It is hard to put into words when your best friend receives the news she has breast cancer. I keep thinking this is just a dream. It is very surreal. As I approach my 45th birthday, I wonder how we got to this place in life. It seems like yesterday we were eating lunch at Smith Hall on Ohio Wesleyan University campus. Today, I am discussing her double mastectomy. How exactly did we get from discussing the weekend’s frat party to today? I think it is called aging.
Sometimes I forget my friends and I are in our mid forties. I feel better than I ever did in my life. I am emotionally and physically in my prime. Life is not drama or stress free, but I care a whole lot less about such things. I am more focused on what to be grateful for in life. The days are full of little gratitudes. I say little, because most people just skim over the things I am grateful for in life. I have learned the importance of the little stuff in life.
I did something fun with a friend the other night. We created our gratitude lists……….with a twist. I did his and he did mine. So much fun to listen to someone else’s view of what I have to be grateful for at this moment. I watched his eyes dance and light up as I pointed out all positive parts of his life. It was a very healing little game.
In the face of my best friend having breast cancer, instead of focusing on how terrible it is, because it is terrible, I focus on the little moments of gratitude . First, there is a good chance it is in the very early stages. Second, she has a very kind and skilled surgeon to care for her. Three, we have each other to in the face of serious illness.
How did we get here? I am not sure. We were just in college. I suppose somewhere between graduation and mini vans loaded with children we got older. In a sobering moment, I remember our age. People our age face new challenges. I am telling myself it is only a health challenge. It is not a health crisis. I like to play tricks with my mind like that. You see if it was a crisis I would panic. There is no need to panic in a challenge.
Tonight I am focusing on a challenge. If this was a terrible, horrible, no hope situation, well then, I would have admit we are just our age. We are far too young for such ridiculous issues like a health crisis.
Tonight, with a tear running down my cheek, I say a pray for my girl. I know deep in my heart we are not young like we once where. But tomorrow, damn it, it is back to business as usual.
I frantically rushed out the door at 8:00 AM heading to the hospital. Not sure where I was meeting Susan, I sent her a text. I told her I was on my way. She replied laughing that her appointment was at 8:30. So I quietly sat for 25 minutes in the hospital parking lot. I enjoyed the quiet time. I would rather be early than late.
She and I are used to doing this sort of thing. Many years ago, my house was on a women’s group home tour. One week before the scheduled tour, I was painting the kitchen door. Just putting some final touches on the house before the big day when Susan showed up. She had a cool drink in her hand. Of course, I was dressed for cleaning and painting. We chatted for about 30 minutes before she asked me if I was going to change my clothes before the tour. We laughed uncontrollably when she realized that she was an entire week early for the house tour. So me being 30 minutes early for her appointment is about right for this “Lucy and Ethel” team of friends.
At 8:00 I walked into the lobby of the hospital. It is where we agreed to meet. I waited a few minutes when I saw her running in the door. She had a giant smile on her face and began laughing as she said her designer flip-flops broke on the way out the door. Only after we were settled into the waiting room did she reveal she had already super glued them once. I simply looked at her and laughed. As the story goes, they were very exclusive designer shoes that she found at a thrift store for pennies on the dollar. She has many such finds. I have never seen a woman more glammed up with designer thrift finds. I asked why when I got to the thrift store I only see old men’s used underwear neatly displayed on hangers, but she finds exclusive designer shoes and handbags. She stalks the store. It all makes sense to me.
This whole conversation takes place as we wait for an appointment with the surgeon that will perform her biopsy next week. You would think that after the seriousness of the situation we would discuss more important topics. The thing is this is exactly how we are. We are still laughing, still talking about bargain shopping and still being us. I would like to say that we have matured after the 27 years of friendship, but I would be lying if I did. Truthfully, I am glad we haven’t. Life is way too serious. If we can still laugh in the face of the most serious situation to date we are truly blessed.
The link below directs you to a blog entry of my dear friend that is facing the battle of her life. It is her thoughts of recalling her mother’s death from breast cancer and her own experience now.
Susan and I share a join blog called, “Friends by the same name” She is currently posting her thoughts about the events of the last few weeks as I share mine on my blog. The link below directs you to our join blog.
This entry is a little different from most of my blogs. It is about a topic very dear to my heart that I rarely discuss. It is about friendship. I have been blessed with more friends than one woman can ever imagine having. Friends from all walks of life and friends from all time periods in my life. Friends come and go over the years. Some I have regular contact with and others have completely left my life. Never the less, my life has been rich with friendship.
