'My person' has breast cancer. Now what?

'My person' has breast cancer. Now what?


'My person' has breast cancer. Now what?

She’s “my person.” She’s my five-minute dance party. Well, more like my five-minute howl-at-the-moon to musicals party. She’s my person.

Frenemies to besties, a journey neither of us can explain adequately, even after some 20 years of friendship. All I know is… she is my person.

Christina and Meredith?

Ethel and Lucy?

Thelma and Louise?

Romy and Michelle?

Betty and Wilma?

Their friendships are only a glimpse of the lifetime of adventures Sarah and I share — one that I fully intend to keep going because we promised each other we’ll be two old biddies causing a ruckus in the retirement home.

Batter’s up

Whatever life threw at us, we took the bat and hit as hard as we could. Sometimes we hit home runs, other times we struck out.  It didn’t matter, though, because she’s my person and I’m her person.

One of the youngest Gen X’ers and the oldest Millennials, we never really fit in one generation. So we made it our own.

From pretending to be preppy in high school at band camp to our emo and Gothic stages, one thing remained the same: There was nothing we wouldn’t do for one another. At the drop of a pin, we would pick up the phone and be there for each other; no questions asked.

When we became mothers, life changed, but we always found time to sneak away for much-needed mommy-bestie, dessert-and-wine night together. She’s my person.

Closer than sisters

When the “C” card hit me first after the birth of my oldest son in 2010, it was no big deal. One simple in-office procedure and it was over with, yet Sarah insisted she be there for me.

When it hit me again after my second son’s birth in 2012, it was Sarah who took me to that outpatient surgery. Two months later, it was Sarah holding my head in her lap as I sobbed until I passed out when my mother lost her battle to colon cancer on July 7, 2012.

In 2014, the ugly “C” word reared its head again, causing me to very prematurely go into labor with my youngest son one late-winter morning. It was Sarah who showed up, third only to my husband and mother-in-law.

Surgery in the following weeks showed cancer in my colon, which started a sleuth of testing and treatments. Sarah had talked to me any way she could during every treatment, through text messages, Snapchat, over the phone or in person.

She remained at my side

When every other friend returned to their busy lives, or simply disappeared, she stayed. She helped clean up my puke and held wash cloths over my forehead. She treated me as a normal person; every day was a normal day. She is my person.

In 2015, when we both thought I had won, the devastating news came again. This time, it was in my jaw. She did everything to make me laugh and be OK about losing half of my teeth and jaw on one side of my face. She was the first to crack a joke for me after six hours of surgery to remind me I was still alive.

And again, she held my hand and let me sob when we found out that I was diagnosed with Lynch syndrome. This basically means I will always battle some form of cancer all my life because of a mutated gene passed down to me by my mother — the same one that took her life in 2012.

Just this last month, I had two non-malignant cancer growths removed from both of my eyelids. But it was my person, my Sarah, who cracked jokes at the swelling and bruising just to get me to smile. It caused such hysterics my sides hurt from laughing. She’s my person.

The roles have reversed now, I’m terrified

But now, now it’s my turn to be her person the same way she has been my person.

Sarah found a lump in one of her breasts a month ago: Stage 3 breast cancer. But the most devastating caveat — precancerous growth has already begun in her other breast. Doctors are recommending a double mastectomy, along with a rather lengthy chemo schedule.

Sarah is one of the most talented hair stylists I know; frankly, the only one I trust to touch my hair after the many times it’s been burned by other stylists. The thought of losing her hair crushes her more than losing her breasts and, as her person, I am speechless.

See, Sarah and I share a lot in common: love of reading, enjoying a glass of wine, singing to musicals. But when it comes to girlie things, I’m not so good at it. Appearances just never were one of my things. Heck, as a mom of three boys, I’m lucky to have my hair brushed before walking out the door in the mornings. Not Sarah; she is dressed head to toe before she peeks out the door.

My words betray me. Will she be OK?

All of my cancers combined seem like a walk in the park compared to what my bestie is embarking on and, honestly, I’m scared. I want to tell her she’ll be OK. I want to tell her she is going to kick cancer’s butt. But is she?

We still haven’t found out a way to talk to her daughter — my goddaughter — about it yet.

So now what? What do I do? What do I say? I have no idea. Cancer changes you. It makes or breaks you. All I know is I’m determined to fight this alongside her. I refuse to let it break her, because she is my person.

After hellacious appointments, she posted on Facebook that she needed space from everyone and their well-meaning outpouring of support and love. As her person — well, I Snapchatted her. She doesn’t get space from me! I’m her person!

So we went on a bestie dessert-and-drinks night because now, I’m her person. We sat there and just laughed; yeah, we cried too. But mostly, we reinforced our promise to one another: to grow old together as old Betty’s in a retirement home driving everyone insane. I don’t want be alone, I don’t want to be without my person.

So this is our journey. Just two ordinary best friends, going through a cancer journey together, that we WILL win. My person has breast cancer. Now what? 

April and Sarah, 20 years of friendship, even through cancer.


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