Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Longest-term Friend’s Birthday

To celebrate her birthday, I spent Friday evening and most of Saturday with my longest-term friend. Can’t say she’s my oldest friend beings she’s not age-wise – but we have been friends since 8th grade so she is the friend of longest duration. Having a close friend for nearly 40 years is a gift. We went through the teen years, marriages and kids together. And now we’re doing the second half.

Her birthday this year was especially meaningful for me. (And no, it wasn’t 50 – that was last year!). A little less than a year ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After the lumpectomy, she had to have all the lymph nodes under her left arm removed. Then came two rounds of chemo and five or six weeks of radiation. Due to the tumor type, she’ll continue to get herceptin every three weeks until April. But she’s doing well and I’m so thankful that she stuck around to be my friend another year!

As unpleasant as it was (for her, not me), her cancer journey provided us with an opportunity to spend a lot of time together. So often our busy lives get in the way of staying connected with those who are most important to us. Living life as an early retiree allowed me the flexibility and freedom to be with her every step of the way, through each surgery and all her chemo treatments, providing emotional support and keeping track of the practical issues like medications and insurance forms.

Her life is finally returning to normal. She’s back to work again and, although she lost all her hair twice, it’s come back in a really cute pixie style. The dark days are behind and the future is looking bright. So we celebrated her birthday with a nice dinner, strawberry shortcake, a chick flick and a really interesting peel-off facial mask that did NOT take away 20 years when removed. I guess we can't have everything!

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