From Carisa – A best-friend’s perspective on cancer

This post was written by one of my best friends, Carisa. I cry every time I read this, and I’ve read it a dozen times already tonight…
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Shannon and I met in 2007 soon after she moved to Vermont. We were introduced through a mutual friend and hit it off pretty much right away. We both loved to laugh; both had a daughter named Kate, and were equally nerdy when it came to talking about/mildly obsessing over typography, design and photography.

She was my go-to person when my children were little and my days were long. Vermont winters can be especially long, dark and cold- and it was nice to find some warmth and comfort in her friendship. If we couldn’t get together, we would often talk on the phone for hours about absolutely nothing. At that time, life felt weird if it had been more than two days without either seeing or speaking to her.

That changed a bit when her family moved to Virginia. Although we couldn’t see each other in person we still talked nearly as much. Like any friendship that has some history behind it, our conversations come and go. Sometimes, when life is busy we don’t talk for weeks, and other times we still talk every day. She is still my go-to person when anything good or bad happens. She is still who I call when I’m proud or scared. And she is still one my most favorite people in this big crazy world!

Fast forward to around this time last year…. If you are reading this you already know that Shannon was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, and while that diagnosis rocked her world – it rocked my world too. She asked me if I would write something for her blog on what her journey was like from the perspective of one of her best friends. It’s hard to put into words all the mixed emotions this past year has brought. Living so far away while your friend is sick, is really hard. The best way to try and describe what her diagnosis felt like for me is to compare it to something we all know.

Imagine there is a party, and Cancer is the guest of honor.

Imagine your best friend is invited, but you are not.

Imagine the disbelief you feel when your friend tells you of her invitation.

You feel nothing, then suddenly you’re sobbing.

You’re terrified of what the future might hold, but you can’t tell her (she who you tell everything to!)

Imagine the anxiety that builds as the day of the party approaches.

You want to call your best friend and tell her that you’re worried, but you can’t.

She tells you what she plans to wear, who she hopes to meet and that she doesn’t want to go.

Imagine waiting by the phone, for months, for the party to be over.

Imagine its hard to wait for your friend, so you call her, to make sure she’s okay.

Then Imagine someone else answers the phone, her voice sounds just like your best friend, but she is different. She speaks of chemotherapy and surgery and uncertainty. She speaks of exhaustion and pills and hope.

Imagine your best friend stays at the party, while you sit home and miss her.

And you feel guilty for not going with her, but you also feel relieved that you weren’t allowed to go.

She hates Cancer, but she also meets some wonderful people.

Imagine she tells you all about the party.

She describes the food, but you can’t taste it. She talks about the music, but you can’t dance. She tells you the difficult conversations she has, but you aren’t there.

Imagine the party changed her, both physically and emotionally.

You close your eyes and try to remember what life was like before the invitation arrived but after a while, its hard to imagine.

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