Fuck Cancer! You Can’t Take My Friends!

Fuck Cancer! You Can't Take My Friends!

I don’t write a lot about the touching and beautiful parts of my day. I like to save those thoughts for the dark parts of my day, like now when the kids are finally at school and all I feel like doing is lying in the fetal position and drinking litres of coffee. Which would mean I wouldn’t be lying in bed much longer because, bathroom. But I am planning on making an exception today.

I have had the good fortune to spend time lately with people in my life who are struggling with cancer. Wonderful women who inspire me and take me out of the dark to shine brightly through their own darkness.

I can’t say that I have been the best of friends to these women during their illness. I have done what I can but don’t feel it is enough. But I have learned a lot about myself and about the strength of character in the friends I choose. OK, so both of those things are about me. Did you really expect anything else?

My childhood friendships were scattered. I was not in the cool kids group in high school. I was friends with people in that group, but I was also friends with stoners, jocks, book nerds, band geeks and theatre folks. I was always trying to find who I was and always losing the map.

Then I became a mom.

Sure, I still have some BC (before children) friends, but the ones I think about the most, talk to the most and rely on the most are those friends that I met after kids. One of my first parenting influences was a fabulous mother by the name of Fantasia (Not her real name but I think she would appreciate it). Fantasia is a larger-than-life personality with a smaller than norm house and the biggest of hearts you would ever find. When she found out that there were new mothers on the waiting list for a mothers programme in her neighbourhood, she just started one of her own in her house. We exercised for an hour and then talked for an hour every Wednesday while lovely ladies looked after our infants in the basement. It was my saviour.

One day we were talking and Fantasia asked each of us to say something that we did for ourselves every day. I was fifth in the circle and I was sweating. I didn’t do any of the things these other mothers did for themselves every day: read, call a friend, sit down with some chocolate, watch their favourite show. I was barely able to make it every Wednesday and I had to congratulate myself on that each week. My turn and I said ‘All I can think of is I make sure I have a shower every day’. Seems so simple, but to some of the ladies in that room, it was monumental. Fantasia practically squealed. That is the moment I realized the friends I made after kids would understand me in a totally different way than the ones I had had for a lifetime. That was also the moment I understood them. They had each prioritized something for themselves everyday and the shower would have to wait. I prioritized the shower and the show would wait (my priorities have changed BTW).

About the same time I was part of a public heath group called Baby Comes Home for new mothers with questions for a nurse. I was chatting with one of the other mothers after class and mentioned Thunder Bay, my hometown, actually by accident. A wonderful woman came bounding over and asked if I had mentioned Thunder Bay because she was from there. We became sisters that day and I have valued her input on my life’s decisions, my weakest moments, my perceived failings as a mother and wife. She has wiped my tears and told me to stop giving a fuck and handed me a glass of wine and some cheese. She had kidnapped me and brought me to someone who could help when I needed it. I will call her Bestie. Bestie truthfully is the sister I chose and I could not have done the parenting-at-home thing without her. She is my backup carpool, my Wednesday morning chat and my forever friend.

Both of these ladies are battling cancer. I can’t even tell you how much they mean to me without busting into tears because they would both tell me to just stop. So I will (not). The tears are because I am frightened for sure, but also because I am, again, inspired by these women. I don’t know if either of them realize how important they have been in shaping my parenting and my choice in friends. I need friends who can tell me to shut my pie hole and put up my feet. I need friends to show me that being chill around your kids when they are climbing radio towers and roofs is the best way to get them down. I need friends to drop everything when one of my kids does not come home at the appointed hour. I need friends who are ok with me if I shower and if I don’t. So that is who I choose.

I am so fortunate to have found the friends I have. I am amazed that they accept me despite my obvious idiosyncrasies. I think they are all the bees knees. I am lucky.

So I want to raise a glass to inspirational friends and repeat after me: Fuck cancer! Leave our friends alone!

 

Is is with great sadness that I update this post. Fantasia lost her battle with cancer but won in the battle of life. I will miss her and the world is one star short. 

