Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Strength of Women

Three weeks ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. She was told it's likely that she's had the tumor for five years in spite of getting regular mammograms, which missed the growth until now.

Five years ago I was mourning the loss of one friend to lung cancer. Little did another friend know that five years ago cancer cells were gathering for a party in her breast.

Five years ago all three of her daughters were single. The family has grown to include two sons-in-law even as the cells silently grew into a tumor.

Five years ago one daughter anticipated becoming a forensic pathologist. Now she's training for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in an effort to keep people living. Her slogan is "Save Mom's Boobs (Dad Really Likes Them)."

Five years ago a couple of friends, including my recently diagnosed one, were lobbying for me to begin dyeing my hair because of the grey in it. Two years ago they threatened to take me out, get me drunk, and dye my hair when I passed out. I told them their plan was doomed to failure now that I knew it but assured them that if they somehow managed to succeed in getting my hair dyed I'd shave it off the very next day. They stopped bringing up the topic of hair dyeing because they know I meant it.

She had a lumpectomy and will be undergoing aggressive chemo and radiation. She has been told to expect hair loss. She has thick, luxurious hair. She decided to cut it short now reasoning that loosing short hair will be less traumatic than loosing long hair. One of her daughters is a hair stylist who took charge of helping her mom find a wig she will be happy with when the time comes. Then came another idea. Mother and daughters would dye a small section of hair pink for breast cancer awareness. A few friends were asked if they'd join in the dyeing (including yours truly), then a few more.

This weekend, till all was said and done, nearly two dozen women had bright pink dye applied to some small section of their hair in solidarity with one friend who is going to have a long road ahead of her. Others wanting a less permanent route had pink extensions added to their tresses. Some brought food. One brought bracelets and pins designed for breast cancer awareness. The stylist daughter brought lots and lots of dye and a friend to help. Their boss graciously allowed the use of the salon after hours at no charge. Another daughter who had hair almost to her waist cut off nearly 18 inches of hair to donate to Locks of Love for the making of wigs. Several of us began organizing a schedule for driving our friend to her daily treatments, which begin today, since she is not currently permitted to drive.

Forty friends gathered in support of one woman. In our midst was a baby girl who has yet to be aware of what surprises life can hold. We also had with us a woman in her 90's who has seen more than the rest of us can imagine. There were teenagers, including Calypso, who now sports a bright pink stripe. There were college students and middle aged women. There were daughters, sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and aunts. There was a party atmosphere some might have found irreverent. We were not gathering to celebrate a diagnosis of cancer but to celebrate that we are friends, that we will support the one among us who needs us most, that she is loved, that there is strength to be found among friends.

16 comments:

Cocotte said...

I'm glad that your friend is getting so much support, but it makes me mad, sad and angry that she did what she was supposed to do (mammograms) and she is still in this position.

Realliveman said...

With the bewst healthcare in the world, it saddens me to know that early detection always seems to late.

My mother-in-law had breast cancer so I know the hardships one has to go through to overcome it.

It's why I wear my pink braclet everyday and it's why I support the Susan B Coen foundation.

This is a serious issue and needs a serious resolution. Both the cause and the detection methods.

Cricket said...

Sorry to hear that, Lime. I will pray for you and yours. Between my wife's family and mine, there has been enough cancer to fill a small ward.

On the whole, I haven't minded aging. I think I'm a better person at 41 than I was at 18. Even with the usual aches and pains, I wouldn't want to go back.

The one thing that does give me pause is when the things that were never going to happen to us do.

furiousBall said...

i'm so sorry amiga. big prayers and love to your friend

Jazz said...

So sorry to hear this. And so angry that despite her doing everything she was supposed to do, it took them five years to find the tumor.

Your support will do her a world of good.

jinksy said...

We're all sisters under the skin...

Cooper said...

So do you have pink streaks??? Or did you go all out and tie-dye your locks?
Breast cancer is a bitch, and I know several women fighting the good fight....

Craig said...

Goodness, these are poignant times for you just now, aren't they?

Just yesterday, my college-age kids were telling me about this girl that they'd just recently met, and her incredibly sanguine, outgoing personality. When they told me her name, a shiver ran down my back - she was the daughter of a dear friend of mine, who had been a housemate of mine (in our community) back before either of us were married. It is now coming on 20 years since she died of breast cancer. So that was a very poignant moment for me, too. And the young woman, who must have been at most a toddler when her mother died, has definite resemblances to her late mother, which was poignant all over again.

{{{hugs}}} to you. . .

Craig said...

Oh, and just between you and me and the lamp post, I'm a big fan of the 'natural gray'. Molly would love to be going gray with me, but she's got her mother's hair-color gene; my MIL is 77, with barely a gray hair to be seen on her. . .

Mona said...

O Dear that is grim! I hope she survives this terrible state!

I had no idea that you streaked your hair pink for cancer awareness

~Dragonfly~* said...

Sometimes, with or without the best of technology we cannot predict the future or prepare for what Life gives us.... but what a beautiful celebration of friendship and support.

Logophile said...

sniff sniff
My best to your friend and I'm so glad she has all of you.

secret agent woman said...

Just this afternoon a patient who recently had a mastectomy said to me sadly, "I'm missing the sisters." We need a cure. All my best to your friend on the hard path ahead of her.

ttfootball said...

All the best to your friend. She will get thru with such wonderful support.

Jeni said...

What a fantastic way to show your support of a friend! The moral support you and the others of your group are providing are of an equal value to your mutual friend as well be the chemo, any surgical procedures and who knows what other type of treatments may be coming her way. Sometimes, when I think back over my days of treatments (Chemo/radiation and also physical therapy) it was the support of family and friends rallying behind me that really kept me motivated and that is ultimately the name of the game -to stay focused and motivated on the healing.

The Zombieslayer said...

Her slogan is "Save Mom's Boobs (Dad Really Likes Them)."

Nice. I can appreciate that sentiment.

Sucks about your friends who got cancer. Yeah, it's hit home here too. Wife's bestest buddy's little daughter is in chemo right now. She's just a kid. :(