10.09.2010

Have You Touched Yourself Lately?

A few days ago, after publishing this post about pulling Riley from Hebrew School, I had a long email chat with a girlfriend who was going through her own similar scheduling conflicts, and who ultimately, was the catalyst for me to make my decision. With both of our husbands working in Iraq, we communicate often, offering support during the highs and lows of single parenthood.

But this week's conversation wasn't as light hearted and sarcastic as usual. It had a far heavier tone to it, for she confided in me about having some medical tests done, and being scared to get the results. More specifically, she had a mammogram and a biopsy, and she was anxiously awaiting to hear the news.

Not knowing what to say, I made my usual attempts to be witty, to be positive, and to offer another angle for why she may have pain. Couldn't it just be a cyst? Maybe she strained herself picking up her two year old son? She's a healthy thirty-something year old girl. Nothing could be wrong. Right?

I kept in close contact with her over the next few days, sending text messages, and emailing when I could. But how do you continue to have a conversation about something that may or may not be happening? How do you talk about "the dreaded C word" with someone you know ... so young and vibrant ... without thinking about your own mortality? How do you make small talk with someone when there's clearly an elephant in the room?

As I drove home late yesterday afternoon from a birthday party with Sheridan, I sent my girlfriend a text message while at a stop light, asking her if she found out where her family had been posted next year. We had been assigned last week, and she was bound to find out any day where they were heading. Her response, "You don't want to know." Not sure what that meant, and only thinking that her husband didn't get one of his top choices for their next overseas assignment, at the next stop light I sent a follow up text asking, "why?"

Cancer. My girlfriend just found out she has breast cancer.

I pulled the car over and burst into tears. How? Why? What is she going to do? So many questions. So much to think about. So much support to lend.

The rest of the story isn't mine to tell. Only my friend can do that.

But what I can do is urge everyone who's reading this to touch themselves today. Feel your boobs. Grab your spouse's balls. Heck, grab your neighbors boobs. Or balls. I don't recommend giving anyone a rectal exam ... but I will stress that if something, anything doesn't feel right (no matter where that special place may be), please call your doctor.

I don't normally proselytize here ... but even remotely thinking about how my girlfriend, who also has 3 kids and a hubby in Iraq, is going to go through this on her own. Well ... it gives me chills. It could easily have been me.

Schedule your annual exam. Give yourself monthly breast exams. The life my friend saved by doing this was her own.

And if you'd like to offer your own support to her, I know she could use it.

21 comments:

Jen said...

I'm in tears...again (shocking, I know). Thank you. Thank you for sharing...and thank you for being there.

I heavily debated putting my blog post out there, but I thought if even one person was inspired to do that 'extra check' or visit the doctor if something seemed off, then it would be well worth it.

The irony of the situation? October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month...

Thank you so, so much for everything...it really means the world to me!

Loukia said...

My God, your poor friend. I'm so sorry. I'll be sending my prayers and positive thoughts her way. I can't imagine what she's going to have to go through. I hope her husband can come back sooner. I have been worried this week. Felt something I thought wasn't there before. Have been almost too scared to go to the doctor. But I think it's okay. We should all be very aware of our bodies. Again, so sorry. Huge hugs.

Loukia said...

My God, your poor friend. I'm so sorry. I'll be sending my prayers and positive thoughts her way. I can't imagine what she's going to have to go through. I hope her husband can come back sooner. I have been worried this week. Felt something I thought wasn't there before. Have been almost too scared to go to the doctor. But I think it's okay. We should all be very aware of our bodies. Again, so sorry. Huge hugs.

Robin said...

I went over to Jen's blog after I read this, she sounds like an incredible person.

I'll be holding you BOTH close in my heart, that there but for the grace of god feeling is its own hard road to walk.

xox

Natalie said...

Thinking pink here. Hoping for all the best, with all womankind rooting for your friend. This must be a horribly hard time for you, sending hugs too.

Michelle said...

I too went straight to Jen's blog. I can't imagine. I live each day of my life waiting for the other shoe to drop; hopeful it won't but scared to death it will. If there is anything I can do don't hesitate to let me know. Any friend of yours is a friend of mine! All the love and prayers for you both!!

Mom24 said...

I am so sorry. That's unbelievably scary and sad. I hope she'll be all right, I hope she gets support.

Thanks for the reminder.

Scary Mommy said...

Fucking cancer. So, so scary. Thinking of you both. xoxo

Tara R. said...

I will keep your friend and her family in my thoughts.

Bfiles said...

I was reading w a heavy heart, knowing who you must be talking about. This is so sad.
Jill since you two are so close, I wanted to recommend you set up a site here when she starts her treatment. There are surely a lot of FS people who would like to help but it's very hard to pick up the phone and ask a virtual stranger for help. This site lets her (on her own, or through a friend like you) decide what she needs (eg dinner delivered 2x/week, a playdate for her son, a pickup for a daughter) and then people just sign up to do it. A friend of mine has a son with cancer and it has been very helpful.
http://www.lotsahelpinghands.com/

Sara said...

Oh Jill, Oh no! I am going to keep your friend in my heart. I hope it was found early enough.

Twenty Four At Heart said...

One of my girlfriends just went through this. Eight months later, she knows she will survive it but that doesn't take away the fear or the procedures she's gone thru in the meantime. Jen is lucky she has YOU in her life though - that much is for sure!

Selene said...

You have a gift of writing and getting your point across well. Thank you for using that gift for sharing an important message. We have to be our first line of defense - check yourself out!

Kelly said...

Thank you for the wake up call....I'm about 4+ years overdue for my follow up mammogram & Ultrasound - AND my thyroid ultrasound....I'll be making my appts tomorrow...

Christy said...

Oh Jill - when I read this I immediately clicked on her link and read her post, and let her know she had one more stranger rooting for her, and one more family she could call on in NoVa. That's where my people are - and unfortunately my mom has battled cancer - so we can share our dr's etc with her...I'm praying for her. And touching my girls each and every month!!!

Kat said...

Damn stupid cancer. Damn cancer. I'm so sick of cancer I could puke my guts out. I hate cancer.
Sorry.

I just got done grabbing my boobs yesterday. I'm paranoid about that kind of stuff. I'm always checking my moles too.

Anyway, sending prayers and good thoughts to your friend.

elmoisgr8 said...

Wow. I haven't checked your blog in a few days. Three years ago today I began hormone treatment for breast cancer. I was 29 at diagnosis. I've been through chemo, a double mastectomy and reconstruction. I had a 1 year old and a three year old at the time. I had no strong history, no risk factors, no known breast cancer gene. There's a great site for young women diagnosed under 40 called the young survival coalition http://www.youngsurvival.org/. They were my lifeline! My hubby deployed two months after my chemo was over and was gone for a few of my surgeries. I had a great group of friends that just loved me and were there for me. What you are doing for her is great. Knowing that you care goes a long way. So I second checking your boobies!! Great post!

Gilsner said...

I'm so sorry to hear the news of your friend. I visited her blog (and will continue to do so) and, clearly, it's true what they say: you are the company you keep because you are both amazing. I will be thinking of you both and thank you for the post. A poignant, yet heartbreaking, reminder of how important it is to self-exam. I just wish the reason behind the lesson were different. *hugs*

American in Norway said...

Oh gosh... I am so sorry to hear this.. sending prayers her way.

The Bald Guy said...

I read this earlier, but did not know how to react. Guess I still don't know what to say.

Praying.

Shared this on Twitter and Facebook. Will once again right now.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I just looked at her site and saw that she lives in NoVa! Maybe I could help out. So scary - but it does sound like it's early - a best of the worst case scenario...

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