Cancer Buddy

My friend finally lost her battle. One year ago she called me to tell me that she was on hospice. A few weeks after that, she called to tell me she was in remission. She had a full blown miracle.

We met when I was 5 or 6 at the apartment complex I grew up in. It was the place where all divorcees went to live and hence, I recall knowing her. She was way older… by five years and our paths didn’t cross again til I was in middle school and she, a senior in high school. My sister had been a stage hand or something in a play called, Stages and I remember seeing her all grown up!

Twelve and a half years ago, while at Gymboree, I heard that voice and heard her say her name; I’d made a B-Line to get to her. We had kids 5 days apart and from then on, we’ve been connected.

When I found out she was sick, I ran to the market and got every magazine, candy and snacks I could carry, and dropped them at her house to show her I am here.

During her sickness, I, too became sick. From that moment on, she went from friend to “cancer coach”.

She told me what to expect, asked lots of questions and was very curious that I was on a pill and not traditional chemo. She would listen to my fears and understood all the emotions I was experiencing.

In turn, I knew all that she was feeling. We spoke all the time, through her hospital stays, car services up to Sloane Kettering and while away on trips.

We would joke with each other, “if you don’t hear from me….” and she’d say, “you’re dead.”

She was a wonderful listener and she understood that nobody else really got it.

I would ask her why she is not afraid in the least to die and she just would reply, “I’m just not afraid. I worry about my son but…” …She even shared a story that had to the day, bothered her. It was the only thing on her mind she just couldn’t get over. I told her, “ohhhh, I got this. Don’t you worry, I will make sure…”

Anyway, while standing in line at her funeral, I saw someone and was reminded by her story. The one where she couldn’t die in peace. Then, I remembered my promise to her that eased some of her discontent at the thought of it.

So, I did what any good friend would do and I kept my promise.

I know that her story is not mine (only because she told me) and that as long as there are options, that is good (only because she told me). I can hear her voice and know the things she would say to me still… but I am all alone in my journey now.

Sure, I have plenty of friends and family, but I don’t have someone who knows what it is like to no longer have control over your own body.

Sit with that for a moment.

About Lady in Red

mom of 3
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1 Response to Cancer Buddy

  1. Anne Schenendorf says:

    My heart aches. A deep ache. I ache for her fella. I ache for you that she is not here next to you and that she is irreplaceable Ans you haven’t found even a mediocre second. I remember here about your cancer in the beginning of covid. I remember my sister sobbing for day, a usually tough cookie who has seen climbed more mountains than I. She went through 9/11, and somehow back there to work again. I’m not used to her falling apart and I remember that day vividly. Not even knowing you yet, I only knew the legend of you. As my sisters guy was at CHOP during Halloween one year- what did you do? Coordinate trick or treating of course! I remembered smiling hearing that he got even more than usual. I remembered hearing when the area got slammed with a snow storm and kids were stuck at school, who stayed with them? You of course. I knew of you. I have a deep love for protector Ans joy bringers to children. These humans are rare, but I know when one I spot them. My guys got to our school after second. I remember seeing you one day with a cape and a tutu. You’re class was as happy as an kid would be, being gifted magic in a teacher. I remembered smiling and laughing a little, loving seeing this. I remember an ache I my heart that my guys would never have you as a teacher. Yet, this year, they won the teacher lottery, and can finish elementary having experienced the best of the best- you. Oh my extraordinary of humans, it wrecks me and I can only hope to help you have everything you deserve: the world. But at least a cancer buddy…


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