Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Different Kind of Girls Night Out

Tuesday was a busy day filled with lots of friends.

The day began with Girls Night Out (GNO) with a twist. Instead of meeting at a restaurant for dinner, all the ladies in my GNO group met at one ladies home at the Jersey Shore. It is an annual August event for us. We met other when our children were in grade school together. I've only been in the monthly group since 2003 but I have known these wonderful ladies for years.

Girls Day at the Beach began with lunch and a short walk to the beach. Bathing suit on, sitting in our folding chairs, we gathered together in a big circle and chatted. We spoke about our children & grandchildren, about our tax bills due at the end of the month and about the latest book we read. In this group there is no jealously, every single woman is genuinely happy for the good news we share with each other. But we don't only share the good we share our painful experiences too and offer advice.

After about an hour on the beach the rain began. We laughed as we sat there initially in a light drizzle saying it would blow over. Well, the rain got harder and we heard a clap of thunder so we picked up our chairs and walked the short block back to the house. Once inside we lamented about how the rain was wrecking our day at the beach but as the conversation restarted we forgot all about the rain. Who ran into whom. Whose car was in the shop. Who is looking to buy a new home. What we have on our bucket list. What wonderful conversation. As the clock struck 4:30 I sadly bid my farewell. How I love these women. Women brought together by our children, who remain friends even as our children have children of their own.

After a bite to eat at home I went to my cancer support group. I have been going to this group since 2007 when it formed. It is moderated by a wonderful social worker. These women are brought together by their gynecologic cancer diagnosis yet we have become friends. We have ovarian, endometrial, uterine and vulvar cancer survivors. Some women , who are BRCA1 & 2have had both breast and ovarian cancer. Some ladies are newly diagnosed and in treatment, in active treatment for a recurrence and some are in remission. We gather for an hour and a half once a month to share our stories and how we feel both mentally and physically . Most of us are from my cancer center yet we welcome with open arms others like ourselves from other hospitals and cancer centers. We have all become close friends.

These friends know diagnostic test names, how to interpret test results, chemotherapy drug names & numerous treatment options. We discuss the pros and cons of different types of ports. But it is not always an easy group of friends to be with. I say that because in this group we hear what some would say are scary things and very sad things. We hear when cancer has returned. (I've had to share that news once already.) We hear a friend's cancer is growing and not responding to a drug. We hear about serious reactions to the drugs that are making us better. We hear about transfusions and low blood counts. We hear about drug shortages and postponed treatment. We hear when the decision has been made to stop treatment and spend time with family.

But we hear good news. We hear a tumor is shrinking, we see when a friend's hair is growing back and the scars that are healing. We hear about trips to Colorado, Alaska & Florida and get excited about future trips to Italy. We share photos from our children's graduations and weddings. We celebrate the birth of grandchildren. We raise awareness of ovarian cancer and attend survivor's day celebrations together. Sometimes our social worker has to almost kick us out the door because we want to talk more to each other. So many times we continue our conversations and updates by e-mail.

Some people will ask me why I still attend a support group since I am in remission. What they don't understand is that the women in this group are my friends. We just have a different kind of Girls Night Out.

Every Day is a Blessing! I am bless to be friends with some very special women.

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