I went to my first Breastlink support group meeting three days before I started chemo. I walked in, looked around the room and saw a bunch of bald ladies, and thought to myself that I didn’t belong there. These were sick people.
We told our stories, and I decided to stick it out and come back some more. Little did I know how very important this group of ladies would become to my sanity. So many events stand out in my mind.
There was the time I was there the night before I was to get my wig and get my head buzzed. My hair was already coming out in clumps and I was feeling pretty devastated about it.
After two hours with these women who had walked the walk before me, I got into my car, drove home with the window open, throwing out clumps of hair so birds could use it to build nests. (Not sure how many birds look for hair on the freeway, but that’s beside the point!)
At another meeting one of the women came in less than a week after her double mastectomy. Yes she was walking slowly, and had a friend come with her, but she was there to tell us that it really wasn’t that bad.
The strength that gave me was immense. Through it all we talked about the issues we were facing and would share ideas on how to get through it, from types of tea to types of pillows to subliminal relaxation and affirmation recordings.
After our six weeks at Breastlink were over we decided to start meeting at a restaurant in Tustin. Our group grew as we inevitably met more people with breast cancer and invited them to join us. We would share our progress with expansions and surgeries, and would always come away feeling so much more hopeful and positive.
One night, as we sat there in our wigs, fanning ourselves from our chemo hot flashes, we decided that this was ridiculous. We pulled off our wigs, and piled them on a chair, then took pictures of the chair and ourselves with our dome tops. We were living through something we had previously thought unimaginably horrible, and were even able to laugh at it!
We are women who came together with little more in common than cancer in our breasts, and we have become such good friends. The friends I had from before cancer were fantastic, helpful, and supportive.
But these women and I shared something else that bonds us together. We have the shared experiences, understand what we are going through, and can offer that special support that nobody else really can. We don’t have to explain things to each other or to justify our feelings. We all just “get it” and because of that can offer a unique type of support and friendship. These women have become my sisters!