Watching & Learning: Supporting a Friend Through Breast Cancer

Watching & Learning: Supporting a Friend Through Breast Cancer

Brandy and I met at work. We actually met in the break room. Brandy had worked in our office before and I come to find out that we had mutual friends who were also co-workers. We ate lunch together a lot. We sat and talked and got to know each other. It came to be that Brandy lived just a town over from me, three miles away and I knew all her in-laws. Our kids were in the same junior high-- 2 of them were even boyfriend/girlfriend at one point! Brandy's husband also ended up coaching my foster daughter’s t-ball team that same year. So, we got to be friends more than coworkers.

I remember one day, Brandy and I were talking and she stated she was scratching her chest and found a lump. She was worried, which is totally normal. They always tell us to seek medical advice and not worry. Well, for a woman, that is easier said than done.

Brandy started her medical testing and was waiting on the results. I can still remember the day she came in and told us. It was in fact breast cancer. Brandy knew she was going to have a long road ahead of her, and not only was she worried for her health, but she was worried for how she was going to support her family. I know if I was in her shoes I would want something to lessen my burden. Worrying about your health and finances is just too much for anyone to handle. So, I just sat and thought.

As weeks went by, the situation just ate at me. What can I do to help Brandy out? I went to her house and asked her and her husband if it would be ok that I put on a benefit for them. She obliged, and so the journey began. My coworkers and I got busy.

I found the location, we found a hog, we found someone to smoke the hog, we started calling for donations, we called to have banners made with the date, we had designed a T-shirt and started T-shirt sales. I found an auctioneer and we started getting people involved. By the time of the event, we had cookers full of meat, tables full of gifts, everything was organized and now we were waiting on people to come and show support for Brandy. The doors opened and people who loved and supported her came, filled their bellies and stayed for an eventful auction that ended as a complete success.

From this tragic experience, a couple of things happened. I had gained a close friend, someone who I could take a journey with and watch through the healing process. Cancer not only affects you in the now, there is a lot that happens after, and Brandy has experienced many of the side effects.  I supported Brandy, not only thru her medical journey, I supported her thru all the other obstacles that came about. And, I still support her today.

The other thing I learned from this, is that I should do self-examinations even though I was under 40. I tried my best to remember to do them monthly.

It just so happened that a couple years ago, while sitting around I scratched my chest and, I found a lump. Can you guess one of the first people I texted?

The tables had turned. She was supporting me through this process telling me it was going to be ok. She was stressing how I had caught it early and that I should make an appointment first thing Monday morning.

I did all of the above, except I kept worrying and as previously mentioned, this is normal and something a woman cannot stop doing. Well not this woman, anyway. Brandy contacted me throughout the process and made sure I was OK and wanted to know the results.

It came to be that my lump was a non-cancerous lipoma, so I was a lucky lady. I now know what to look for and thanks to going through Brandy's journey with her, not only was I prepared for all my next steps, I had someone who had been there to go to with any of my concerns.

Sometimes a bad experience has an amazing outcome! In this case, I made a close friend, who is not only a fighter but a survivor!

Thank you Brandy for sharing this journey with me.

Presented by: Shari Axley