Sunday, June 12, 2011


Yesterday, I got some terrible news. But this time, it wasn't about me.

I got a call from my very close friend, Bob (changing his name for privacy), telling me that his partner, Joe (again, changing his name for privacy), has an inoperable brain tumor and he's just waiting to find out how much longer he will have with him.

No! No, that's wrong. That's not true! He was fine when I saw him a month ago!

"I don't understand. Why can't they operate?"

"It's everywhere."

The conversation ended with a promise of a visit before my own hospital stay, and well wishes to each of us from the other. I hung up the phone and was still for a minute. From my perch at the top of the stairs in my foyer, I could hear the kids playing happily in the family room. I sat quietly, trying to think of some way to help my friends in the two days I have left before I'm out of commission.

I brushed the tears from my cheeks and stood up on shaky legs. I stumbled into the bedroom and woke Jimmi from a sound sleep. "Hey," I whispered while gently touching his arm. He opened one eye and let out a grunt. "Joe has a brain tumor. There's nothing they can do."

"What?" Jimmi sat straight up. "There's gotta be something they can do." I shook my head and leaned on the tattoo of Jesus' face on his chest. We were both silent for a minute until he spoke, "What the fuck is going on with the world? Why is this stuff happening?" I had nothing intelligent to say.

As I headed back downstairs to make chocolate chip pancake puffs for the boys, my thoughts were whirling around like a tornado in my brain. I don't get it. There was no warning. One minute, Bob and Joe were one of the happiest couples I had ever met. They live together, work together and play together.  One won't even go out to dinner without the other. They're inseparable. Now, Bob is trying to figure out how he'll pick up the pieces of his life when Joe is gone, and quite honestly, it doesn't sound like he has much time.

It's not fair.

I'm not gonna lie. Three days ago, I didn't think anything could be worse than what's happening to me right now. I have cancer. I'm losing my uterus and my ovaries. I'm going to go through menopause at 36. I'll never carry another baby. I'll need 5 1/2 weeks of radiation treatments and four cycles of chemotherapy. I'm going to feel like shit. I'm going to lose my hair. I might need to postpone my wedding. But not once has any of the doctors indicated that I would lose this war. "It will be a difficult few months, but you should be fine when it's over." That's what they tell me.

Bob and Joe would trade places with me in a second. I have the one thing they don't have, but want so desperately.

I have Hope.

When I found out about my situation, Bob and Joe called me every day to check on me. "Call us any time no matter what you need. Even if you just want to yell at someone," Bob would say. When I would get down and depressed, Bob would confidently tell me, "I don't see an expiration date marked on your foot, do you?"

They were part of my rock. Now a piece of that rock is chipping away and I can't fix it.

I want to fix it so badly, but what can I do?

Tomorrow, we're going to visit Joe in the hospital. The hospital where he'll spend his final days in hospice. I don't know if I'll be able to do this. I need to be strong, but my spirit is too weak right now. How will it feel knowing that tomorrow might be the last time I ever see Joe? What if he doesn't recognize me anymore because the tumor is screwing with his mind?

I need to be strong for Bob. I need him to know that everything will be ok. But how can I say that? He's losing the love of his life. His soulmate. His best friend. His everything.

Tonight, I read a book to my kids. It was called "When Someone You Love Has Cancer". In the book, there was a chapter called "What if My Loved One Doesn't Get Better?" I very quickly assured my boys that we don't need to worry about that because the doctors caught my cancer early and they're taking it out, then giving me a bunch of medicine to make sure it's gone. I told them I'd be pretty sick for a few months, but then I would get better.

What will Bob tell Joe's nieces and nephews about him? Joe will not get better. Joe won't be coming home.

Yesterday, my life was put in perspective. As horrible as my battle is right now, I have a very good chance of doing a victory dance when it's all over. I wish Joe had the same chance.

Bob and Joe, I love you with all my heart.

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