If you want to spread the love, consider donating. Cancer belongs to all of us, and the solution to it is everyone’s responsibility. Please donate to the #CIBCRunfortheCure today to support breast cancer research: http://bit.ly/1Vz0Z68

For all other cancers consider supporting your local cancer society or the Canadian Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.ca/en/get-involved/support-us/make-a-personal-donation-on/?region=on

Finally, if you want a really good cry watch this YouTube video. Kristine out.


Comments

  1. I’ll drink to that (well maybe after I leave work)! Fuck you, cancer! Nobody likes you!

    Nice post, Kristine. I know I wanted to break into tears several times. 🙁
    kdcol recently posted…When today really means tomorrow, or maybe the day after thatMy Profile

  2. I had part of my lung removed 2 years ago (5 years AFTER I quit smoking) and it’s due to friends and even strangers who held “prayer groups” for me that I made it through. With almost NO drugs. What an ass I am. Who turns down drugs? After major surgery? Legally?!?!? Still, knocking on wood, as I still have 3 years to go before the “cancer free” announcement it made. But thank you guys, for your good wishes. I’m sure it helped. Now, can I get one of you to “volunteer” to clean my house if there’s a next time so I don’t come home to 6 inches of cat fur? (Kidding. Sort of.)

    • I will come and clean your house to the same standard I clean my own. Come to think of that, it will not be that helpful so I’m glad there won’t be a second time and I won’t be needed.
      I had to talk Bestie into filling her prescriptions and she felt so much better–because that was what they were supposed to do! Let you relax so your body isn’t stressed and can heal. I will add you to my good news post in 3 more years (although you are already a good news post). Congrats on kicking cancer’s ass!

  3. Awwww… this was so touching Kristine. And this is a totally sincere “awwww” and not a sarcastic one. Damn, I haven’t yet lost anyone is my age group to cancer but as we’re all getting older, I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. I’m not ready.

    Hopefully you shared this article with your friends. I know it will mean a lot to them. I hope in the future you’ll write an update post that includes a happy ending for your friends.
    Gina W. recently posted…I Smell Like Grandpa after an Afternoon at the WhorehouseMy Profile

  4. Fuck off cancer! Leave Fantasia and Bestie alone, as well as the rest of us and our friends and family. You’ve taken way too many of our loved ones already. We’re gonna kick your ass eventually so you might as well just pack it in now.

    I’m really sorry about your friends, Kristine. They sound like the kind of gems I wish I’d had when I was going it alone with two special needs babies who were only 18 months apart. I’m so glad you found them when you did. I didn’t find my best mom friend until my daughter was 7 years old. It made all the difference in the world. Then I moved 2000 miles away from her 4 years ago and the next thing I knew she had breast cancer. I’m happy to report that she’s fine now, as are my sister and my mother who both also had breast cancer. Please keep us updated about Fantasia and Bestie if you feel like sharing.

    P.S. I know that I don’t REALLY know you, but I have a strong feeling that you’re being a much better friend than you think you are. xoxo

    • That’s what they both said 🙂
      I will update when there are updates. Special needs kids need a special mom and mom friends. Sounds like you found a gem. Keeping them close when they are far away is hard.

      • Ha! Then my strong feeling was right. 🙂

        I think that when someone is seriously ill, especially a friend who’s been very good to you, it’s almost impossible to feel like you can do enough for them or be a good enough friend. What you want to do the most—make them better—you can’t. The most you can do is be there for them to talk to, and be your funny self when they don’t want to talk or think about being sick. And, of course, takeover whatever responsibilities you’re able to without them having the burden of asking. I’m sure you know all of that—sorry if I sounded all lecture-y. It’s just that I’ve been there and I know how shitty it feels to be the friend, so maybe I’m reminding myself I’ve done my best.

        And you’re right, it’s hard to keep your precious friends close when you live so far away, and when they get cancer it’s uber frustrating!

