I admit, I didn't think it was possible. I mean, I knew it was possible, but I didn't think it was probable.
But it was both.
You have cancer.
I remember the moment in March when you said you found the lump. I remember our conversation about looking down, feeling around and thinking, "What the hell is going on in there?".
I remember the day you went for your appointment and they told you that it was a cyst and that it wasn't cancer, because cancer doesn't hurt.
How profoundly wrong they were.
I remember the day you found out that you have breast cancer and that you would be in the fight of your life.
I remember googling invasive ductal carcinoma and what it meant to have a grade three tumor. I
You are strong. You are an army veteran. You raised two boys almost to adulthood.
If anyone can kick cancer's ass, you can.
But still, I'm afraid. And I know you are too.
I remember you caring for your dad through his battle with pancreatic cancer. And I witnessed your hope and your strength to the end.
And as you prepared yourself to go to war, I watched you take charge and prepare your own home...ground zero for your fight. I saw you assemble an arsenal of recipes and healthy foods and broths to nourish you on your journey.
I saw you collect phone numbers and organize a schedule to allow for a day of rest after each treatment while you continued to work. As your father's caregiver, you learned so much.
I watched as you applied warrior paint: bright pink hair and a new pink ribbon tattoo that will read SURVIVOR when all is said and done. And we rejoiced upon hearing that you tested negative for BRCA-1 and BRCA-2...an initial victory to set the tone...an emotional respite from what was to come.
I felt the port that would deliver these first few months' worth of ammunition, Carboplatin and Taxol, to fight the enemy in this phase of your war, and what would be in place for the new recruits...the next round of drugs for the next phase, in due time.
You have been so smart in your preparation and your provisions. You have taken every step with such strength and grace, and you continue to do so every day. And now, four weeks in, the evidence of your preparedness and positive attitude show in your stamina and your peace of mind.
And still, I'm afraid.
By all accounts, the assault is working; the tumor is shrinking. Thank God.
But there are casualties. You knew the time would come. We both did.
With grace, you removed a bit of the war paint that no longer served you. It looked thin and scraggly...ridiculous, you said. It was time.
You know best.
You sent me the "after"..a photo of your self-buzzed head, and I smiled to myself at how your blue eyes seemed to shine more brightly...who knew that was even possible...while I cried with pride in your courage, with sorrow for your experience, with love for my sister-friend, and with fear for what could come next.
And when I saw you for myself, and it was just us...not me and you with cancer...or me and you with no hair...it was just us, just as it had always been.
I rubbed your fuzzy head because that's what I do. And then we laughed, shopped, ate, cried, and made vision boards with messages of hope and excitement for all the good that the universe will bring.
Hope is in no short supply.
In reality neither of us knows what comes next for either of us.
We'll continue on as we always have, since middle school...talking about boys, giggling about all things inappropriate, and having each other's back. like all good friends should.
And when it gets scary, we'll buck up, channel our inner badass, and take it one day at a time...because that's what we do.
And in the meantime, we'll still talk about boys, giggle about all things inappropriate, and have each other's back, because we do that too. And we always will.