MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When Jennie Terreberry Cox and Krissie Weimer became friends as Jamestown High School ninth-graders, they didn't know that a series of events would have them closer than ever more than two decades later. They've remained friends through distance, sickness, ups and downs, and now, they're as close as ever.
After Terreberry Cox was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in December, Weimer has raised more than $2,000 for her best friend and will walk 39.3 miles in her honor later this spring.
A FRIENDSHIP FORMS
Jennie Terreberry Cox and Krissie Weimer, 1995 Jamestown High School graduates, are seen in 1998 marching in their final home football game as four-year members of the Pride of West Virginia, the Mountaineer marching band. More than a decade after that day and more than two decades since they met at JHS, the two remain close as Terreberry Cox fights through breast cancer.
In 1991, the two young women met as members of the Red Raiders marching band, and their friendship hasn't faltered since. By chance, Weimer and Terreberry Cox attended the same college after graduating high school: West Virginia University.
"We didn't sit down and plan to go to school together," Terreberry Cox said. "We both were involved with music in high school, so the marching band at WVU is what I think we were both attracted to."
The duo remained on the Mountaineer marching band for the following four years before graduating from West Virginia. Terreberry Cox remained in Morgantown, completing her master's degree and landing a job. Weimer moved to Maryland and found work. Despite the distance between them, the two women didn't lose touch, meeting up at friends' weddings and for Christmas.
Then, in 2004, Terreberry Cox was stricken with breast cancer just months before her marrying her husband, Dave.
"I remember getting the call," Weimer said. "I remember talking to my friends, thinking, 'My friends aren't supposed to have cancer.' I came home for her wedding, and everything was fine. She hadn't started chemo yet because she wanted to wait until after the wedding. She looked the same. (Then), at Christmas, she had started her chemo, and she had lost her hair. It sunk in a little more like, 'This is real.'"
Terreberry Cox fought off the cancer. Little did she know, her high-school friend would soon return to Morgantown.
Terreberry Cox had her first child, Brennan, in 2007. A year later, Weimer returned to her college town to start working on her master's degree.
Weimer landed a job as a music teacher, and Terreberry Cox teaches special education. The two live about 5 miles apart in Morgantown.
Last year, Terreberry Cox had her second child, Dilynn, prior to her second breast cancer diagnosis. Having her best friend far closer this time around, dealing with the cancer has been easier for Terreberry Cox.
Back in 2004, Weimer sent her friend "fun packs," consisting of items meant to help them keep in touch and raise Terreberry Cox's spirits. Today, she can do much more.
Weimer makes her friend's family one meal a week, which she calls "chemo on wheels." She wrote Terreberry Cox a song called "The 12 Rounds of Chemo" to the tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas," and watches Brennan and Dilynn when their parents need a break or if Terreberry Cox isn't feeling well. Weimer takes her friend to the movies, made her a coupon book, cleans her house, does laundry and more.
"She's really helpful," Terreberry Cox said. "There aren't words to describe how wonderful it is and how ironic it is that we would end up in the same place in a time that I needed it. How amazing and wonderful she is speaks volumes for her family as well. It's been great."
For Weimer, helping her longtime friend just makes sense.
"She's never a 'Debbie Downer' about her situation. We always have such fun together. It doesn't matter how long I go without seeing her, when we do see each other, it's like we pick up on the same page; it's like nothing changed."
'THERE'S MORE I COULD BE DOING'
Despite the numerous ways Weimer has helped her friend, she felt she needed to do more earlier this year. When reading a newspaper one day, she saw an ad for the Avon Walk.
"It just kind of hit me, 'This is something I should look into. This is something I can do,'" she said.
Weimer consulted Jennie's mother, Irene Terreberry of Maple Springs, who had participated in a three-day, 60-mile Susan G. Komen walk previously, and decided to do it. She'll walk 39.3 miles total from Washington, D.C., to Chevy Chase, Md., and back, May 5-6.
Each participant has to raise $1,800 for Avon, which uses the funds in the following areas: early detection programs, medical research, clinical care, support services and educational seminars.
Although Weimer has exceeded the necessary total, she will accept more sponsors.
"Because Jennie is such a great friend, and has been for such a long time, I wanted to do something to honor her courage, determination and strength, as she lays the beat down on cancer for a second time," Weimer said.
FRIENDS THROUGH IT ALL
All things considered, Terreberry Cox feels pretty well these days. She has handled chemotherapy well and doesn't get sick or lose weight. She feels great about her friendship with Weimer as well.
The two women have remained in touch with their group of friends from high school, but their friendships with others aren't quite the same.
With 21 years of friendship behind them, another 21 years doesn't seem out of the question for Terreberry Cox and Weimer.
"I guess you always hope to stay in touch when you make a friend, but it's pretty common to grow apart," Terreberry Cox said. "Life takes over, and you move to different towns and you lose touch. I don't even have the words to describe how great it's been."