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"She has breast cancer."
I heard my sister say it. I still replied "What??" I heard it. I just didn't comprehend it.
She is one of the most beautiful people I know, and has long, perfect, black hair. She's going to lose her hair. It was one of my first thoughts.
I have known her since we were kids, when we met, she and my sister were going into the 3rd grade, and I was going into 6th. She was the first friend we had when we moved from Michigan to Washington.
She is 29.
She has a son the same age as Sam.
I spent so much of the next few weeks crying. Every time I would think about her, my stomach would turn. I
She is one of my sister's best friends.
She is my friend.
She is hurting.
I wanted so much to DO something. Feeling helpless has been one of the hardest parts. I felt extra helpless because she and I have not been that close in recent years. She's been more a part of my sister's life, and I've become a bit closer with her Mom through book club. I wanted to tell her how much I am thinking about her, that I love her, that I am here for anything at any time she needs it. But I wondered if it would seem weird. I don't want to overstep my bounds.
This is my first time. My first friend with breast cancer. It was bound to happen eventually, but I just didn't expect it... not like this.
Not knowing was hard. And then, there was news.
There is cancer in her liver.
I had to pull the car over until I could stop sobbing. I wanted to vomit. This is so painful, so full of physical pain and mental pain.
I think about her mother, and there is a whole second aspect that I can and can't comprehend all at once. I think of my children and try to imagine how I would feel if one of them was sick.
I cry because this is not even my pain, and yet it is so painful.
I cry because I am lucky.
I cry because it's not fair.
I spend too much time online. I wanted to know how to help. There have been google searches, articles, blogs... statistics. Survival rates. She is not a number, she is not a statistic. She is my friend. I KNOW this. But still, when I even write about it, my chest constricts and my throat closes a little and I want to scream about how it's not fair and it's not right and what are we going to do?
I want this post to be beautiful.
I want to be eloquent.
I want to pay tribute to her.
I want it to be put together, not disjointed.
I want to somehow convey the love I have for her, and the heartbreak I am feeling right now as I write this. But I can't. I just can't. For once, I find I don't have the words, and I am crying again.
Last week, I read Amber's post about her friend Wendy. It hit me so close to home. It reminded me that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I've never written a post for it before. I know that I have clicked 'mark as read' on posts about it before. I don't think I can ever do that again.
I know something now - age doesn't always matter. It's not always about family history. It's so important to take care of ourselves. So, please, please, check yourself. And if you find a lump? Tell the doctor you want it checked NOW. Not later. My friend found a lump for the first time in April. If they had done more testing, maybe she could have gotten a diagnosis earlier and this fight could have been that much easier. It may not be that urgent, because breast cancer is often not this aggressive. But sometimes, it is.
So, what now?
Now, we wait.
There is a treatment plan. She seems to be in good spirits about it.
Now, we hope.
She is young and strong and otherwise healthy. She has started chemo.
Now, we pray.
She has resources, friends and family who are amazing. One of them took her wig shopping. She tried on a hot pink wig, and I smiled at the photo.
Now, we fight.