The Wendy Gelber
Lung Cancer Research Program

Friends and families share their tributes

It was 1975 and she was 'hot'.
I did not expect that we would be together almost every day forward.
I did not know how much she would teach me about people, relationships, intimacy and family.
I could not have imagined Wendy would still be teaching me about dignity and strength.
And, after 36 years together I would not have guessed that she would still be 'hot'.

Allan Gelber
February 6, 2011

I followed my big sister Wendy everywhere she would let me, she didn't always want me around, but I never gave up. Her dance of grace has inspired many dances of discovery and still she shows me how to face all obstacles with love and good laundry practices. She is a star that lights the way in the dark heart of places so many of us will wander. Bravo big sister, your dance is divine and I love you all up.

Deborah Scharaga
May 8, 2011

I consider Wendy a family member due to our son's deep and constant friendship since they were 12 years old. I met Wendy due to her astute intuition and her NY brazenness that led her to know the boys would be a superb fit for one another and to approach me as a total stranger at a soccer field and suggest we get them together. She was spot on.
I never have to be concerned that Wendy is not being forthright with her perceptions as she just puts it out there and leaves it for others to deal with. I love her honesty and practicality in all matters. I trust her insight.

If I was going to entertain regrets, it would only be that we both didn't capitalize on an active friendship all the years I lived in Phoenix. There was a love & respect but we didn't DO things together. Wendy's cancer diagnosis brought me to attention and I feel I've gotten closer from our writing exchanges than anything else.
I've admired how she's handling her cancer. I always say "she knows how to die better than anyone I've ever known" and made her quality of life soar in spite of what her body is doing. She has been brave and fought hard to continue enjoying all the gifts this life has to offer and Wendy is one of the biggest gifts there is. You teach me how to have courage and plough ahead in life. I am blown away by your attitude & determination to stay around to watch your grandson grow and be present for your family.
I think you'll be around for a long long while and won't allow the tenacious grip of cancer take you away. You rock Wendy!

Love always,
Deedee Kaplan
November 14, 2010

Whenever I think of Wendy, it is always her laugh that comes to mind first – a full, hearty, infectious laugh that makes everyone feel good.

We met, through my wife, many years ago in New York City, before she and her husband Allan moved to Phoenix. The friendship we all share has transcended the ensuing time and distance - the immediacy, comfort, closeness and the knowing which good friends share instantly returns whenever we speak on the phone.

She possesses a rich and deep capacity to understand and empathize with others, which has always been impressive. If she were ever so inclined, she would make a fine therapist.

In life, there are some people whose mere acquaintance enriches one’s life – for me, Wendy is such a person.

Michael Freedman
November 04, 2010

For me, cancer is this truly remarkable opportunity offering a perspective on life where you can really choose to be free. For those that experience any kind of so called disease, disability, illness, hardship, it is within these overlooked gifts that remind those directly and indirectly touched, of how beautiful being alive right now is. For when my mother Wendy Gelber was diagnosed with cancer, it initially was a very troubling time for the entire family. From this opportunity every member of our family has chosen to grow, to be the strong, close knit family we are today. For those of you who have never met Wendy J physically, do not fret, for she is and shall always be the warm, loving confidence that lies within us all. When I was young Wendy taught me a few lessons that reside within me well. They were that every relationship with an individual is exactly that, your relationship with that person. She also taught me that if you have truth on your side, you can never go wrong. Therefore I grew up knowing that it did not matter what other people thought about me, for I would always have my mother smiling within me. Every girl is capable of becoming the woman she truly is, Wendy J Gelber did it with style.

Hayes Gelber
October 19, 2010

Wendy is that friend that comes around once in a lifetime if you're lucky, and I guess I am. We have been friends, more like sisters, for forty years, more than half our lives. Outspoken, supportive, provocative, intelligent, wise, funny, inquisitive, compassionate, centered, resourceful, loving and so much more, Wendy has been this to me and everyone, who has had the privilege of having her in their lives. Through the deeply painful ups and downs, sprinkled with the happiness her family brings to her, she has managed to survive, and will continue to, well beyond what anyone has expected. She's not one to give up...ever.

Florence Freedman
October 16, 2010

In the few years that I've know Wendy, I have to say that I've never once been afraid for her. Somehow, I knew that she would continue to fight, to thrive and to live. She hasn't proven me wrong. I am a huge believer in the power of prayer and positive thinking, and I think she is too.

Wendy has always been incredibly kind to this shiksa, and, she always laughs at my jokes. What more can you ask for in a friend?

Liz Andres
October 13, 2010

When I met Wendy, almost 8 years ago, she had just returned from a cruise (little did I realize this would happen many times over the following years). I saw this slightly-built woman with masses of hair who was very self-confident and funny. A few weeks after meeting her I found out she had rheumatoid arthritis. I was amazed with how she dealt with this and remember her telling me "I am not my disease". When Wendy received her devastating diagnosis of lung cancer, we were emailing and she wrote: "Some one has to be the first person to beat this – why shouldn't it be me! I agreed with her at the time and now I'm thinking maybe she really will be the first one to do it!

Nancy Yanak
October 13, 2010

Wendy Gelber has many friends that care and I am one of them. I met Wendy playing Mah Jongg. She is a very good player and makes me smile a lot during our games.

I am so happy when she gets good results on her checkups. She enjoys having family around her. She is a good friend and cares about people! Wendy makes the best spinach dip.

Charlotte Moffitt
October 12, 2010

I met Wendy Gelber 30 years ago when we had both just moved to Phoenix. We hit it off immediately….she was from New York and I'd been born there, too.

You know what they say about New Yorkers? We can be a bit pushy. Even though Wendy left New York, New York never left her. So when she got a very grim diagnosis, she pushed back. And 4-1/2 years later, she's still pushing.

She's got too many things she still wants to do and see…….a new cruise to some exotic port; a new foreign flick she's heard about; there may even be some yoga poses she still hasn't figured out.

But, most of all, she wants to see her grandson grow into the kind of loving, warm person that her two children have become. She wants to travel that road again of watching and encouraging and sharing all the moments along the way.

So keep pushing, Wendy…… we’re with you all the way!

Marianne Sattler
October 11, 2010

"It's been four and a half years for Wendy and her friends and family...a lot of ups and downs. Joy at good reports, fear and sorrow at not-so-good ones. Through it all, we've been grateful she's here after the 3-6 month time limit the doctors originally told her. Dr. Isaacs exhausted every avenue and went a step further to send her for clinical trials. Maybe healer Jerry Wills had something to do with keeping her here. If prayers/vibes have any power, I also believe they may have worked. Wendy's time is one of those "miracles" we can't explain...we just have to accept and enjoy!"

Michelle Wilbur
October 11, 2010

I met Wendy after she was in treatment for her cancer. I joined a Mah Jong group and was told she probably wouldn't be returning to play. Wendy did return to Mah Jong, and we made each other laugh. We are still laughing, and I hope to hear her laugh for many, many years to come.

Carol Yahoub
October 9, 2010

Do you remember where we met, ABCO, and what we talked about? I’m smiling every time I think about it, which makes me think about you. So many years have passed and our friendship has found a way to grow. You have shown me how to hope, shown me tenacity, kindness, toughness, and above all how to fight for what you believe in.

I still haven’t found that perfect margarita, but when I do, I’ll be wishing you were there to share it with me and then I’ll smile again.

Adele Smith
May 27, 2011

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