Almost eight years ago I received a phone call from Diane, the sister of my very best childhood friend, Cindy. She called to tell me that Cindy had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I fell apart. I’d never had a close friend with such a horrid disease and for it to be this woman who had been more to me than just my best friend, well, it was too much to take. After I hung up with Diane I remember sliding off my chair and onto my knees, crying and trying to pray, but not able to say anything more than “Oh God”. That’s okay. He knew what my soul was begging for.
Cindy and her husband had been given the choice between a lumpectomy and a mastectomy and they decided on the mastectomy. After the surgery they were told the cancer was more involved than originally thought so she would have had a mastectomy anyway. She went through chemo and radiation and all the horrible side effects that accompany such treatment. Cindy had also recently been diagnosed with ciliac disease and her immune system was already suffering, compounding the problems that come with chemo.
Through all of it, though, she was the epitome of faith and grace, relying on God for strength and comfort. I remember talking to her and thinking to myself, I can’t imagine going through something so horrible and being so strong. She quickly became my hero.
Ironically, it was a little over two years later that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I relied on my faith in God and always thought about Cindy and how she had fought the disease so valiantly and successfully.
Last Thursday as we were on our way down to Lynchburg, I received a Facebook message titled “Cindy” from Diane. It said, She was just diagnosed with breast cancer on her other breast. Please pray for her Jen!! So I did. And I am. And I will. Best case scenario it’s a new cancer and not a recurrence or a metastasis. The doctors seem to feel this is the case, but they won’t know for sure until her mastectomy on the 15th of October.
I talked to Cindy on the phone tonight. Several times, as a matter of fact. She lives in North Central Canada and was in the middle of her five-hour drive from Edmondton to her home. Apparently there are hills and valleys because we kept losing each other. When we were able to actually talk we mostly laughed. Laughed! The woman is going in for her second mastectomy in two weeks and we were cracking each other up.
What she did tell me, however, was that she has stage 3 breast cancer and at least one node is involved. As always, she won’t know the extent of treatment until after the surgery, but she’s not looking forward to chemo again. Thankfully treatment has gotten much better in the last 8 years so I’m very hopeful she’ll do better this go around. She’s also not looking forward to losing her hair again. But we laughed over the memory of her middle son telling her she looked like the trash man the last time.
Ironically again, it’s breast cancer awareness month. Seven years ago October took on a new meaning to me because of Cindy. Five years ago it was because of my own journey. Four years ago it was my mom. This year we’ve come full circle. I’m aware. I’m VERY aware. I’m so aware that October used to be painful to me (you can read this post from 2007 to see just how painful.)
Treatment has changed significantly in the last eight years. As much as the commercialism of Pink October makes me squirm, I have to acknowledge that money raised really has made a difference. My hope and prayer is that these improvements will aid Cindy in breezing through this new diagnosis and that she’ll kick butt yet again!