A Friendship Beyond Colleagues

A dear friend and colleague was recently diagnosed with cancer. I found out at work through another colleague. Devastated by the news but not sure what to do and I didn’t want to cry at work, I left the conversation with my other colleagues to be by myself. I needed a moment to think about the news I just received. I just needed to be by myself. My friend called me to tell me the news but I didn’t pick up. I didn’t know what to say. Do I tell her how unfair it is? Do I say it will be OK even though I don’t know for certain? For the first time, I was speechless. I didn’t call her back for several days. I just didn’t know how to handle the conversation. I wanted to be strong for her. We talked. She handled it better than I did. She was the strong one with a clear perspective. I admired her for that. I offered to take her to her chemo since she lived alone and her parents lived out of state. I didn’t want her to do this alone. It was scary enough. I was scared. We’ve gone to three chemo sessions so far and she has three more to go. We’ve learned a lot about each other in the process. Sitting together in a room for eight hours will surely lend to personal discussions. Every third Tuesday, I get up at 4 am to get on metro to travel one hour for my friend to pick me up then I drive us both to the hospital. And for those that know me, I’m not a morning person. It’s a small sacrifice in the scheme of things. I never realized how much our friendship meant till we started going to chemo sessions together. I admire her for so many reasons but especially because despite what life handed her, she smiles, never complains, and still has a sense of humor. She is courageous. – M, 40

Facing illness in her life? You’ve got her back.