I lost yet another friend to appendix cancer today. My closest appendix cancer friend.
She found my website just after she was diagnosed, and we have been in touch often in the years since. She was my age, and also a nurse…so we shared a lot right away. She, at age 50, defied the odds of being female and being older and was accepted into medical school. She’d always wanted to be a doctor. She was doing well in medical school…until she had appendicitis, until she discovered she had appendiceal cancer. She had a hemicolectomy and then returned to med school, she was going to be one of the survivors. Then her cancer recurred. She had a second surgery, and as a result of that surgery the nerve to her right leg was damaged. She became disabled. But she still returned to med school. To her dream.
Her cancer then recurred again, this time inoperable. She decided to forgo chemotherapy and to instead use alternative therapies. They didn’t work for her. We communicated once, sometimes twice a day as her life deteriorated. She was dying and I knew that. I hated that she wouldn’t be my friend forever in this life. I hated that she would never realize her dream of becoming an MD. I hated that cancer was stealing another friend from me.
She suffered unending pain and nausea and disability in the end. Her quality of life deteriorated to the point that she wished the relief of death, even if it separated her from those she loved. She finally admitted herself to the hospital for palliative care. She died just days later. While I was so sad to lose her, I’m relieved that she is finally cancer-free.
But in the end, she still advocated my dream of further education. She said initially I supported her when she was in school, and she wasn’t able to finish, but maybe there was a justice in her encouraging me to pursue my dream of further education…at least one of us might graduate! We were always each others cheerleaders. We shared a lot…our dealing with a cancer diagnosis, our loves, our lives, our feelings.
Why couldn’t she have been a survivor like me? Why couldn’t she have realized her dream of becoming an MD? She only wanted to help people.
I have no answers.
I got to say goodbye to her before she passed. I told her how much I would miss her friendship. I asked her to try to contact me from the great beyond when she gets there…she said she’s always been a bird lover (me too) so will try to contact me as a pink finch. I have a bird feeder and get a few finches, but NONE of them are pink. I will so be looking for a pink finch. If I see a pink finch, I’ll know my good friend is just a parallel universe away from me.
I will be sure to keep my bird feeders filled this year. Especially with finch food.