It was mid-morning on Monday when I finally decided to haul it up off the couch and go outside. Opening the backdoor I shuffled to the left and let my back slide down the wall until my bottom landed on the wooden deck. Sun on my face, eyes closed, I sat there trying to let the warmth burn away knots in my stomach left from Friday. In the yard next door I could faintly hear my two elderly neighbors having a skiff. Nothing abnormal, just the effects of having been together for 38 years. As the door closed and she came outside I opened my eyes to see her look up and gesture to me. Squinting closer, I could see her making a C with her thumb and index finger.
I gave her the "What?" sign with my face. She's hard of hearing so we speak in gestures a lot she and I.
Again she gave the C and then pointed at her chest. "Oh sh*t," I thought to myself "this woman is trying to tell me she has breast cancer." I motioned I would be right down as she started to cry. Ducking inside I quickly threw a sweat jacket over my pajama uniform of electric blue tank and matching A&F sweats before darting down the stairs. We met outside our back gates where she broke down telling me how she had ignored a nickel size lump in her breast until it became the size of a tennis ball. And then she showed me the tennis ball and I cried with her: two lunatics clinging to each other bawling by the trash cans. That lump scared me. It's big. When I hugged her I couldn't help but think of the cancer that was literally touching my own chest from the other side of her shirt. Strange thought, but true.
I've known her for the seven years I've lived here. She and her husband traveled the world living in Bali and Hawaii for most of their married lives before he became ill forcing them to move back to the mainland. When I met them he was wheelchair bound; she told me in secret it was hard to look after him. Then one day a couple years ago he went in for a random check up and doctors realized he needed a valve replacement in his heart. That operation changed his life, their lives, -- within months he was out of that wheelchair and back to healthy living. It was really a miracle and something they were so excited about. They live in a meager bungalow attached to 3 others next door. They're in their 70's. He enjoys an afternoon cigar and she a glass of wine. And now this.
After we pulled it together she told me her operation was Tuesday (today) and they were removing the entire breast. Maybe she'd get reconstruction, maybe not. "What does one boob look like after you've had two you've loved your whole life," she asked? I didn't know what to say. "Can I come with you?" "No can you wait here? I'll be back on Wednesday and might need you." "Can I pray for you?" "Yes -- please do -- and tell your friends, too." She's observant aka a little nosy this woman, but in all the ways you would want your neighbor to be. We parted ways so she could get back inside before her husband came looking for her. I went back upstairs calling friends I knew I could trust to pray for her. And then sat back on the couch in a state of shock.
If you are a praying person and feel so inclined, please pray for my friend Pat.
She is brave, but scared and would appreciate it so much.
I'll keep you updated on her progress as I learn anything.
She is still in hospital and I may not have any news for a couple of days.
I'll be back tomorrow to give you the second half of this story which involved me ripping her neighbors a new hole. You won't want to miss that one.
And for everyone who has been emailing and sending notes about my weekend -- I want to thank you -- It means so very much. Friday was a major suckfest of a day that leveled me personally and professionally despite my many years in this business. The person who did that to me was not my friend, but certainly was a candidate/executive I've known for many years. Live and learn I tell myself. Always go with your gut or you end up with someone's foot stuck in it. Ugh