When I attended the Melissa Ethridge concert last month, I had almost forgotten her song inspired by her battle with breast cancer. Then I heard it with new meaning.
A couple years ago, I got the most gut wrenching email from a friend of mine. She is someone who had just experience the tragic event of losing a child, and she was emailing to say she was just diagnosed with breast cancer. I couldn’t breath when I read it. I wanted to cry for her. She was considered very young to be diagnosed, and I knew that couldn’t be good. She was pretty straight forward with her diagnosis – aggressive breast cancer, not responsive to any of the suppression drugs currently used. If she beat it, it would likely come back later.
The next 9 months were filled with emails about chemo, losing her hair, losing her appetite, losing weight she didn’t have to lose, frustration over how she felt, frustration she was menopausal, and focusing on the light at the end. It wasn’t all sad. I made her a “booby scarf” (www.knitty.com) and sent it her way. That made her laugh. When she got done with radiation, she took the final step in her treatment, a double mastectomy with full reconstruction. We joked over her desire for an upgrade…and she got one. The surgery went well, and she was starting to feel good.
Recently, she just finished her cycle of infusion treatments. She feels great. Looks good. And she and her hubby adopted a beautiful little girl. So far, so good. As she said, she races each year in hopes of a cure that will allow her to see her daughter’s graduation, marriage, and children.
Another friend was diagnosed soon after my first….after her first mammogram. Her mom was a breast cancer survivor, so she was surprised it hit her so fast. My friend took it all with a smile on her face. She was upbeat and positive about the prognosis. We helped her shave her head….and I cut off all of my hair (12 inches) in support (can’t shave it due to the job). She was tired…radiation was hard. She fought fatigue. She fought radiation burns. And, she simply fought.
What is ironic about my friend’s battle is the fact we had been walking the Race for the Cure for the past several years. We had commented the year before the number of “celebration” signs compared to the “in memory” signs. The celebration signs seemed to grow. Last year, she walked her first race as a survivor. And, this year, she will do it again.
So this year, my family will walk together. We will walk for both my friends, we will walk for the school secretary who battled it a few years ago, my friend’s mom, and others. I have two daughters, so I race for them too. I will race for the woman at work battling it now. To quote Melissa, ” I run for life”….