I get my emails on my blackberry. In January, I got one from a friend in the early morning who's message started with the words "this is the hardest email I've ever had to write". I knew right away it was going to be a tough one to read on my phone. So I logged in to email and steeled myself for the oncoming bad news. My friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Shock. Disbelief. Unfair. Worried. Sad. Angry. These are some of the words that described how I felt that morning. Shock... because she spent a lifetime working hard to keep herself fit and healthy. Disbelief... because she is my age and that hits REAL close to home. Unfair... because she has already had to deal with so many negative "life" issues already - and this was to be a year of big HAPPY events (wedding, exotic honeymoon, baby-making, etc.) Worried... about how she would deal with it all (treatment, family, career, finances, etc). Sad and angry... for all of the above! It is a feeling of helplessness when a friend calls you with bad news that you CANNOT fix. All you can hope to do is listen, be supportive and hopefully encouraging.
My friend was amazingly strong from the very beginning. She had done her research and knew her path to beat it. Through it all, she has remained incredibly strong, rational and fiercely independent. It's been over 8 months now and her news is good! She had surgery right away to remove a breast and affected tissues, she has gone through months of chemo and radiation, and she has gotten the "all clear" from her doctors. She recently celebrated her success at kicking cancer by having her friends join her to "Ride The Duck". What a fun way to get a group of friends together, be out in the beautiful weather and really see Seattle in a fresh new light. It was fantastic to see her in a fresh new light as well - not just the new hair do ;-) but smiling, laughing, strong, confident and amazing! She also just participated in the Breast Cancer 3-day. 60 miles of unrelentless stomping cancer to the ground. So proud of her!
I guess this post is my little way of saying thank you to her! Thank you for letting me be a part of your journey. Whether it was a walk around Greenlake, lunch at our favorite sushi spot, or a trip to your hospital - thank you for sharing your honest emotions with me. Thank you for being so open and educating me. Thank you for fighting! You ROCK Sheila!
Friends, I cannot tell you her story as well as she can, nor can I summarize the whole ordeal as she can. She is a writer and I am not. So I encourage you to read her blog (http://stompthis.blogspot.com/) to get the story. In her blog you will hear her story, read notes of encouragement from her friends, and most importantly get educated about breast cancer. She has done a great job of documenting the research, the DR visits, the treatments, the emotional roller coaster, the recovery, and the healthy things YOU can do to ward off cancer in your life. Check it out!