More Instant Joy

As I continue visiting my past through old material about my mom’s life and reading ancient (!) journals of my own, it’s become clear my past wants to visit with me as well.

In two short months, two people from my past have suddenly found me. I wrote about the first one two weeks ago regarding my long-lost cousin. It had literally been a lifetime with no communication. The second one was not a lifetime, but pretty close.

It began when my phone “dinged” with a notification one afternoon. I saw it was a Facebook friend request. “Ugh, another scam friend request” I thought and put the phone down. But the name caught my attention.

“Hmm, I knew a Rick H in college, but I can’t imagine it’s him,” I thought, although admittedly, the photo looked like him. I accepted understanding that I could quickly unfriend too.

Within seconds, an instant message arrived.

“41 years later. Hope this finds you well!”

I did the math, and he was right. This was indeed my old college radio friend, Rick.

I’ve briefly referenced my radio days at WDUB; an acronym for Denison University Broadcasting. I started off as an overnight disc jockey, but I also signed up to read the news on the air, both local college news and state and national news on our thin 10 MHz broadband. I relished it.

By my junior year, I became the WDUB News director, which consisted mainly of scheduling the shifts for all the news readers spread throughout the day. If I remember correctly, one volunteer covered two hours, but was only live for a few minutes at the top and the bottom of the hour. Sometimes, there was some chatting with the DJ.

I can’t believe I still have this fun caricature cover!

Not knowing it, 1980 proved to be an excellent year to hold this job. It was a presidential election year, and Jimmy Carter had a campaign stop in Columbus, Ohio. This was only 30 minutes from our campus. The station received an offer to request press credentials to cover the event live.

Armed with official PRESS passes hung around our necks, a few of us traveled to Columbus to watch history. Unfortunately, Carter would go on and lose the election, but it was a blast covering it.

Rick H. was the Sports Director. He had a one-in-a-million deep baritone, rambunctious voice. It was the type of voice made for play-by-play sports, which is exactly what he did, calling the basketball and football games as well as handling Director duties.

After confirming it was Rick, we exchanged phone numbers. 60 seconds later, I was hearing THAT voice again. He and I were also fellow members of the unofficial WDUB card-playing club (we only had three members) and for a couple of semesters we were addicted to the card game Hearts and played regularly in our dorm rooms with another radio disc jockey named Ray.

My first question to Rick was if he had gone into broadcasting. He was a natural.

“No, I didn’t, I wanted to make money and you can’t in that field unless you reach the top,” he shared. “I didn’t want to wait that long.”

He explained that after his marriage to his high school sweetheart soon after graduating from Denison; he started in pharmaceuticals sales and marketing and remained there his entire career. He eventually started working for Amgen and they moved to California, where Amgen is based.

As I was sharing my life story, I referenced my cancer, and he said kindly, “I saw the Facebook photos and thought maybe you had been through chemo.”

This was when he shared why Amgen hired him. His primary responsibility would be to market and bring awareness to both consumers and the medical community about a new drug Amgen had developed. The name was Neulasta.

Doctors prescribe an infusion of Neulasta about 27 hours after a chemotherapy session ends. It is a drug that stimulates the growth of healthy white blood cells, which take a hit after chemo. Everyone needs a certain level of white blood cells to fight infection. Neulasta stimulates the bone marrow to produce more cells. It is an important part of the cycle.

For over 15 years, Rick’s sole focus was on this drug, bringing it to the attention of both doctors and insurance companies in order to help cancer patients rebound. As it turns out, this included me.

The results of his hard work found me in a small infusion suite in the middle of suburban Florida. And it helped me. My turnaround time in feeling stronger between chemo sessions was pretty fast, and I always attributed it to Neulasta. Through bloodwork, it was easy to see my white blood cell count improve a week after the shot.

Although it’s a coincidence, it was still a head-shaking moment. It made me feel like he had somehow been with me after my chemo sessions, urging me to get strong again.

Of course, we also talked about our spouses and our grown children (one of his children works for the St. Louis Blues hockey organization, so sports remained in the family).

Our conversation that day felt like a warm embrace. My phone was certainly warm after being on it for so long!


We all know that there is nothing quite like talking with someone who knew you when you were young. They know your history. It’s a welcome, comfortable feeling; an instant joy. And in this case, Rick brought me back to my best days at the radio station; something I adored. With my phone busy ringing, my past sure is having fun catching up with me.  

Photo by Helena Lopes on


  1. What a great story of friendship!! Amazing how he sold the same drug that helped you feel better and make such a speedy comeback! Really enjoyed it!! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Betsy!!! I’m really happy that you enjoyed it. It just felt like one of those stories you have to share, it was a pretty remarkable coincidence! I appreciate your comment! ❤️


  2. I love stories like this, Melanie. Thank goodness for advancements in medicine with products like Neulasta. If the teaching thing didn’t work out, my backup plan was to become a sports broadcaster.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, really Pete? Your backup plan was to be a sports broadcaster? That’s a pretty small niche – talk about a small world haha. Love it!! I was a finalist for an internship at Voice of America in D.C. right before my senior year, but gosh darn it, I didn’t get it. It’s all good. 🙂 I really liked the story too. Thanks Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I noticed there wasn’t a post this week. 😉 Yay for hiatuses! I’m also honored you are here Marian! Thank you. Yes, I could not believe I found that buried in my school papers! It’s fun and represents a favorite time in my life. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a heartwarming reunion story! Another positive nod to social media when there are so many negative stories. Ricks association with Neulasta and your taking it during your cancer was nothing less than positive fate!! I’m so happy you reunited with “another” member from your past. It must be fun to go on fb now- you never know when someone else pops up!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Pam. That’s a good point about social media. I have been particularly grateful towards it recently! 🙂 Yes, my jaw dropped when I heard he launched Neulasta, the story wrote itself with that. Life is very, very funny and I’m enjoying its synchronicities coming my way!


  4. Aahh, the universe does work in mysterious ways Melanie. A lovely story about friendship and so glad you connected with an old friend. What are the odds right that you connected with old acquaintenances and the significance Rick and that drug played in your life – we meet people for reasons and seasons 🙂 I also love that people are coming back from the past. Hugs ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Debby. 🙂 Interestingly, I started off the year with trying to “#liveagreatstory” (it’s a movement) and that, in turn, has encouraged me to be open to more things; to say “yes” instead of “no.” I’m giving myself a year to see where that goes. Maybe the universe is sensing this change. Love that phrase “we meet people for reasons and seasons”. SO TRUE. I’m glad you enjoyed the story! Thanks for your insights. Hugs too. ♥

      Liked by 1 person

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