I have not blogged in a long time. And it’s not because I haven’t wanted to. It’s more like, it’s just been too difficult. And it’s been difficult because a friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer. And she is young. A decade younger than me. And, sometimes she reads my blog. So it’s just been difficult. To say something. To say anything. To say the right thing.
Towards the end of last year, my friend went for a mammogram. It was one of those things. Random. One of the things we do. We put the robe on. We get squashed into that machine. And then we get dressed and go home. Depending on where the screening is done, we may get a rose on the way out. But my friend, she did not get to go. They took more pictures. And then they told her that they had found something. And that’s how it all started.
There were tests. It was cancer. I was with her right after she found out. She got an oncologist. And a surgeon. She had a mastectomy. They found that the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes. But the number was still stage two. Stage two. So close to state one. Just one away.
I learned about things like drains and what types of supplies are needed after surgery. There were tests on the tumor itself. Apparently there are the American tests and then there are the European tests. The results help dictate the treatment needed. We talked about how weird it was that part of her was going to be gone. Cut out of her. Gone. The results of these two tests were completely different. But it was decided that she would have chemotherapy. The plan was two rounds. Radiation. And then on drugs for like ten years.
She was getting ready for the chemotherapy. Trying to decide how many folks she wanted to talk to about their experiences. I was feeling nervous for her. I know that chemotherapy is awful. And radiation is no walk in the park. But it was a finite amount of time. There was an end game. It would suck but then there was that proverbial end of the rainbow. We talked about how for the rest of her life she would be worried. She talked to someone who had kept their port in well after their treatments had ended.
Then she got ready to go and have her port put in. She went that morning and they did not have her paperwork. She was upset. They ended up postponing the procedure. And, that ended up being good news. That, along with her hairdresser moving the appointment to cut her hair very short, turned out to be a good thing. But it didn’t feel that way at the time.
Her doctor sent her for some additional tests. A CT. A bone scan. To establish a baseline. I was trying to be supportive. She told me that she was tired of people telling her that it would be fine. Because, it kept not being fine. I don’t think I ever said that. It felt like bachi to me.
Last week Tuesday, I happened to be at the Capitol. A couple of co-workers and myself were doing some research. And then we got the call. The call that the bone scan results were not good. That the cancer had spread to my friend’s bones. And she immediately was promoted to stage four. Just like that. And it all changed. No more chemotherapy. More screening tests. And just a lot of uncertainty.
Our mutual friends met up with her that day around lunch time. They told me afterwards that they really like when I show up because there are less awkward silences. But if I am honest, I just didn’t want to go. I wasn’t sure that I could say anything. I wasn’t sure if I could not cry. But that seemed like the biggest dick move. To not go. So I went. I went and when things got too quiet, I babbled on about my broken hairdryer.
Someone close to me has a family history of the disease. Aunts. Cousins. And while it is never a good diagnosis. The majority of these folks are okay. And this person kept saying this to me. That it will be okay. And I kept saying that no two people are the same. No two cases the same.
I went away this weekend and spent two days feeling sad. Trying to figure out what I would continue to say. What I could do. Not sleeping. Crying. And then after two days, I figured it out. The platitudes that I have been hearing my entire life. All of those things about seizing the day. Living in the moment. I understood. And I understood that just like I couldn’t use all the other examples to assume a good outcome, I couldn’t do the same and assume a bad one. And I understood that every moment of every day is outside of my control. That no matter what I do, it can all change in a second. And I don’t know the outcome. And she doesn’t know the outcome. But we have today. And I saw her yesterday. And I hugged her. And I have no more assumptions. Good or bad.