Some friendships are different from all the rest. Those friendships with stand the test of time. It seems that no matter how busy we are, how much time passes, or how much distance is between us, the friendship endures as if we spoke yesterday. It is a friendship built on laugher, tears, births, deaths, and every imaginable life experience in between. It started 27 years ago in a music theory class. I don’t remember the exact moment we spoke, but I am certain it centered around laughter.
Yesterday we were not laughing. Yesterday was the darkest day of our 27 years of sisterhood. Yesterday my girl was given some grim health news. Yesterday we learned that we are in for the battle of our lives. I went with her to the follow-up mammogram. I had a call back mammogram a few years ago. It turned out to be nothing at all. So of course, when she told me she needed to go back, I offered to go with her. We sat in the waiting room together talking much like we did when we were 22 years old in the dining hall. We cracked jokes and made fun of ourselves. When she was asked to have an ultra sound for yet a closer look I got a bit concerned. They quickly ushered us to another part of the hospital. As we waited, she sat in her hospital gown and we kept talking. This time we discussed the details of her mother’s death from breast cancer. We started thinking about what we might be dealing with now. We had just met when her mother passed away after a very brief battle with the disease. We always knew there was a risk for her. We both had been vigilant about getting our mammograms each year. A few times over the last 10 years, we would hold our breath for her results. With a huge sigh of relief, one more year passed with no problem. Yesterday was different, tears poured down her face as the radiologist explained his concerns. I rubbed her back as we both listened. I focused the best I could. I needed to be her other set of ears. After we were alone, we embraced. I cradled her face in my hands, looked in her eyes and said, “Listen to me. This will be ok. We will get through this together. You are not alone. I will be there ever step of the way with you.” She shook her head with a muffled sob. Like any strong women, we grabbed a few more tissues and head to the radiologist’s office to see her films. With note pad and pen in hand, she got ready to take notes, I stood near her listening to every word. I needed to gather all the information I could. Still dazed as we left, I asked if she wanted a ride home. She chose to drive herself.
As I drove home, I began making arrangements with my husband and mother to ensure I would be available to her in the upcoming days. I knew my life would be on hold until I knew she was well. You see we have a pact to grow old together. I know this is not the end of the road, just a twist in the road. This twist might be a long one and a tough one. We agreed to keep our sense of humor, even during this. Then I shamelessly accused her of doing anything to get a boob job. We laughed like we always do. Somehow still laughing together makes it seem like everything is all right.
Ode to Walkers and Compression Socks
A post from our joint blog:
Posted on June 11, 2013 by Susan
We promised to live long – Golden Girls.
Sitting round with our diamonds and pearls.
Pull up your compression socks
Hold tight while we take some walks
And don’t let the wind mess up your blue curls.
After a short break from blogging, I hope to be writing more entries again. The month of May was a very busy one with my family as we are involved with travel soccer. However, summer has officially begun for us, so I am back to blogging
A few updates:
In spite of a crazy busy May our family continued to eat clean and healthy. Both of my girls have adjusted well to living gluten-free. Having to pass up end of the school year treats, like pizza parties, cupcakes and such was not easy, but both understand the importance.
I have continued to keep on track with my fitness goals. I am seeing increased muscle growth and strength as I continue to press forward with my personal goals. I have been experimenting with not drinking coffee. Given the research, that states, that a coffee protein can cause a similar reaction to gluten for those that can not tolerate wheat products, I tried a month without my beloved java. Sadly, I must give it up. I feel so much better not drinking coffee. I am learning to appreciate the art of drinking all kinds of teas. It is not easy to give up favorite foods, but the trade-off for good health is worth it.
This article is so interesting. I had read book, nearly twenty years ago, that discussed the harmful impact of chemicals in our environment. It was called Our Stolen Future. I remember not wanting to believe it at the time. It seems very far out and almost crazy thoughts about our modern life. Truthfully, all that I read in that book has eventually been proven. In spite of the fact that I didn’t want to believe it at the time, I had a nagging feeling I should heed the warnings. I am so glad I did. Although, my family has not been completely all natural or organic over the years, it was our major goal to live a natural life as much as possible. Here is yet one more study to support why it is important to avoid exposure to chemicals as much as possible. The nice thing is there are simply adjusts to make that can improve your health risks.