My best friend of 20 years was diagnosed almost a year ago. She wants me to share this story which reflects on brain cancer, friendship, and support.
My best friend of 20 years was diagnosed almost a year ago. She has brain cancer, and the tumor is in a locale which is inoperable. She is a fighter and her determination is fierce. It's hard to know what to say or do for someone you love so much, and so, I wrote. It's a piece that reflects on brain cancer, friendship, support and more for both the patient and the friend. She wants me to share it....
New school, new cliques, new grade, new fashion...I was drowning in newness. For the first time ever, I viewed my parents as evil-doers, whose sole purpose in life was to ruin mine. Come on moving to a new town at the start of my junior high years? If we had stayed put, my future would be solid. I would have friends, a posse to protect me from the cruelty of adolescents. Instead, I'm standing in a sea of tweens -- laughing, joking, and enjoying themselves and their new grown-up status as junior high kids.
Lost is how you describe a toddler in a department store. But in that scenario, salespeople quickly scoop up, coddle and coo the adorable child, all the while paging for the parents to come to the cosmetic counter, where little Susie is getting a little lipstick and blush. The distraction eases her anxiety and stops the tears. Lost is not how you describe me. Floundering, panicking, cursing my loving parents in my head loudly this is a more accurate portrayal. With no friends, I had no chance.
Obviously, I did not succumb to the perils of junior high, or even those often-worse case scenarios of high school. I am a productive member of society, and my scars of adolescents have all healed...for the most part. How did I survive?
I was not offered home school. We did not move. I made it through alive because of the great friends I made, which coincidentally was on that very first day when I thought I would drown. That first day, when I thought my life was over and I was doomed to live my life friendless and an outcast, the greatest people threw me a life vest. One of those life vests was Murf.
I'd like to say we became friends instantly, however, I was new to the group and the dynamics were a bit tricky. There were 3 of them, and I was allowed entrance to the group because Molly and Hillary had gotten into a disagreement that day. Being new, I was identified as a possible replacement. Although I didn't end up actually replacing anyone, I did become a member of what I can only describe as the coolest, dorkiest group of friends a girl could want.
Murf and I connected quickly and easily. We shared the same love of dorkiness and embraced it with enthusiasm. Our friendship solidified as we shared the work for classroom assignments, homework and the occasional quiz answers.
Fast forward 20 years, yes, 20 years. And we're both entrenched in lives we never imagined would be ours. Through the years, we'd stayed close, but maybe not as close as we thought we would. Our friendship didn't fizzle and it didn't quite hibernate either. It really just took a back seat to our lives at times, but it has always been there. We pick up, never really remembering where we left off, but feeling like it was only yesterday we last spoke.
The beauty of true friendship is that you are cemented with super crazy glue to each other. You can't shake'em off, even if you tried.
This past year, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. My fun-loving, car-dancing, successful, smile-inducing friend is in the battle of a lifetime. She's not my friend with brain cancer; she's my fun-loving, car-dancing, successful, smile-inducing friend. She just happens to be dealing with a persistent tumor that just won't get the hell outta here!
I called the moment I heard. Again, those familiar feelings of drowning, being lost, confused, anxious drenched from head to toe as she detailed the news. How the hell is this possible? Why? Why her? Why now!? I cried by myself more times that I let on to anyone. I prayed although it had been some time. I had no idea what to do or say. So, I ordered a dancing gorilla for her birthday. It seemed like the thing to do.
She is 10 months into the battle, and she's as feisty and determined as she was on the cougar basketball team. I have learned not to question what I say to her or what I do for her, as she can see through it instantly. If our friendship suffered the same way she suffers from the effects of chemo that would be yet another tragedy about brain cancer, so I try to be an honest, fun, encouraging friend. It seems like it's not enough, but it's all I can do & all I know she expects.
I pull from my childhood memories and use them as a map to this new set of life rules. We never really addressed the problems, concerns, issue of our lives with our friends unless they needed to talk about it. We didn't force them to tell us their deepest, darkest fears; we just knew they existed. We were always there for each other, and what's great is that we always will be. The brain cancer is a part of her, but it's not her. Our friendship is not to make each other feel like the world is going to finally treat us right, but to remind us that we don't have to face that world alone.