When my phone rang at 7:30am last Thursday, I wasn’t surprised to hear my best friend’s voice on the other line; most of our conversations happen early in the morning when she is driving to work. What did take me by surprise were the words that came out of her mouth.
“I have cancer.”
I have heard those words leave the lips of both my dad and my sister Marci, plus far too many family friends. But this time, it was My Girl. My best friend of twenty years who is my rock and my guidepost. My fellow lover of all things musical theatre and the reason I love Janis Joplin. A healthy, successful, active woman, wife and mom of two young children who is only one month my senior. Her words did not compute.
My body froze but my mouth was able to move enough to utter the word,
“I have liver cancer.”
I wanted to sob but I pulled myself together as I knew the last thing she needed was a blubbering basket case on the other end of the line.
I asked a few more questions and as she continued with the not-so-pleasant details, it did not sound good. In fact, she made me promise to not look up her rare form of cancer on the Internet because it would tell me she only had six months to live.
Her words, still, did not compute.
She remained strong and calm throughout the conversation. I gained strength from her positive attitude, just as I have for the past twenty years and I fought off every instinct to fear the worst. If there is anyone in the world that can beat the insidious beast known as cancer, it is her.
This past Friday I received an email from her with the subject line “Good News.” I’ve never clicked a link so quickly in my life. Apparently the original diagnosis was incorrect and although it is definitely cancer, it is a different, more treatable form. Good news indeed.
As “replies to all” came flying into my inbox with messages from her other friends, I noticed many of them making reference to a get together on Saturday night. I immediately called one of our other friends to find out what the gathering was, found out they were all going out to dinner together and twenty minutes later I had rearranged my schedule for the weekend and had a ticket booked to San Francisco so I could surprise her. I also called our other friend who lives in LA and she immediately booked a flight too.
One day later I was hugging her in person, celebrating her good news and having heart to hearts about The Big C. It was surreal, to say the least, but it was comforting face-to-face time that I think we both needed.
It still does not compute, however, seeing her on Saturday made me even more confident that she is going to beat this thing. Her tenacity, determination and overall positive attitude are more than half the battle. It’s a battle I wish she didn’t have to fight, but one I know she is going to win.
A new chapter is beginning and while we wait for the happy ending to unfold, I ask that you, my dear Readers, keep her in your prayers (if you’re the praying type) and send all the positive vibes you can muster her way.