Sharing cancer stories kept friends close
All I can say is thank goodness for The Triton, or I would not have known of the passing of my friend and chef Michelle Dunnette [“Yacht chef maintained positive attitude through cancer battle,” page A3, April issue]. I am still reeling from the news.
When you live out of the Ft. Lauderdale area and live in remote but historical Natchez, Miss., the only way to find out about our industry cohorts is going to boat shows or through your newspaper.
Michelle and I had a special bond. It all started when I was placing crew at Bob Saxon Associates, and I needed a really strong chef for M/Y Aspen Alternative. After placing Michelle, she stayed on that yacht for a very long time, and I could not move her off it. You see, once Michelle committed to anything, she always would establish strong ties to the owner and the crew. She always would become family wherever she worked.
I had not seen her in a while, until Tom and I decided to go to the 2013 Newport Yacht Show. When she saw me, I heard a squeal, turned around and Michelle was putting her arms around me. We both were thrilled to see each other. She said, “I so need to tell you how much you are my hero.”
I was certainly puzzled, until she began to tell me what she had been through in the last couple of years with breast cancer. She knew that I had been through it, but continued to work, and Tom and I even started Taylor’d Yacht Charters while I was still recuperating. Truly, I was no hero. I just needed to work so as not to have to think about my chemo, radiation, surgeries, healing, and recovery.
We talked a long time about each other’s lives, living with cancer and life after cancer. She truly thought she was on her way to being healthy. She was always happy. Now I realize, she is my hero.
I am so upset that I did not know that she had become ill again. I don’t know what I could have done, but I know that I could have at least talked to her, so she would not feel alone. Feeling alone is certainly a negative in having cancer, but thank God, I had Tom. There are so many heroes in our industry who are cancer survivors. I hope Michelle did not feel alone in her last hours.
I apologize if I am going on and on, but writing to you was the only thing I could think of to do to help me grieve for Michelle. She was an incredible, beautiful and selfless person.
I know that when Tom and I go to the Newport Show this year, I will remember where Michelle and I sat and talked, and also the fun and laughter we had in seeing an old friend. I will miss her, and thanks again for letting me know.
Taylor’d Yacht Charters
Gannon’s advice for crew ‘very true’
I have to say, I just read Rob Gannon’s article [“Being a good crew member, a good follower, helps leaders lead,” page A16, April issue] and thought it superb. Uncluttered, straight to the point, very insightful and very true.
Actually, the acceptance and humility aspects are relevant for so many parts of life and run equally well alongside the skills that someone needs for great leadership. A compassionate leader is, to my mind, always the best.
I like the idea that these negate the need for anger and resentment. I hadn’t thought of it this way before but I think this is right, too. Well said. Thank you
Director and Charter specialist
Indigo Bay Yacht Charters