Monday, 8 June 2015

Saying goodbye

Last Wednesday I went to the funeral of my wonderful friend Jojo. Breast cancer killed her a year after she was diagnosed, having spread to her liver. She was only 32 years old.

People have asked me if I got to say goodbye. I didn't. The last message we got from Jo was the day before she died. She said she felt poopy and that she was having crazy dreams. I knew she was seriously ill, but I had no inkling that she would die the very next day, so there were no goodbyes. However, I had told her many times in the weeks and months before she died that I loved her very much... so I feel... ok (at peace?) about that.

Tomorrow, less than a week after Jo's funeral, I am going to visit one of my other very close friends in hospital. She too has breast cancer, it too spread to her liver, she too was originally diagnosed a year ago. She is 38 years old, seriously ill, and her doctors have given her a matter of weeks, at most, to live.

Everyone who knows her is currently praying and wishing hard for a miracle. This woman is phenomenally strong, phenomenally determined. If anyone could prove doctors wrong, it's definitely her. And I will not let go of hope. As far as I'm concerned, while you're alive, there's hope.

But I have to also face a reality. Tomorrow might be the last time I see her. 

I've shared descriptions of cancer from Siddhartha Mukherjee's book before, and they've come back to mind today. There are a lot of women with breast cancer who understandably don't like to use the word "fight". However, Rosie does and she has been fighting hard from day 1, and I know she is still fighting hard right now. But Mukherjee is absolutely right, cancer is a lethal shape shifting entity, it is the emporer of all maladies, the king of terrors, the most relentless and insidious enemy.
And so, tomorrow, when I leave the hospital, that really might be the last time I see her. I don't want to say goodbye. I don't even want to think it. I don't know how to say it. I don't know if I even should say it. It is just plain wrong to be saying goodbye to friends who are in their 30s. So, so wrong.

1 comment:

  1. I am very sorry you have another friend who isn't doing well. This isn't right.

    I understand what you meant when you said it is hard to say goodbye. Saying it is like almost agreeing with the circumstances and the results. Like you, I don't agree with seeing young people die from cancer (no one should be dying from this, really). It seems wrong.

    It is unacceptable that there are so many people dying from this disease. Too many years have passed. Too many of them have died. We need a cure soon. It's getting worse each year and it's scary.

    I am thinking of you and your friend. Tell her I said hello, even though we've never met.