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Tim Mapes and Rachael Rensink

Rachael Rensink (RR): My boss at the time was vice president of inflight service, Sandy Gordon.  And I called her.  And all I could say was, "Save me a seat on the survivor flight."  Because we do this breast cancer foundation survivor flight every year.  I have been involved in planning for the survivor flight, never thinking I was going to be on it.   So that's kind of how I verbalized it really for the first time was to Sandy.  And I remember the day that I was going to tell you, because you have had probably the biggest impact on my entire career at Delta.  So I remember thinking I wanted to have you in my corner.  I wanted you to be fighting this with me.

Tim Mapes (TM): I remember vividly the day you came in and told me that you had cancer.  I also remember vividly telling you that you were going to kick cancer's ass.

RR: And that was kind of the end of the story.  There wasn't even discussion [LAUGHTER] really much about anything else.  It was just, "Nope, this is what's going to happen."

TM: I was so certain, knowing you and your spirit and your tenacity, I knew you were going to be okay.  But what was not at all clear at that time either is Keith's mom getting ovarian cancer, and in a way, you having to transfer and shift from patient to patient-slash-caregiver on top of being mom, and on top of being wife, and on top of being Delta employee and everything else.

RR: The team that I worked with, the division, the department that I was in, the outpouring of support from them, not just in being able to come by the house and bring us dinner so I don't have to cook, but in taking the kids out, letting them just be kids, letting them just play because I couldn't do that.  And they would call me just to check in.  And it sounds so mundane, but it's knowing that there were people there that were on our side.  They were taking care of our mind, our body, our spirit.  I can't put it into words how incredible it was.   We've got 80,000 people that work here that all have experiences, and a lot of them are with cancer.  So we've started a cancer support employee network.  Delta's given us the seed money to start the group.  We're literally getting this group off of the ground and spreading our wings.  It's just the spirit of who we are and the people that work here that lets it come out.