Friday, July 29, 2011


I met Jen yesterday.

Yes, Jen. She's the one Dr. Laitao's office hooked me up with to discuss radiation when I was having so much trouble making my decision. She's the one who put my mind at ease after I read about all of the horrible long-term side effects. She's the one who filled my head with positive thoughts and shooed away the negative ones. After one conversation, I knew Jen would become an important part of my life.

Especially now.

Jen went through her own ordeal with cancer a year and a half ago, but she was due at Sloan-Kettering for a follow-up yesterday. "What time is your appointment?" she asked cheerily. "12:05," I replied. "Ok, mine's at 1, but I'll make sure I'm there before 12 so I can meet you before you go in. I have something for you!" I can't believe this woman I've never met before is willingly offering to sit for an extra hour in a cancer center just to meet me.

I woke up yesterday morning feeling really crappy. I forced myself to get out of bed and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Just as I turned on the water, I heard my phone buzz with a text from Jen, "I showered and dried my hair this morning in honor of meeting you." I chuckled and replied, "Wow! I really must rate!" I continued my morning routine slowly, then Jimmi and I headed for the car.

As we were driving, another text came through, "What time do you usually get there?" Jen asked. "For a 12:05 appointment? Usually 12:07," I joked. "But my mom will be there on time. Her name is Eileen." Jen said she'd be wearing a long, navy dress. I let her know that I told my mom to look for her and she quipped, "I'm going to hide from her. Or if she approaches me, maybe I'll scream for help...ya know, just to shake things up a bit." I couldn't help laughing out loud picturing the whole scene, serious or not. I quickly typed back, "Do it!"

I was still giggling when Jimmi and I pulled into the Sloan-Kettering driveway. We left the car with the valet, and headed down the hall to the radiation oncology department. As we turned the corner, we were immediately greeted by two enormous smiles. One from my mom, and one from my sister through circumstance, Jen.

We both squealed "Hi!" and threw our arms around each other. The fact that we had never laid eyes upon one another meant absolutely nothing. I headed to the desk to check in, then quickly turned around to chat for a minute before my treatment.

I saw Jen pull a small, flowered pouch out of her bag. "I have something for you," she started. "When I got sick, someone told me I'd need three things to get through it. A backbone, a funny bone, and..." she pulled something out of the pouch, "a wishbone." Then she held up the object in her hand to reveal a silver chain with a silver wishbone pendant hanging from it. It was perfect and I immediately loved it. Apparently, my mom felt the same way because she broke in with, "I'm gonna cry!" Jen handed me the chain and said, "It's gently used because I wore it during my battle, but now I'm giving it to you."

Without a thought, I took the necklace from her, wrapped it around my neck and fastened it tightly. I thanked and hugged her, and headed off to my treatment. When I got into the changing room, I peeked in the mirror at my incredibly thoughtful gift and a tear fell from my eye.

I can't believe something so small could mean so much. I can't believe someone I've known for only two weeks could have such an impact on my life. This wishbone is a symbol of hope, strength and determination. It's a symbol of friendship and sisterhood. But most of all, it's a symbol of a fight. A fight I plan to win.

To win...that's my wish.

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