I had lunch with a friend today who was a hormonal mess. First came the cancer. Then, the hysterectomy. Now comes the tug-of-war with her body as it adapts to a massively changed set of rules. She’s impatient. Can’t sleep. And the post-hysterectomy weight gain is making her feel terrible.
I was thrilled.
Not for her difficulties, but for the glass-is-half-full flip-side of the situation that is becoming more obvious as I watch so many friends deal with cancer. Suzann’s alive. She looks fantastic. Her acerbic wit is still intact and she remains one of my greatest confidants.
So despite how much the new reality of her body affects her, I chalk her story up as a victory. There have been a lot of victories in the decade since the first of my friends was diagnosed with cancer. All of them have had to fight so hard to get beyond their obstacles. All but one of them is still alive.
I lost my friend Bette to ovarian cancer in 2002 and have thought of her almost every day since. She taught me so much as I watched her fight to live while she was dying. Thinking of her grounds me when I get caught up in my day-to-day worries. The hassles of work or daily living are nothing
compared to cancer. The simplicity and reward that she found in her last year by creating a butterfly garden for her neighbors in her condo community showed me so much about life. One day, we went kayaking out to Caladesi Island. It was in the winter, yet she dove right into the Gulf because she thought the water looked beautiful.
So much of us fear diving in because we know it is cold. We miss so much living by holding back. But, Bette really lived until the end. Still, in the end, there was an ending. I miss her. I wish we could do one more lunch.
All these years after her death, I sat with my friend Suzann and thought about how much fun it was to just have lunch and download all of our stories and thoughts. I hate that she’s got to deal with all of these hormonal hassles, but I love that she is here to keep going. I love that we laughed about the mini-hamburgers she ordered for lunch and that we talked endlessly about everything from dogs to sales at Macy’s to our crazy siblings. Lunch was simply great.
It’s that simplicity thing that I learned from Bette.