Wow! It’s been a while since I posted last! I apologize for my negligence of my blog, I do! But sometimes, life just gets in the way of all the things I want to say and do! But here I am…ready to write and I’m hoping you find this story as inspirational as the person it is about has been to me….enjoy!
We all have that one childhood friend that still makes us remember the day we met them and brings back the laughter and the tears of growing up. That friend, came into my life in 6th grade. You see…it’s a funny story really…in 1983 the Cabbage Patch Doll was introduced. It was the hottest thing on shelves that year and it was REALLY hard to get! But, even at the age of 10, EVERY girl wanted one, but stores couldn’t keep them in stock. At East Middle School, where we attended, we had to sit in the gym on the bleachers before school started and these dolls were the talk of the morning, every morning. With that all being said…one evening a few nights later, this girl called my house to tell me her mom heard a shipment was coming to the local Venture store the next day and wanted to make sure my mom knew about it…that girl ended up being the girl I would call “best friend” for the next 30 years! Little did we know that those dolls (which we both got from that Venture shipment) would connect us for a life-long journey that we would share together – through ups and downs, in life as we knew it, together.
So the story goes as they usually do…we were giddy school girls who had sleep overs on the weekend where we laughed so hard we cried; we wore the same dress (in different colors) to the 8th grade dance; we double dated to high school dances; we did nearly everything together, just as best friends generally do. We opted for different colleges, but that didn’t change our friendship. Every time we talked or saw each other, it was if no time had passed at all. She moved out of state, met a guy, I moved to Chicago, I met a guy, we stood up in each others weddings, she moved further away, we both had kids…but still nothing ever changed between us – time never passed when we talked or saw each other. We could still pick up the phone and call, cry, laugh or just sit in silence. Whatever it was we needed, we were there to provide it, no matter how far away we were from each other or how much time had passed.
Then, one day, the distance became too far. The distance that prevented me from offering that big hug and look of concern I wanted to give. That was the day she called to tell me she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, as a mother of two, at the age of 38. That call was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever taken. I remember where I was, every detail and every feeling I felt when she said the words “I have breast cancer”. I felt it as if I heard the words myself. But at that point and time I felt so helpless, so scared and so far away.
Over the weeks that came ahead she taught me terms I had never heard, about procedures I’d hoped I’d never have to know about and more importantly, she taught be to believe. To believe that whatever the odds, whatever the prognosis, whatever the unknown, she would get through this and beat it, no matter what. While I wanted so strongly to believe that the power of positive thought could make things all better…I was still scared for her. Really scared. But every time we talked, I found myself somehow positive and excited when we ended that call. Her optimism was contagious and her attitude was so refreshing. It didn’t make me any less scared for her but I couldn’t help but smile and I couldn’t help but think that everything would be ok.
Her ability to give herself over to her faith, modern medicine and others gracious hands made it all seem so easy. All the while I knew that none of it was easy on her, none of it was fun for anyone and she had to be scared – because I know we all were. But through it all, outwardly, (and I honestly know, inwardly) she simply believed she would be ok.
For those of you who don’t know her, or her story…you may be waiting for the low point to hit…the part where I say, her optimism didn’t hold steady and her battle was lost…..well, I’ve got news for you….as of just a couple of weeks ago she received her last round of treatments on a journey that lasted about 15 months in length. After multiple surgeries, chemo, radiation, hair loss, two new boobs and drug therapy treatments she stands tall as a breast cancer survivor. She is the cover girl for the phrase “Fight like a Girl!”…she fought, and fought hard. She kept herself, and everyone around her, positive and focused on the task at hand and made it her mission to prove cancer wrong! (And that she did.) When she was the one who needed inspiration to keep her going, she was the one providing it to everyone around her, whether she knew it or not. She proved to everyone that she would not lose, she would not give up and she would beat the big “C”.
I will be a bit selfish and say I’m darn glad she fought so hard! She is now giving us the opportunity to celebrate both our 40th birthdays this year, to create memories with our families over the next 40 years and 40 more years of phone calls, emailed photos, and tears and laughter that are ahead. I would like to think I could have the strength, optimism and focus she had over the last 18 months, but I know she has set the bar really high and proven that she is the best at being the best….and to me, a best friend, who fought like hell, to make sure that she would be around to celebrate more of everything – birthdays, anniversaries, mother’s days, and just more days as a whole.
So, while I know so many of you have friends, sisters, aunts, cousins, mothers, or daughters that has been on this same journey as my dear friend…I would like to dedicate this survivor story to your loved ones…in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and all women who fight the fight every day. And in my BFF’s words, as she signed every update, note or message (and still does)….remember to:
“Live, Love, Laugh”