Almost the last one standing …

Posted: June 22, 2012 in Breast Cancer, Spiritual/Emotional/Energetic
Tags: , ,

Ya know, there is one thing I have not really written about. And that is when you have cancer, especially advanced cancer, you are in a small boat with a few select individuals. If you get involved with those individuals, you are opening yourself up to a great deal of heartache, but I guess that’s just part of the journey, isn’t is?

Anyway, I have mentioned that I am a walking miracle … someone who should’ve been dead long ago except for God’s great mercy in keeping me here, so far, 4 extra years. Part of being around with this disease for so long is that many of your sisters fall beside you and you are still standing.

Over the past 5 years, I have loved some incredibly special women. Some younger than me. Some older. Some I have had phone conversations with; some only emails; and, once in a great while you connect with someone enough to meet face to face. I have had two cancer friends like this.

Today I write about Debbie Lindberg, the latest, and most painful, of the losses I have experienced to date. Debbie did not have breast cancer. She had non-Hodgkins lymphoma but we met on an alternative cancer board. We both lived in California at the time and we finally met at a dog agility trail near where she lived, where I was competing. She and her husband came out to the competition that day and we laughed till we cried. I could hardly remember how to run the courses, I was having so much fun with her! That started a permanent friendship.

Debbie was a stage IV from the get-go and this was her second go-round. When she first found out she had cancer, it was all throughout her spine. She had to get rods put in her spine, re-learn to walk, etc., all while her then-husband was messing around with her best friend. Years pass and she is remarried and then it struck again. We compared alternative notes right and left. We had such good times together whenever we could

Debbie had gone into the hospital late last year due to some awful systemic infection that got in her lungs. I think, over the past 6 months, she was only home once or twice. While she was in that hospital, she had her hip opened up and drained (leaving a huge maw in her hip), got brain swelling, seizures, had to be on a ventilator …. on and on. I honestly do not know how she hung on as long as she did through all of that. I think I would’ve left my body long ago. But she fought … how valiantly she fought. She finally left that ravaged body last month and her memorial was yesterday.

This disease not only robs us of our lives, it also takes our friendships before they are over. It’s so sad watching your friends die. I mentioned how I have lost friends because either they just don’t get it or whatever … but when you have cancer, you need your friends so much. For example, I don’t have clothes that fit because my belly is so big, so I can’t go anywhere besides dr appts. In the evenings, I can go from normal to violently ill in the course of 30 minutes flat so I am at home every evening. All that matters to me anymore are my relationships. And they are leaving me, one by precious one.

I have one left … Kim, no pressure … but you’re all that’s left, girl! Seriously, you expect this to happen when you are elderly. All of my mother’s friends died before her. But when you are in your 40s and 50s, not so much. Just one more thing this disease robs from us … and just one more reason to hate it.

I miss you, Debbie. Dance free, sweetie. You will never experience that pain again and, one of these days, I’ll be right there with you. Hey, scout out the cool boutiques there for me, will ya? I love you, my beautiful friend.

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Comments
  1. Meg Patterson says:

    Thank you so much for writing about this aspect, Melissa. When I first went Stage IV, I went to a clinic in Reno and had a great bonding time there with about 6 others who were also Stage IV. We were so hopeful and joyful. I started a website for us to post photos and stuff, and just recently had to close it down because everyone but me is now dead. And this was only 2 years ago that we met.

    One woman was very special to me and we became involved in each other’s lives. I travelled down to San Jose, CA (I live in Oregon) to visit her, and meet her children and husband before she died. I still keep in touch with them on Facebook, but it’s bittersweet. I have a blog post about Krista here: http://megpattersonfund.wordpress.com/

    It truly is one of the hardest parts of this disease. I find myself shutting down a little more when I go for treatment now. And now I understand the veterans who used to sit in the corner, getting their IVs, talking to no one, and going home. I think they just didn’t want anymore loss in their lives.

    I think of that old hymn about “In the sweet by and by, we will meet on that beautiful shore…”

    Thanks again,
    Meg

  2. Kim says:

    Thanks Melissa!

    I have a friend of mine who is a healer visiting right now. She is teaching me that energetically, mentally, and
    spiritually we come into this life with
    agreements. And, even if we feel that
    mentally/emotionally we are whole, we can have unhealed energies that keep hooking us in – OR
    on a deeper level we have agreements spiritually
    to move on.

    This is why I’m beginning to understand about the bizarre losses – that are so sudden and painful. I’m just got word of another
    friend not doing well this morning. I don’t
    understand why everything is happening
    at the same time? But, I’m truly beginning
    to understand that all of this is WAY bigger
    than me.

    I think you’ve been connected to the energy
    piece much sooner than most of us! I’m SO
    grateful Kris is coming.

    Bottom line: my friend is teaching me that
    these folks aren’t deliberately leaving us – they are simply living their path.

    HTH!

    Kim

  3. Debbie says:

    sorry to hear about your friend Debbie, I cannot imagine all that you have been through physically and emotionaly, and mentally. But you continue to fight and put your best foot forward.

  4. Bigitte the Swiss Miss says:

    Melissa dearest, I am here to! Though we still havent met in person, we belong to the same group since many years.

    • Yes Swiss Miss we have. Certainly didn’t mean to discount you. But i was talking more about connections that are more than just occasional messages. When are you coming back to CO?

  5. Francine Atkins says:

    I know what you mean about friends. I found your blog because I was helping my best friend who had pancreatic cancer. She died in April but I have met so many awesome women that I have not been able to move one. I dont care if you are the last one standing, Hang in there. You are an inspiration to me.
    Francine

    • Francine, wow! I am so sorry to hear about your friend. :(. It is so hard, isn’t it? So how did you stumble across my blog helping her?

      • Francine Atkins says:

        I joined the cancercured yahoo group and I saw the link to your blog back in Feb or March and I have been reading it ever since. I love your spirit and your humor. It makes me feel like my problems are just petty. Hang in there.

  6. Therese says:

    Melissa – speaking about you at work today. So you are on my mind and in my prayers. Lost my friend Cathy 5 years ago this past May. Still keep her “thank you” card where I see it every day. Cathy truly appreciated friendship. I was so blessed to have her and gained more joy from just being there for her. Reading your posts makes me think of Cathy and I miss her. Hang in there you are truly an inspiration.

  7. Denise Barnes says:

    What an awesome but very sobering post! Thank you for sharing this with the world. I am so glad you have and I pray continue to make it another 4+ + + + years! Love you!!! ~Denise

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