A few days ago, after publishing this post about pulling Riley from Hebrew School, I had a long email chat with a girlfriend who was going through her own similar scheduling conflicts, and who ultimately, was the catalyst for me to make my decision. With both of our husbands working in Iraq, we communicate often, offering support during the highs and lows of single parenthood.
But this week's conversation wasn't as light hearted and sarcastic as usual. It had a far heavier tone to it, for she confided in me about having some medical tests done, and being scared to get the results. More specifically, she had a mammogram and a biopsy, and she was anxiously awaiting to hear the news.
Not knowing what to say, I made my usual attempts to be witty, to be positive, and to offer another angle for why she may have pain. Couldn't it just be a cyst? Maybe she strained herself picking up her two year old son? She's a healthy thirty-something year old girl. Nothing could be wrong. Right?
I kept in close contact with her over the next few days, sending text messages, and emailing when I could. But how do you continue to have a conversation about something that may or may not be happening? How do you talk about "the dreaded C word" with someone you know ... so young and vibrant ... without thinking about your own mortality? How do you make small talk with someone when there's clearly an elephant in the room?
As I drove home late yesterday afternoon from a birthday party with Sheridan, I sent my girlfriend a text message while at a stop light, asking her if she found out where her family had been posted next year. We had been assigned last week, and she was bound to find out any day where they were heading. Her response, "You don't want to know." Not sure what that meant, and only thinking that her husband didn't get one of his top choices for their next overseas assignment, at the next stop light I sent a follow up text asking, "why?"
Cancer. My girlfriend just found out she has breast cancer.
I pulled the car over and burst into tears. How? Why? What is she going to do? So many questions. So much to think about. So much support to lend.
The rest of the story isn't mine to tell. Only my friend can do that.
But what I can do is urge everyone who's reading this to touch themselves today. Feel your boobs. Grab your spouse's balls. Heck, grab your neighbors boobs. Or balls. I don't recommend giving anyone a rectal exam ... but I will stress that if something, anything doesn't feel right (no matter where that special place may be), please call your doctor.
I don't normally proselytize here ... but even remotely thinking about how my girlfriend, who also has 3 kids and a hubby in Iraq, is going to go through this on her own. Well ... it gives me chills. It could easily have been me.
Schedule your annual exam. Give yourself monthly breast exams. The life my friend saved by doing this was her own.
And if you'd like to offer your own support to her, I know she could use it.