The Value of Good Friends

12 Dec

 

I never realized until recently how unusual it was for all my friends and family to rally around me and support me as much as they have since my diagnosis.  Apparently, most cancer patients lose touch with at least one person that they were close to pre-cancer because that person simply didn’t know how to deal with the diagnosis and carry on the relationship.  The opposite was true for me – when my longest friend Renée asked me what she could best do for me from halfway around the world, I told her that it would be nice to have mail in my mailbox that wasn’t related to medical bills.  She emailed everyone she could think of and asked them to send me a postcard, and soon my mailbox was overflowing with letters from almost every continent.  I had letters from family, college friends, members of my former church, and even some of my high school and college teachers.  Some were people whom I had not heard from in years, and yet they chose to reach out and re-establish a connection when they heard about my illness.

Of course, if you know Renée, you know that she wouldn’t just stop there.  She planned a little surprise for me, inspired by a present her then-boyfriend (now husband) had given her the first year she worked through the summer and couldn’t go home.  He came up with the idea of sending her a video of encouragement, in the form of a series of pictures of her friends holding homemade signs that formed a message of support.  So as a spin-off of the idea, she had my friends and family and teachers from around the world take a picture of themselves holding encouraging signs and set it to the Lady Antebellum song “Never Alone”.  The signs were in English, French, Spanish, Hebrew, and even Arabic, and just like the postcards, they came from all over the world.  Some of them were brilliantly funny – my friend Karin and her boyfriend Alex were travelling in South America at the time and living in a tent, and they sent a picture of Karin holding a sign in French saying, “It could be worse – you could be living here with this guy!”  Another favorite was from Renée herself – she was posed next to the ogre in Seattle, wearing a cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots but holding her (enormous) sign in front of the rest of her body, making it appear as though she were undressed.  It was her way of reminding me of the practical joke I pulled on her in college, showing up in her bed naked, wearing only her black cowgirl hat.

It is incredible what a valuable support good friends can be.

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