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Update On Jan Fleming… E-mail As Medicinal Treatment

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, December 9, 2010

Our piece, To Endure And Prevail: With Thanksgiving Approaching Let Jan Fleming Know She Does Not Stand Alone, pointed out that Jan Fleming — daughter of Bob Strube, Sr., longtime pillar of the Strube Celery and Vegetable Company and columnist of PRODUCE BUSINESS, and wife of former United Chairman Tim Fleming and an industry luminary in her own right as CEO of Strube Celery and Vegetable Company, plus a very kind person — had to battle a serious illness.

We are pleased to report that Jan is now out of the hospital. She is anxiously awaiting the chance to get back to Chicago where she will continue her treatment. Just before she went in for her operation she sent a little note:

There are no words to tell you how surprised and gratified I felt when I saw your article. I will tell you that I’ve already received an avalanche of e mails — both from good industry friends whom I’ve known for years, and also from those in the industry who don’t know me but have offered beautiful words of support, encouragement, advice, and personal testimonies.

I also must tell you how humbling it is to me that you have used your wonderful wordsmithing talents to let the industry know about what I’m going through and to link that experience in with the Thanksgiving holiday. You are wonderful.

As you said, I do know how very blessed I am — but not only because I’ve got the ability to act quickly with the best possible medical team — although that’s huge. I am blessed to have led the life I’ve led — to have been given the opportunity to get up every day and go to work in an industry that supports and promotes good nutrition. My father based his life on the fact that “work is a blessing,” and I certainly believe that (maybe not with quite as much fervor as Dad did, but I do believe it.)

However, more than just that, I’ve been blessed with family, friends, associates and so many, many people who are out there praying for me on a continual basis.

Cancer is a bummer. On the other hand, I really had no idea of how many, many people were out there for me. It really leaves me totally in awe of the beauty of this experience. I know that sounds strange — and I probably won’t feel as though recovery and chemo are too beautiful, but today, I know how good I’ve got it.

So — this has gone on a bit too long, but I just don’t know how to ever let you know how much your friendship has meant to me.

Thank you.

— Jan (and Tim, too, of course.)

We had no doubt that the Pundit readership would respond. We are lucky to have a most engaged and generous readership.

We knew it would help. People need to know they have a lot to live for when they battle things like this, and love from family and friends and even total strangers is often a powerful motivating force.

Of course, Jan can’t answer each person individually, but if you sent a note, we hope you will find happiness in the thought of Jan, as she recovers, scrolling down her laptop and smiling as she hears from well wishers across the industry.

E-mail is really a great thing for those struggling to become well. When the Pundit Poppa was in the hospital, many wanted to come and visit — we discouraged it. If Dad wasn’t feeling well that day, we didn’t want him to feel obligated to see visitors. The family didn’t want to feel obligated to take visitors for dinner and whatnot. Even phone calls, although sometimes nice, often seemed to arrive at the exact moment when the bandages had to be changed or blood drawn.

E-mail, though is asynchronous. One can send an e-mail when it is convenient and the recipient can read it when he or she is ready. A really wonderful communication tool in business for exactly that reason — but, maybe even more so, with a person whose health and recovery status makes it unpredictable when exactly they will be up to engaging.

Karen Caplan, President and CEO at Frieda’s, Inc., who is also a friend of Jan’s, had a nice take on this subject in a piece she titled, How Computers Help The Healing Process. Karen’s mom, the famous (and fabulous) Frieda Caplan, had also sent us a note when our piece about Jan Fleming first appeared and also praised the value of e-mail:

Thanks for letting us know about Jan’s situation … and for providing an immediate way to contact her. You are a technological genius. I hope my note let her know how much she is cared for by all who know her and the Strube family.

— Frieda

If you would like to send Jan a note wishing her the best in her recovery from her operation and giving her strength in her ongoing treatment, you can do so here.

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