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My Friend Meri | Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Meri happens to be one of my dearest childhood friends. Regrettably after we graduated high school, we lost touch for almost 50 years. That all changed two years ago when the 50 Year Reunion committee tracked me down and reunited Meri and me.

Olga and Meri It turns out that we had  lived less than 10 minutes from each other almost the entire time.  We had a lot of years to catch up on and we continue to make up for the lost time. She is a dear person and has become such a special friend. It broke my heart to hear about the tremendous struggle she had as a breast cancer survivor. But I could not help being filled with overwhelming gratitude that she was here to share the story with me. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I asked her to share that story with you:

As Told By My Friend Meri
“As October approaches each year, the reminder that I am a breast cancer survivor becomes paramount in my life. Eleven years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer through my annual mammogram. This led to a mastectomy and chemotherapy.  There is nothing scarier than hearing those words, you have cancer!

Breast Cancer Awareness TreeI kept saying no not me.  I am normal weight.  I exercise every day.  I don’t smoke or drink and there is no breast cancer in my family! I should not have this ugly disease.  My life changed in an instant.  This isn’t just taking the tumor out and go on your merry way!  The process that followed was one that I never imagined I would have to go through.  Many doctors to see, more sonograms, more blood tests, MRI’s with contrast, MRI’s without contrast, needle biopsies and those sleepless nights wondering if I will survive.  What do I do about work?  Will all of this be paid for etc.  Cancer was now my life and dealing with it every day was becoming my JOB.

During this long procedure of surgery, chemo, which “kills’ you but permits you to live, follow-up blood tests and injections, you feel isolated and lonely.  When all of my hair fell out and I lost my eye lashes and eyebrows, that was when the reality hit me.  I “looked” like a cancer patient.   I had no right breast! I was miserable and that was okay!   I have my life to enjoy even though all my procedures were totally traumatic at the time.

This time of year truly makes me sad.  Anyone can get cancer!  If someone you know has been diagnosed just be there for them.  Let them cry, scream, be depressed, but be that shoulder for them to cry on.  You never want to go through this alone.”  ~Meri

I wish I had known Meri when she went through her breast cancer ordeal.  If I had known her 11 years ago, she never would have been alone.

You make a difference: we are WOMEN HELPING WOMEN; hold a hand and support your friends with understanding and love

 

Author: Olga Cohen

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