Several weeks ago, as we were trying to schedule our weekly lunch date, my friend casually mentioned that she was going for a mammogram and wouldn’t be able to meet for lunch the following day. This is a common occurrence, of course, for friends to have mammograms. But when she told me this, I had a strange feeling about it. I asked her later how it went, and she said she thought ok, so I shoved aside my worry. The next week, though, she told me she had gotten a letter to call and schedule more views and an ultrasound. After that appointment, she called to say that it wasn’t good; the radiologist said she needed a biopsy on a spot in her breast and there was also a lymph node he was concerned about. She went back to her surgeon to do the biopsy; he was unable to do it in the office; it was scheduled for a few days later at the hospital. She was supposed to see him on the following Monday, but Friday afternoon he called her and told her that it was cancer. She called me as I was on an errand; I somehow managed to finish what I was doing and my car seemed to head straight to her office on its own. I remember trying to pray and not cry. When I got there, we did cry for a moment, talked for a bit, and I stayed with her, while she closed the office. Her husband was waiting for her at home, and she also knew that she would have to go and see to her mother.
I sent her a message on Saturday, and she answered back that she was having a lovely, peaceful weekend. And though, there was still a great struggle inside me, to the point of raising my fist to the sky and screaming, “Why?” I was able to lay down the anger after that, knowing she was at peace.
Yesterday, my friend had a double mastectomy. She seemed to sail through her surgery and the preliminary reports were good. After she was in her room, I got to observe a little bit. This surgery might slow her down, but she will continue to be all of the things she has always been. Her care and concern for others will not stop, even during her recovery. She is the woman spoken of in Proverbs who “laughs with no fear of the future.”
All of us, hopefully, are needed by others. My friend’s role as a wife, mother to two young adult children and grandmother of two darlings under the age of three, daughter, key person in her office, friend to many, encourager, and a person of great faith, make her a necessary presence in the lives of an astounding number of people. And while I am still working on the why for myself, I know that my friend has and will continue to handle her diagnosis well. I believe that she will win this fight and while doing so, continue to carve a beautiful legacy for her children and grandchildren. I hate that this has happened to her, but I am confident she will soldier through with an unmatched style and grace. It is a privilege to have a ringside seat as she shows us all how to be. Her courage and her strength will be legendary. It is a blessing to be her friend.
Anyone can give up; it's the easiest thing in the world to do. But to hold it together when everyone else would understand if you fell apart, that's true strength.
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