Monday, September 25, 2006


No, not me, but a dear friend has been diagnosed with cancer. It seems to be an aggressive form. One day there was apparently nothing there and the next day she felt a large lump.

I’d like to rail about the medical system—and how it took 4 weeks for her to get the mammogram and another week or two before they could do the biopsy. I’m waiting to hear how soon she can have surgery and what else the oncologist will recommend.

If you haven’t read it and can find a copy, Barefoot in the Grass is a wonderful book by Judith Arnold. It’s a romance novel about a survivor of breast cancer. I’ll be giving my copy to my friend.

I want to rail at the unfairness of fate that my friend had to first fight Hepatitis C and now breast cancer. I remind myself that she was told, when diagnosed with the Hepatitis C, that she only had three years to live and that was almost 15 years ago.

We’re telling each other jokes and citing statistics on all the women who have survived breast cancer. And secretly crying about it, too. This is one of those times I wish I wasn’t so far away. Fortunately I’d already planned to be in New Jersey in October and I’ll get to see her then.

I’m a writer. That means I know I’m storing up all my memories of these moments, these days and weeks of worrying, and sooner or later the emotions will pour out onto the page. Because that’s what we writers do. We put into words the fears and hopes and all the other emotions human beings feel. So that others will know they’re not alone. So that others will know what it’s like to feel these things.

I watch my friend and I admire her courage and ability to make jokes. I know it’s what let her survive the Hepatitis C and it’s what will get her through this as well. And I wish we didn’t live in a world that had things like cancer to deal with.