I just received some wonderful news…depending on how you look at it. A close friend of mine has just learned that she will have an unexpected 6-week reprieve before her second round of chemo treatments begin for an advanced-stage ovarian cancer that was not completely arrested by the first round of treatments.
She/we had been expecting much worse news: that she would have to begin the new treatments following close on the heels of her last treatments leaving her no time to recover her strength or attend to her personal life. This six-week window is a tremendous gift. Now she can fly to California to spend some time with her beloved daughter and grandchildren for a couple of weeks in an apartment by the sea before she must return home to resume treatments.
When you have a really serious cancer, this constitutes good news. Every day you are not in treatment is cherished; any reprieve from treatment is a blessing. Having had a late-stage cancer myself in the past year, and being currently in remission, I speak from personal experience. There is no doubt that having cancer can completely change one’s perspective on life.
Before cancer I thought friendship meant being close to several people over a long period of time, even though they might be a continent away. It meant sharing a history together and supporting each other through the bad times and celebrating the good ones.
Now there is a whole new dimension to friendship for me. This past year, upon recovering from my own cancer, I learned shortly thereafter that the friend discussed earlier had suddenly been diagnosed with a late-stage ovarian cancer. I also learned that a high-school friend I had reconnected with last year at our 50th high-school reunion was having a recurrence of cancer as well.
I have been working hard at being a good friend to each of them since my own recovery. There is an unquestionable kinship amongst cancer survivors that I, too, have experienced. I want to encourage them that to know they have more living to do, while supporting them through the ups and downs of their own cancer journies.
This is the hardest I’ve ever worked at friendship. It is time-consuming, requires focus and a lot of unselfishness. I am not trying to say I am a hero by any measure. I just want to share what I have learned this past year. A long-term friendship is not easy to maintain even in the best of times but there is give and take. This new definition of friendship is all about giving, and giving some more…with no expectations whatsoever. I continue learning every single day.