Valentine’s Day Mammo: A Friendship Promise Kept
My best friend just finished breast cancer treatment. I had to sit and watch the blinking cursor on my computer screen for about ten minutes before I wrote the next sentence of this piece, because that first one is a doozy!
It probably shouldn't have been such a surprise to me. She has a small breast cancer ribbon tattoo which honors her late mom. So there is that legacy. One out of eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer over a lifetime. There is that statistic. Not a single member of our group of friends has not been touched by it. Truth.
I won't name my BFF (here anyway, I have before) because those who truly know and love her, already know. Her choice throughout this experience has been to keep her battle low key and fairly private. (Hopefully, she'll forgive me for even addressing it here.)
This decision is indicative of who she is, a strong, smart, independent person, who served as a caregiver for both of her late parents and an older brother who passed away much too early. She is such a loving individual who is more concerned for people worrying about her than she was about her own diagnosis.
She told me about it on Thanksgiving day last year. She kind of slipped it in between sips of wine and bouts of crows feet-inducing laughter, after the rest of the family had gone home for the evening. I almost missed it and she had to repeat it, "I have breast cancer."
When the tears subsided, she shared the positives; her cancer was found extremely early through a routine mammogram, was completely treatable, and her prognosis, very good.
Even with that knowledge in tow, my mind went to disquieting and very selfish places all on its own. "I can't lose this person who has been my rock for 40 years! I simply can't! What about me? I can't afford to lose even one person who has loved me unconditionally for most of my life! She's more sister than friend, and I refuse to lose one of my siblings!"
The segment of our Thanksgiving evening chat I've left out until now was her request that I promise to get a long-delayed mammogram scheduled. I promised. At my yearly health exam, my doctor's nurse offered to schedule it for me.
I know it was pure happenstance that the first opening was on Valentine's Day, but it took on a deeper meaning as the appointment neared. As a single woman with no other Valentine's Day plans, I came to view this event as a gift to me, a self-care gift every woman (of a certain age, when recommended) should give herself.
The day before my "squishing" my BFF and I shared a celebratory luncheon which included wine and dessert to celebrate the end of her cancer treatment. She uttered an exquisite toast and prayer, we clinked glasses and fought back happy tears.
Results aren't in yet, but the fact that I kept an important promise to someone who is ingrained so deeply in my soul, on a day dedicated to affirming love, matters more than the outcome.