Breast Cancer · Cancer · Cancer in Pregnancy · Cancer Survivor · Early Induction · Inspiring · Preemies · Pregnancy

an angel and a hero; my two best friends.

So if you happen to be a reader of mine, I’m certain you are aware that in 2012, one of my very best friends who was more like my brother than my friend, left us and went to heaven. While I love and miss him dearly, this post is not about him. You see, I was not only incredibly blessed to have one amazing best friend, but two. She (C) and I grew up about ten houses down from each other in a pretty close-knit neighborhood. We have been best friends for nearly 25 years now. I find myself so very blessed because friendships like these are so rare. Of course, throughout twenty five years of any relationship with another human, it’s only natural that occasionally drifting apart and then back towards each other can be expected. When we were children, most of the time we were inseparable. These were the days before cell phones existed and it was perfectly safe for kids to ride their bikes around their neighborhoods after dark. Life was full of sleepovers and snowball fights and pool parties and family dinners at both of our homes, where we were each considered a part of the others’ family. Around the time that I was 14, my parents got divorced and it wasn’t what you would call amicable. Shortly after I started high school and received my drivers license, we began to drift apart. I am ashamed to admit that I was nearly entirely to blame, as I turned into one those basic early 2000’s preppy little snobby bitch. Fortunately for all that knew me, I grew out of that phase after a few years, and because C was such a kind and loving person, no matter how long we ever went without talking or seeing each other, we were always able pick up right where we left off. It took me becoming an adult to truly appreciate that kind of rare and true friendship. We always kept in touch but sometimes only saw each other a few times a year. When she had her first baby girl, that was when we began to become close again. A little less than a year later, she got married and she had her second baby, a sweet little boy. At this point we were back to the point of being the very best of friends, keeping in constant contact and seeing each other several times a week if not every day. In the very beginning of 2015, my fiance and I decided to start looking for a home to finally buy instead of rent. Without hesitation, C and her husband welcomed us with open arms to move in with them until we found a house to buy and move into. Although that was an especially stressful time (unrelated to C and her husband) it was the best choice we could have made. They say you should never live with good friends because it can ruin friendships, but in this case it was the absolute opposite. Living with her and her family (kids 2 and 10 months at the time) brought us closer than we had ever been in our 24 year friendship. We had a blast living together, and when life threw us challenges, we handled them together. In August 2016, our house was ready to move into, and we were packing the last of our things for the move. C came into my room with a shocked expression on her face; she had found out moments before that she was unexpectedly pregnant. It was certainly a huge surprise, neither of us could believe it. At the time she was feeling overwhelmed because she hadn’t planned on having another child. This child, a beautiful sweet baby girl that C named in honor of her late father, turned out to be the most incredible blessing that could have ever happened. When C went for her first OB appointment, they found a lump in her breast, and after some imaging and a biopsy, we found out it was cancer. This 26 year old healthy, fit, mom of two toddlers had a very aggressive form of breast cancer. This unplanned, unexpected baby girl saved my best friends life. How’s that for “everything happens for a reason”?  (The real kicker was that my mother was diagnosed with a different type of aggressive breast cancer that same day, but more on that another time.) And so with the diagnosis also came millions of worries and questions and appointments and tears and fears. I was determined to do whatever I could for her and her young family to make this as easy on them as it could possibly be. Early on, the doctors told her and her husband that they believed that they could save her and her unborn baby, and she would begin low dose chemo immediately. That was hard, for many reasons. She didn’t have a lot of help at home aside from her mom and I, and the chemo made her feel awful, as you can imagine. But being newly pregnant on top of the side effects of the chemo, coupled with being a very involved hands on mom with two little ones really took its toll. I have never in my life witnessed the type of strength and willpower she showed in those months. I don’t believe too many people have that much fight in them, but she absolutely does. A little after she started chemo, they decided to put in a port because the chemo was too hard on her veins. Putting a port in is not USUALLY too difficult a procedure, but because she is so tiny, when they placed her port, they nicked her lung causing it to partially collapsed. They had to put in a chest tube, (that was about as large and wide as a garden hose) and it was incredibly painful. They had to leave it in for a few days, and it was so awful for her. Between the excruciating pain and the chemo side effects I had never seen her so worn down. This girl has a pain tolerance that has always impressed me. To make a terrible time worse, this all happened on her birthday. Fortunately it did resolve and after a few days the chest tube came out and she was discharged. She had just a couple days to rest before she resumed chemo through her port and things became more stable. But then there was more bad news. The chemo wasn’t working. She needed stronger drugs and higher doses and that wasn’t possible with her pregnancy. So at 32 weeks, in February of 2017 they brought baby girl into the world. From the moment she arrived she was a fighter just like her mama. She was only in the NICU for about two weeks, and she was only on oxygen and a feeding tube for a few days. All of her doctors were extremely impressed. After a couple of weeks, C resumed chemo, which made her much sicker this time around, because it was so much stronger. But again, she’s a fighter, and as sick as she was, all she wanted to do was care for and play with her children. A few months later when she was finally done with chemo, she had her double mastectomy. She is currently cancer free. Without a doubt, this girl that I call my best friend, is my Hero. She is my inspiration, she is someone I aspire to be like. She is the most amazing person I know, and is always putting everyone (even those that don’t deserve it) before herself. So even though one of my best friends is in heaven, the one I still have here on earth is quite an angel herself and I am forever grateful for her.

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