When four generations of Weitzenbergs gather in Santa Rosa for their annual Mother's Day brunch, they usually raise a glass in celebration of family.
Today, they likely will honor friendship. And good health. And Olivia Lemen.
It was Lemen, a 32-year-old recreation manager for the city of Calistoga, who answered the call when a member of the Weitzenberg clan was desperately ill.
In the hour of Amy Weitzenberg Baghdadi's greatest need, Lemen did what she said felt natural, like the lesson most kids learn in kindergarten but sometimes learn to forget. Olivia Lemen shared.
Amy Weitzenberg Baghdadi and Olivia Roberts Lemen are not sisters or cousins or even classmates.
Six years separate their graduations from Santa Rosa High School, and they know each other mainly as a result of their mothers' close friendship after nearly two decades of teaching together at Monroe Elementary School in Santa Rosa.
The daughters hit it off six years ago when Lynn Weitzenberg spearheaded a mother-daughter team to participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in San Francisco in celebration of her own win over cancer.
Even though their mothers were the closest of friends, the daughters drifted back into their own busy lives — Lemen with her husband, Andrew, in Napa and Baghdadi with her young family in San Francisco.
Lemen learned of Baghdadi's grim cancer diagnosis last September. That was followed by updates about grueling but unsuccessful chemotherapy.
She knew the 39-year-old mother of two, Tarik, 7, and Aiya, 5, desperately needed a new liver, and she also knew that cancer was likely to kill Baghdadi before a cadaver donation would become available.
Baghdadi's only option, her only hope, was for someone with the right blood type and physical strength to donate part of their liver.
"I was talking to my mom and I remember I had my donor card in my wallet. Sure enough, I was Type O," Lemen said. "It's hard to describe. There was something that just sort of clicked at that point. It just all of a sudden felt like this is something I'm supposed to do."
The story began last fall with a recurring pain in Baghdadi's side after long runs from her home in San Francisco. The pain turned into something more, sending her to the emergency room in the middle of the night, then through scans and exams and medical conferences — six in 48 hours in those early days of tumult, pain and confusion.
Then one evening in September, at home with her husband, Khaldoun, the doctor's chilling words — "you have cancer" — came over the speakerphone.
"He said it was very serious, very aggressive. And very rare," she recalled.
The original diagnosis was angiosarcoma — cancer of the blood vessels in her liver. The sheer number of lesions that pocked her liver ruled out surgery.
The typical medical strategy with that cancer is control and contain, but not conquer.
The doctors at California Pacific Medical Center recommended Baghdadi see a specialist at the Cancer Center at Stanford Hospital. Those doctors, in turn, put Baghdadi through another round of examinations.
That lead to a new diagnosis. Baghdadi didn't have angiosarcoma, she had epithelioid hemangioendothelioma. Even more rare than angiosarcoma, this cancer is slightly less deadly and, unlike angiosarcoma, responds well to transplant.