Wednesday, August 11, 2010

My Girls

I know I have waited too long to post because people have started asking, in hushed voices, "Is everything OK?" I apologize for the extended blog silence. Yes, everything is OK. I am here, I am happy, and nothing major has happened with my health.

Everything is actually fabulous! I have just been joyfully living life in-between scans. This blog is a wonderful tool for me, but it can also be quite emotional to revisit feelings and thoughts. For the past few weeks, I found I couldn't write anything. I just wanted to not revisit any cancer-fighting feelings. I just wanted to be "normal". The next set of scans are already coming up on September 1st, but for the past three weeks I have been happy,  relatively "healthy", and I have taken advantage of that time to visit my best friends.

From Boston to New York, New York to Baltimore, back to Boston, and then on to Chicago, I have been jet setting from city to city for birthdays, beach trips, and weddings. Basically, I have been enjoying life as all 27 year olds should! That time with My Girls has made me want to write a little ode. An Ode to My Girls. So I am breaking my silence with a love letter of sorts!

Since my diagnosis, I feel as though I am living in that movie "Groundhog Day." I am forever 21 years old. Whenever doctors talk about me to their colleagues they say something along the lines of "caucasian otherwise healthy female diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at 21 years...". I also revisit the age and the big diagnosis often when I speak with survivors or at high schools and colleges or with the media about my diagnosis.

Since I am always stuck at 21, and since I now celebrate good scan results or cancer-versaries, my birthday has kind of taken a back seat. Often when I make big plans for a birthday trip or birthday party or birthday dinner, life has intervened. My 22nd birthday I was so frail and sick from starting chemo, I just didn't know if I could do much of anything. For my 25th birthday, my life had been thrown upside down just a few weeks prior with the sudden death of my father. When I turned 26, I was going every week for chemo treatment and my blood counts were dropping so I was pretty much celebrating in bed!

Long story short, since the big 2-1, many birthdays could have passed without my noticing! But...I say "could have" because I am blessed with the best group of girlfriends this side of heaven.

My Girls never let an opportunity for celebration pass without the appropriate amount of fun! My Girls always remember, and they always surprise me with plans. For example, I turned 27 in July (Happy Belated Birthday to me) and they set up a Birthday Rodeo complete with live music, BBQ, cowboy hats and a Dave Matthews Concert!

My Girls are family. They know me better than I know myself. They know me so well that they know what's best for me! When I am spewing objections about how everyday seems to be the Bridget Show. When I refuse to plan yet another special day to celebrate my life. When I object to visitors in the hospital claiming all I want to do was sleep, my girls show up with People Magazine in tow and they make me feel my age, which is a gift beyond anything I can ever give in return. For those few precious moments when I am giggling with My Girls, I am able to forget all of the cares and worries and responsibilities. Instead, I can just belly laugh.

They are not afraid when I turn green with nausea. It is not below them to spend an entire afternoon and evening snuggling in bed with me because I am too tired to go out. When I am willing to go out, they realize I can't drink a ton and so we do something special like bowling, riding bumper cars, or seeing a concert.

These women have taught me that thoughtfulness isn't showering someone with gifts. Friendship doesn't mean spending an exorbitant amount of money to spend time together at the latest and greatest hot spot. We don't even have to go out for a meal to have a good time.

True thoughtfulness, true friendship just means being there. My Girls don't expect me to "talk about it". There is no pressure. We pick up exactly where we left off, and, no matter what tragedies or huge changes have happened to all of us, we can always find one another to forget and to be surrounded with laughter. We laugh until we cry. But when the crying comes, and it does come, for all of us not just for the Sickie, we all know we are surrounded: surrounded with warm hands and long arms, shared tears and kisses.

I am blessed with so many true friends and with so much support. I don't know what I did to deserve it or how I got so lucky. As a child, I always bemoaned my lack of friends. I was always the kid at recess without any friends. Then one day, I woke up with this group of fabulous, successful, and funny young women.  Thank you, ladies, for supporting me when it is often you who needs support. Thank you for helping me feel normal and for keeping me sane, but most of all thank you for keeping me real. Living with breast cancer can make me narcissistic or keep me from seeing the forest for the trees. Spending time with each of you keeps me from getting swallowed by the big black hole that is "living with cancer." You help me to realize that all I'm really doing is living.