Last week, I turned to my husband and said “I’m so happy I am having lunch with M today. It is great to have a friend who is not an ovarian cancer survivor. Hopefully we can be friends a long time. “ Then I got teary and said “I am so tired of making friends and losing them to cancer” He gave me a big hug, I took a deep breathe and walked out to the car to meet M.
On that day I was thinking of my friend S. W. whose funeral I attended the week before. I was thinking of her husband and her two teenage daughters. And I was feeling sad for the friend that I had lost. And I was a bit angry too. I started to wonder if it was worth it spending time working on friendships that are ending so quickly.
S.W. and I were more than two women who had ovarian cancer and were treated by the same gynecologic oncologist. Sure that is how we met but with time and effort a deep friendship evolved. It wasn’t easy. We both had family and advocacy commitments. She had work commitments and treatments. Yet we still made a point of checking in with each other on Facebook. And we made a effort to carve out time to have lunch with each other. We worried about each other during super storm Sandy. We celebrated the new car she bought and she shared with me how she hoped she would put lots of miles on that car. We talked about the college tours she was taking with her daughter and how wonderful our husbands were. We were more than just two women with cancer. We were friends.
Then I started to think about the friends whose lives were lost due to ovarian cancer. There was Sharon who had the best sense of humor. She would have made a great stand up comedian. And then there was Rita. We used to stand outside after our support group and discuss college football never realizing how much time had passed. I would meet Pam for dinner before our support group and she shared her love of Jimmy Buffet and traveling. One year we both went on cruises to Alaska and when she came back she gave me the best tips on what to see and clothes to bring. There was Kim who loved wrestling. I still laugh when Fandago shows up for a WWE match on TV as I remember how she loved how he pronounces his name - “Faaaan dangggggg OOOOOO”. There was Deidre who helped me decorate a table for a Tea. I never asked her to help but she just jumped right in and brought things to add to the design. I could go on and tell you about Gail, Ellen, Denise, Cindy, Jayne , Nicole , Courtney and Shirley. All of these women were special to me. They were special for their faith, courage and talents. I am not sure if our paths would have crossed if it were not for ovarian cancer .
One of the most difficult parts of being a cancer survivor is losing others diagnosed with the same disease. I‘ll be honest with you it hurts and it makes you very aware of your own mortality. But when I stop and think I realize that my life has been made richer because of these friendships.
Every Day is a Blessing!