Two years ago my cancer worries started. I did all my treatments, fretted about my hair re-growth and then I was finished. I was done thinking about myself. Then recently, it seems like all my worries turned towards friends.
I remember a couple years ago when my friend, "A" suddenly faced cancer. I couldn't imagine. Then suddenly I was the anxious one, facing the unknowns of breast cancer. A's pep-talks and honesty-chats were a welcome relief. Now A is facing cancer, again. I think of her daily and wish she hadn't moved so far away.
"C" was once a neighbor who shared my taste in movies, humor, politics and more. Since moving 10 years ago, we've never lost touch, thanks to technology. She supported me throughout my bad months and celebrated with me in person, when I had a short crop of hair. Now, C is finishing up her own radiation treatments for breast cancer. I stressed along with her, when she was awaiting results. No chemo for C, but she and I share that same label now. We've had cancer and that never changes.
Recently my neighbor of 20 years, had a scare. "L" has had biopsies before, but this one was different. While she was waiting on her results, I stewed along with her. I thought about how she was there for her own mother, when she lost her battle. I thought about how L was at my door 2 years ago, after I told her of my diagnosis. She offered support, advice and positive distraction over those months. Even fashion advice, when it was time for wig purchasing.
Durning those agonizing days after L's biopsy, I wasn't much help. L was keeping herself distracted by packing her house to move. I fretted that her diagnosis would be positive. How does one face a move, with cancer? How could I help her? She would soon be out of casserole-giving-range!
When I got word that all was clear for L, I felt almost as relieved as if it had been my own news. She was giddy and so was I. But there was a moment when L realized, even before me, that this was an odd celebration to share. I can't remember L's words, but they surprised me. She paused from her exuberance to realize that I hadn't experienced the same joy, when my positive results came in. I was touched that she could look beyond her own relief and acknowledge our different reactions. "That's true." I thought to myself, amazed at how I hadn't even thought of that on my own.
I'm sad that so many are dealing with cancer scares these days. I'm sad that A, C, L and I share things in common like biopsies, radiation and chemo. I liked it better when we just had books in common... back when we were in our book club, drinking wine and gabbing. I'm sad that I've had to watch each of these friends move away, but I'm so incredibly grateful to live in 2018. There are amazing ways to diagnose and treat this horrible cancer thing, if and when we get it. But there are also amazing ways to stay connected like never before. We've come a long way since staying in touch meant, letter writing and expensive long distance phone calls!