Pinky Pie

Friends in cancer & Me

Posted on: May 11, 2010

Grow, baby, grow.

My daughter sent me a New York Times article today by an interesting blogger with prostate cancer who writes about the importance of friendship in cancer.

He wrote about being recently reunited with a childhood buddy who is battling breast cancer. They are now “friends in cancer.”

“So we talked … and talked … that night, telling each other medical tales that we never imagined when we were younger,” wrote Dana Jennings. “We talked chemo and radiation, hashed over fatigue and weepiness — shared our unexpected stories.” (

It is true that with this disease you do find friends in cancer. I have several, including some who had cancer 15 to 18 years ago and serve as excellent role models for me on longevity and both, coincidentally, are among my Scrabble buddies.

We all agree that any day above ground is a great day. Any day with hair a good hair day.

Jennings wrote about the importance of telling our stories. “By refusing to be silent, by declining to hide behind stoicism, we take ownership of them, maybe even have a chance to understand them. They’re our stories, and we need to insist on that fact. We shouldn’t cede them to grieving family members, mystified friends or hard-pressed doctors and nurses.”

Anyone who has noticed my blog knows that I am not silent or private about cancer. I have written about every aspect of my cancer, although lately I have branched off into other areas since I’m done with treatment.

One of the stories Dan’s wrote about was his friend being told chemotherapy didn’t suit her because “Chris didn’t quite have the right face to successfully pull off having no hair.”

Excuse me. You wonder how in the world someone could say that to a person who obviously has no choice about going through chemotherapy and hair loss. But the truth is people say dumb stuff. I say dumb stuff. You probably do, too.

My philosophy, which I’ve shared with other people, is to listen to the intent not the actual words. Most people – including you and me – mean well. We are just humans.

Dana wrote something later that is very powerful, “As for your hair, your friend is wrong. Chris, you burn with the fierce beauty and wisdom that only come from facing the fires of cancer.”

I don’t know if I have the fierce beauty and wisdom that Chris has, but I embraced my hair (or lack of) in a series of photo: my hair being cut off in anticipation of my upcoming balditude, silly bald photos of me, measuring my hair once it started coming back in, a comparison of my widow’s peak with that of Eddie Munster and today my hair with a bit more growth.

Hair is coming in, so much that I’ve long since given up wearing a hat. I even moved beyond the Eddie Munster look of  a month or so ago.

Still, I don’t look “young and vivacious” as we always joked in our family that I was right after coloring my hair. But just before my diagnosis, I was heading back to my natural color – white – a goal I clearly have reached.

Thanks to my friends in cancer, as well as friends who do NOT have to get cancer to be my buddies.


2 Responses to "Friends in cancer & Me"

Love the hair!! It’s gotten so long since our visit in Dubuque.

Amen, my friend…never met a more beautifully fierce woman. Great piece today!

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