We all know people who have been diagnosed with some form of cancer. When you get the news that a longtime friend, loved one, or even your own self has been diagnosed with cancer, then the disease becomes even more real and close to home. I will never forget the time when my mother called to tell me my dad had been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. We lost him three months later.
Last February, sad news struck again. We all have friends who have danced through our lives at some point or another. This particular friend was a vital part of my younger years. We were cheerleaders together, and we spent hours on the phone almost every night talking about our day, ABC soap operas, and whatever it is that teens talk about. She was the girl everyone loved. With her striking red curly hair, freckled nose, and witty sense of humor, she was the girl next door that everyone called a friend.
Even though I’ve probably not seen my high school friend in over 25 years, when I saw the news on Facebook that she had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, I felt a stabbing pain in my heart.
This 44-year-old mom to three boys under 9 has since undergone chemo, a bilateral mastectomy, and is now completing eight weeks of radiation. The good news is that there is currently no evidence of disease in her body, but she has to live the rest of her life one day at a time. She will remain on oral medications throughout her life, and she will have PET scans every three months. She has been professionally trained as a nurse and is married to a nurse, so this couple doesn’t sugar-coat the diagnosis. She told me, “The prognosis is not good with Stage 4. We will take it one scan at a time, and hope to remain disease free for a long time.”
Throughout her fight, she has retained her witty sense of humor despite not knowing what the next day will bring. Her Facebook status updates may have you crying one moment and laughing the next. The other day, she wrote her own message inspired by the children’s book series, “If you give a Mouse a Cookie!”
I don’t have the funds to help pay her medical bills or send her family on the vacation they deserve since they had to cancel an anticipated Disney cruise once she learned of her diagnosis last year, but as a writer I can do something to bring her words to life. I have the platform to share her inspiring story and publish her written words. Here are her words as she lives in the moment of fighting breast cancer.
Reprinted with permission from Jennifer Chapel. Jennifer has been fighting cancer now for 334 days on the day I submitted this story.