Sunday, April 27, 2008

Breast Cancer Friends

Going through any serious illness is not a lot of fun. Breast cancer is no different. There are lots of down sides to it - realizing you are not immortal, going to the doctor's office a zillion times (unless you like that sort of thing), losing your hair (and in many cases one or more breasts), feeling tired & crappy a good part of the time, sitting or lying for hours getting chemo, getting a wicked sunburn from radiation, spending tons of money on treatment, drugs, travel back & forth (thank God gas wasn't as high then, I drove 140 miles every week for over a year for chemo and 80 miles every day for 30+ days for radiation).

That was the bad - but there was good - finding wonderful support and friends in unlikely places. I was very lucky and had two good friends at work, one had gone through the same journey a couple of years earlier and one went through the same time as me. They were teriffic.

One of the best things to ever happen to me was a great group of friends I met through the internet. Early after my diagnosis I found, which has a ton of information and lots of support through discussion groups. Every month a new group started of people starting chemo that month. In August 2004, I waited for a group to form and when it didn't I jumped in and posted first. One by one a great group formed. Some posted for awhile and then dropped out, but several of us stuck it out, through all our treatments and after. Sadly, we lost two wonderful sisters during this time - Karen and Frances. They were so young (30's), both wives and mothers and I still miss them today, so can just imagine how much they are missed by their families. Eventually, the ones of us still hanging in there switched over from to a Yahoo group and there we continue today. We don't post as much or as often as before, but I still cherish their support and friendship.

Two years ago, four of us - Nela (from Portugal), Kathy (Connecticut), Clare (from Canada) and I (Virginia) were able to meet in NYC for a wonderful weekend. I hope we can again and hope next time Patti & Candy will be able to come also.


Candyce said...

Diane, I did not expect this but tears welled up when I read this post. I was just emailing you about how much our group helped me and thought I would quick check in your blog.

I so hope we do gather together. I am so upset I didn't get to go.

I miss Frances and Karen so much.

Is it not amazing how close we feel and yet our relationship is maintained on the Internet.

For me, working shift work, I could not attend a face to face group. Thinking about it now--our group is pretty amazing--it is international. We had Frances from Australia and Nela from Portugal, Diane from Canada and the rest of us from very different parts of the US. It was interesting to compare treatment and feel each others culture and yet be going through the same thing.

You are such a dear and I enjoy your blog so much.

This post is excellent and I will treasure it.


Candyce said...

OOps, I meant Clare from Canada--I must still have chemo brain! (Although recent studies say it is not so--I wish they could have seen my kitchen floor that had melted spots from me forgetting something on the stove!)