
“After my diagnosis, the first thing I remember was I needed to get a wig as my hair was going to come out. I knew wigs weren’t cheap and so started the love and support of the Theta Phi girls,” Allison said.
“Julie Lang set up a GoFundMe site titled ‘Ali’s Getting Wiggy With It’ complete with an 80’s song, ‘Wig’ by the B-52’s, and before I knew it my wig was paid for and so was my insurance deductible.”
Kim Beattie Miller was one of the first sisters to help Allison. Kim, a nurse at Stanford, came down to Long Beach, California, for some of the initial doctor visits to lend moral support and add her knowledge as a medical professional.
“Kim flew from San Francisco, California, for my first meeting with the oncology surgeon. She sat with me as I was told that I needed to do chemo, and she cried with me when they told me I would lose my hair,” Allison said. “She held my hand as the wig specialist shaved my head, popped a wig on and cut it on my head; then we put the top down on my convertible and blasted ‘80s music and all seemed well.”
The treatments and two different rounds of chemo went on for over 12 weeks, but Allison routinely had a Tri Delta sister with her to help her through it.
“Kathi Sjoberg, now a county prosecutor, found time to fly out and take me to Target for supplies,” said Allison. “By the time we left Target, our cart was full of snacks for the house, and to take to the treatment center to share with the other patients. Becky Robson, my sorority big sister, flew in from Salt Lake City, as many did. We went to the beach, watched movies and made succulent gardens for her daughter.
Kim Deniro Bell took me to buy purple MAC lip gloss. Why? Because we felt like it, and to see what the infusion nurses would say. Ann Quesinberry, who I hadn’t seen since the ‘90’s, found out, booked her stay, and wouldn’t even let me pick her up at the airport! She was determined to make me rest and even took my taxes to my accountant.”
Each time Allison would come in for treatment with a different Tri Delta sister, the staff at the cancer center was impressed that she had yet another sister, and friend, there to support her.
With each visit, stories and memories from college were shared, along with discussions about where life had brought the sisters since then. And new memories were created as they laughed and cried together.
“I am overwhelmed by the love and support of my Tri Delta sisters I knew in college,” said Allison.
“I had the best time of my life living through the ‘80s. Who would have imagined some 30 years later I’d be diagnosed with breast cancer, and live through chemo therapy with a weekly dose of Delta Love?”