I had breakfast yesterday morning with my best friend from high school. We are not originally from this area but moved here independently of one another and, thankfully for me, we have stayed in touch over the years. After kids were older we have gotten together more frequently, usually for breakfast and occasionally for dinner, but always with a lot to say–a lot to share–often with laughter–sometimes with tears–but always with respect for how much we have each grown over the years.
She was one of my pillars when I went through my divorce. She and her husband took me to one of their alma mater’s football games–not an easy feat as it is several states away and a hard ticket to get. She checked in frequently, and even helped me secure a part time job to “test the waters” in a different industry from the one I was used to working in. She’s just been there–steady, caring and ready with a listening ear.
When she left a voice mail last September and told me to, “Call her when I could; she had something she needed to tell me,” I knew it wasn’t good news. I could hear the strain in her voice. I got the voice mail late–after 10:30 on a Sunday night–but I knew I had to call. When we connected that night, she told me the worst possible news–she had breast cancer. In some ways, unfortunately, it wasn’t a total shock. Her mother was a breast cancer survivor and each of her two younger sisters had also waged battle with this terrible disease. But, even so, the news left my heart somewhere in the pit of my stomach and I found myself just feeling overwhelmed with concern.
She made the difficult decision to have a double mastectomy. She then underwent chemotherapy and radiation and finished her treatments in the Spring of this year. She lost her hair, missed a good deal of work, dealt with nausea, nerve tingling, exhaustion, difficulty doing most everything including getting out of bed and even walking. She even had to deal with a vision of what it would look like if her family moved on if she didn’t make it through by seeing the activities they were still participating in without her being able to join them. But, through it all, she didn’t waver in her faith and her will to keep going. I’m happy to report she’s looking good, feeling good, and coming to the end of this chapter in her personal journey.
It was what she said toward the end of our breakfast that solidified my desire to write about her this morning. I’m not even sure how the conversation initially made reference to my Mom (the namesake of this blog), but she told me, “I thought of her when I was going through all this. I thought of ‘Grace,’ and I knew that I wanted to handle myself with grace through this whole process.”
That you have accomplished, my very dear friend. That you have.
In tribute to all the SWOG’s out there that have fought this battle–please know that you are not alone.