        • Why don’t we just stop cancer then? We work on artificial intelligence even though they predict it will be the demise of people. Get the money in the hands of researchers and, for God’s sake, get the researchers to stop working in silos and start working together. I feel a rant coming on…

  5. I can so relate to this. I am so sorry that you are having to go through this, but your friends are so lucky to have someone on their side who has the sass and wit you provide (I know you do because you have me giggle throughout your posts…not this one though… 🙁 I had a girlfriend go through aggressive cancer last year, and I seriously was so frightened about the entire process that I hid from her the entire time. I’m not proud of it.
    Sandra recently posted…Standing in my Underwear on the StreetMy Profile

  6. I’m afraid I, like so many people nowadays, have had friends and family members who have battled with cancer. Your title says it all, really.

    • We all go through this and I have had two friends who did not win their battles. I am expecting Fantasia (or how she prefers to be addressed Fu&*^%ing Fabulous Fantasia) to be the 1% that beats the odds. She was not given a great prognosis but was recently given hope for a radical surgery option and we are crossing our fingers that she will be selected as a candidate. Bestie has much better statistics so I know she is going to beat the odds. Doesn’t stop my worry though!

  7. Here’s the good news: treatment has improved a lot even in the past ten years. Shit’s still gonna happen. They’ll probably lose their hair, and maybe even their fingernails, and they’ll have to deal with nausea and fatigue and if they get radiation it’ll be like a really bad sunburn. And aside from the side effects chemo is really boring. They’ll spend a lot of time sitting around doing nothing while pints of poison drip into your veins. Their legs may swell because all the fluid goes downhill and the doctors will have to prescribe pills that make them pee every five minutes so they have to drag their IV stand down the hall and try not to get tangled up in all the tubes while trying to take care of business. They may not feel like eating. Or they may get drugs that make them feel like eating all the time. You may go to lunch with them and they’ll ask you “Are you gonna finish that?” as soon as the waiter puts down the food.

    And while Fantasia and Bestie sound like they’re not afraid to ask for anything or tell you to stuff it but they’re going to need you to try and think of things without being asked. Or to do whatever they ask without question.

    But let me emphasize the good news: treatment’s a lot better than it was even at the turn of this century. That’s one way they’re exceptionally lucky. Here’s another: they have you as a friend.
    Christopher recently posted…Out, About, And Read All Over.My Profile

    • OK Christopher, that made me cry. I have sat with Bestie at two of her chemo appointments and we had so much fun just spending hours talking about everything but cancer. I was sad when she asked her husband to go with her after that. Guess he called dibs before I did. One toenail down and no loss of appetite until recently. As for Fucking Fabulous Fantasia, this is not her first rodeo, but you gotta believe if prayer works, it will be her last! Thanks for your kind and oh so true words. We are lucky to have the medicine we have and Toronto has amazing facilities and caregivers. I know they are both in good hands when I am not there. I only wish I could always be there…

  8. Fuck cancer indeed, I lost my best friend in march to this bastard disease…the sad thing is I know she won’t be the last of my friends I lose this way, cancer is too prevalent nowadays. Here’s to treasuring those precious friendships however long or short they are…fuck you cancer, we will beat you one day.

    • I am so sorry you lost your friend. I lost one a few years back after a really long struggle and it was one of the most difficult funerals I had ever been to. Her daughter is my daughter’s age. Her friends are all my friends and it was like wondering who would be next. It is tragic to see young people die. Let’s hope researchers find a way to beat cancer before it takes any more beautiful people!

  9. […] also wanted to update you on a dear friend who died today of cancer. I wrote about her here. Fantasia did not survive her battle and the world is a darker place. My heart goes out to her […]

  10. That was an awesome post. I too, appreciate all the friends I made since kids and without them, this motherhood thing would not have been so fabulous. Fantasia certainly was an awesome Mom, and all around person. I remember just hearing about her for the first time and then I got to meet her. Good thoughts are going out to you and all those who are living with cancer.

  11. Great article, but if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to take this call.

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