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.