It has been nearly twelve years ago that a dear friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sue was 33-years-old and like a sister to me, and we went through many challenges together as friends.
Fortunately, she battled and won the fight against breast cancer. Unfortunately, our friendship did not survive.
I think of her often, thankful for what our friendship taught me. I miss talking with her, laughing and crying together, and the bond we shared for many years. Though we are no longer in relationship to one another, the bond I feel with her has never left me.
Ironically, it was nearly 10 years after her diagnosis that I received my own diagnosis of breast cancer.
Those of us who have gone through a diagnosis of cancer and all that it entails know how important it is to surround ourselves with a good support system. I certainly was blessed to have had many sources from which to draw, and I am grateful for each and every one of the people who helped me through the process.
But the one person I have not been able to thank is Sue.
Though she will likely never know how uncanny this particular shared experience is, I would want her to know that she, too, was an incredible source of strength for me, having been through it with her ten years earlier, watching her courage and determination as she faced her own battle. I am truly blessed to have been able to draw on that strength years later.
For now, I’ll share something that I wrote shortly after her diagnosis in the hope that others will see how support can be found in the depths of our memories and experiences…from within ourselves because of those we have loved in the past.
I truly hope that someday Sue and I will be able to reconnect, so that I can thank her for being with me in the “instant moment” of my life.
***Written to my friend, Sue, shortly after learning of her diagnosis of breast cancer
In an “instant moment”, life can change so dramatically. I thought that we had seen the worst part of it. My friend, Sue, and I have been support to one another through some of the toughest times of each of our lives.
Together, we have dealt with separation and divorce, the birth of my grandchild, the shunning from my daughter, depression and seeking help and the immediate death of her dear friend who was my age…not to mention the little things we all deal with on a daily basis.
Together, we have dealt with some shared “histories” and spent hours upon hours discussing how to change the legacy passed down from generation to generation, how to affect those who will come after us, how to live our lives differently, in order that we might be happier, but also to model that life to the others we have the opportunity to love, and influence.
Together, we have learned the meaning of trust, how to disclose our fear, how to open up and share the deepest parts of our souls, understanding that the other isn’t always going to see things the way we do, loving one another without trying to control, and learning acceptance though not always in accordance.
And now, in this “instant moment” we will embark upon another journey. Together, as friends…as sisters, of sorts…putting to use those things that we’ve only just begun to learn how to do–trust, disclosure, understanding, compassion, acceptance, change, and love.
Together, we will challenge those old “tapes” we’ve historically played over and over again. Where the world is black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, one way or another.
Together, we will battle the disease of our lives–uncertainty, anger, pain, judgment, criticism, rejection, fear, hopelessness and helplessness.
And now, in an instant moment…together, we will add cancer to our list.