Rebecca Weis’s Front Row Experience: Hamilton
Illness: Blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm (BPDCN)
Rebecca Weis is a beloved wife to John and mom to 2.5-year-old Caroline. She’s also a lawyer who is a quick-witted critical thinker. Heavily involved in her community, serving as past president of the Young Professionals Association as well as on numerous boards of various local organizations, she has a huge heart for others. Her friends know her as fiercely loyal, incredibly kind, and someone who they want always in their corner.
Rebecca’s world was rocked when she was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia (blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm or BPDCN), and she began treatment immediately in December of 2016.
Her first bone marrow transplant was canceled the night before after her donor was no longer medically fit to donate. Nearly a year after the original date, she received her transplant in March 2017. Four platelet transfusions and four blood transfusions later, she was sent home at last in April.
Great physical difficulties followed in her early weeks home. Simple, daily actions we all take for granted like walking around and taking a shower took all of her energy. She got sick and the viruses depleted the progress she was making in her platelet, white blood cell, hemoglobin, and neutrophil counts.
Rebecca had her first bone marrow biopsy post-transplant in June and days later received good news: She was officially in remission. Despite her best efforts to take extra precautions in public places and protect her weakened immune system, Rebecca picked up a stomach bug from Caroline which caused vomiting every 20-30 minutes. After a trip to the ER and a longer-than-expected stay at her hospital in Columbus, Rebecca went home at last.
Rebecca’s husband, John applied for her Front Row experience, knowing how much she’s been through and also knowing that with BPDCN, relapse is common. John wanted to make the most of this time of health and strength…and all of us at Front Row were thrilled to join in the fun!
Knowing Rebecca’s love of history and theater so our team went to work on creating the perfect event and reveal. Thanks to our new friends at the Sons of the American Revolution, we were able to create one major #frontrowmoment to break the news to Rebecca: She’d be going to Hamilton in Chicago!
And just like that, the special weekend was here! We’re happy to report Rebecca was able to cross not one but TWO items off her bucket list:
- To see Hamilton
- To eat dinner at Next (the famous Chicago restaurant featured on the Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table)
We kicked off the day with a few special gifts. We heard Rebecca’s favorite wine was Rose so we outfitted her with a custom “Rosé all day” shirt and wine glasses—Front Row style!
We also gave her a pendant with Caroline’s picture. It was a heartfelt moment.
Next up was… Next! After photos and video to document the occasion, Rebecca wound up talking to a woman who was also battling Leukemia, a connection that was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the night.
The restaurant then gave Rebecca a kitchen tour AND a beautiful cookbook signed by all of the staff. Dinner followed (with 16 courses!!) and was the ultimate expression of creativity through food. Rebecca, John, and our team talked, laughed and enjoyed the phenomenal meal.
One AMAZING side note is that renowned chef Grant Achatz, the owner of Next, actually had cancer of the tongue and had to learn to make dishes off of MEMORY. Incredible.
After dinner the group moved to the Signature Room, on the 95th floor of the John Handcock building with the BEST VIEW of the Chicago skyline! Rebecca watched her reveal video there and was filled with emotion as she re-lived that magical moment.
Finally, a quick stop at the hotel bar, where Rebecca ended up chatting with two finalists from the reality show, The Bachelorette. Then off to get some shut-eye for Hamilton!
In the morning, Rebecca started off her day right with an in-room massage!
We had a chance to connect on camera to talk with Rebecca. You’ll see that she opened a few of the letters many of you from our community wrote. It was POWERFUL. Words cannot express how meaningful this was. Rebecca later shared: “I will never throw these away. Whenever I have a tough day, I’ll come back to these letters.”
We were off to dinner at Quartinos. Another great meal and the limo picked us up for show. The big moment had arrived!
When the limo pulled up to the theater, an entire line of people began snapping photos. Rebecca and John found it pretty funny these onlookers outside were expecting celebrities!
We made it to our seats and they were AMAZING. Perfectly close without being too close. Rebecca, a true raving fan, sang along to every song. She knew every word and cycled through every emotion that the Hamilton story brings.. Laughter, sadness, anger. It was beautiful. As the show concluded, she was the first person in the whole theater to jump out of her seat to give a standing ovation. What an awesome front row moment!