True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back to the light.
— Steven Aitchison
I have written before about friends; the ones you have for certain periods of your life and the ones that are there for the long haul — both of equal value. But something happened yesterday that has made me add a new type of friend to my list — the one that is there for you when something crappy goes down, this is the friend that you should never take for granted.
So, yesterday, after a week of rushed doctor visits, ultrasound appointments and a ball of stress developing in my gut — I found out that I have breast cancer, which has kindly spread to the lymph node.
After leaving the doctor in the morning, I spent the next few hours texting and emailing people — friends from the various parts of my life which are going to be somewhat affected by this turn of events (work, dragon boating, writing group); I tried ringing, once, but lost the calm I thought I had within the first minute of the conversation.
I didn’t share my news for sympathy. I believe in being open about things, especially if they are going to affect other people. I wanted people to know about what was going on, because it is easier to tell now rather than wait until I am in the thick of things and then saying, ‘Oh … by the way …’ This is me — it’s how I deal with things, but I know it’s not for everybody.
The outpouring of love and support I received floored me. I’ve had offers of cooking, transport, hand-holding and ears which will just listen. A common theme was, ‘Just say the word and I’ll be there to help, whatever you need.’ One particular friend went out of her way to talk to people who I couldn’t. Another has offered to be a support and contact for my daughter. And I have had offers of support and conversation from two friends who have been through this themselves.
All of this coupled with multiple messages telling me I am strong and I’ve got this.
I have got this. Cancer just better watch its back. And its arse.
And yes, I am strong, but although each and every message I received brought tears to my eyes (and many times, streaming down my cheeks), I know I am stronger because of the support of my friends.
This is my thank you to those people. I don’t usually like asking for help; but this time, I am going to make myself do it.