I couldn’t believe that my friend had breast cancer…

It was really surreal but it happened 😦 People being people, we always think these things always happen to other people… not to us or the people we care about.

The BFF & I visited our dear friend Threez yesterday, where she was recuperating from surgery.

The tough cookie had to remove part of her breast and all of her nipple, but thankfully because of swift action upon early detection, Threez didn’t require any chemotherapy since the cancer cells were all removed before it spread.

Threez is an incurable workaholic, like many women I know, and some weeks ago my friend woke up with a strange pain in her right breast…

“It was a pain that was well, weird-weird…” Threez explained to us as Pam & I sat with her in her living room. I couldn’t help but notice her usually cheerful face was uncharacteristically grim and pale, but her eyes still shone brightly. Like that of a weary warrior woman who’d triumphed a great battle. Threez had so much to live for.  “And times like these, your body just knows.”

She went to a doctor for a check-up later that day, the morning she woke up with the strange pain in her breast, and that lead to a series of medical check-ups with different experts.

After the painful biopsy where some sample cells were extracted from the breast was done, the doctors studied the results and it was highly recommended that she went for surgery. Threez and her husband Kevin were terrified of course. Who wouldn’t be? My friend was in her early 40s and her own mother was diagnosed with it and lost her breast over ten years ago. They had a family history of breast cancer.

I wanted to hold Threez’s hand, but she was such a stoic woman. And though she looked frailer than I’ve ever seen her, I knew and could tell, that she was okay.

It was strange because there was no lump, though there was a slight swelling. Threez was diagnosed with Stage 0 breast cancer. And since they’d quickly removed the cancer cells before they spread, she didn’t require any chemotherapy treatments but she still lost her nipple.

It is of course, a very traumatic loss for any woman, but her wonderful husband lovingly pointed out that it’s done its duty since all their 3 kids don’t need to be breastfed any more.

I swear, my friend certainly married the right man 🙂

Me being me, I also told her that nipples were just braille for “suck here” and since her kids weren’t babies anymore and since Kevin didn’t mind, it was really all okay 😛

Anyways. I’m glad my friend is going to be okay. And I think Threez is a very, very, very brave woman. And even braver for giving me permission to blog about her breast cancer ordeal so people can be educated about these things.

Do also check out her blog – acleanbreast.wordpress.com 🙂

The reality is as such – cancer can happen to anyone. Women should regularly do their breast examinations and if you’re 40, go for your mammogram. Regular checks will save your life and they’d just take you wee minutes really. Also, listen to your body. It’s times like these that it’s better to be overly cautious and careful, than sorry and regretful.

Personally, earlier this year I had a scare myself. I finally went to get it checked out after the pain didn’t go away after days, despite my busy schedule that was packed with meetings and the works.

Sitting alone in the waiting area, I noticed a Chinese lady seated across me. She was also alone. But it was her eyes I first noticed, besides her bald head. Her eyes were blank and vacant. A sad emptiness that could only mean one thing. She had a seasoned shawl thrown around her and she must have looked much older than she really was. She couldn’t be more than 50.

Our eyes met and I gave her a courteous nod and a smile, before going back to my iPhone. The phone rang and the clinic nurse picked it up. I remember guffawing inside as I overheard the conversation, because the nurse was exasperatedly explaining to the party on the other line that the doctor was a breast surgeon, not a plastic surgeon – so no boob jobs, thank you very much.

It was my turn next, and I went in for my check up. The doctor was very professional and used his equipment to detect any abnormalities. My scans came out and thankfully, my results were normal. I felt a huge wave of relief wash over me and I thanked him before heading back out to settle the bill.

Waiting for my turn to pay, I sat back down on the clinic’s waiting room sofa and was sending out an SMS when I felt the woman’s gaze at me again. I tried to avoid it but i felt it so strong.

Tentatively, I looked up and realized she was looking at me with an almost forlorn expression that instinctively made me want to reach out and hold her hand, despite the fact we were complete strangers. She looked so sad and all alone, it really broke my heart.

“Miss,” She hoarsely whispered in Mandarin. “Are you diagnosed with breast cancer too?”

I opened my mouth but didn’t speak because I could tell that she just wanted to be heard. And my honest reply wouldn’t exactly encourage her either. I was right. She didn’t want for my answer.

“I should have taken better care of myself. My  work, it was just too stressful. All those hours…,” She bitterly shared with me as I put away my phone and leaned forward to give her my fullest, kindest attention. “The chemotherapy. It’s so painful. I hurt. So much.”

She appeared so broken and fragile. I really wanted to reach out to her. Maybe hold her hand? Told her it’d all be okay? But what right did I have? A quiet voice within me bubbled to the surface – Just listen to her, Ning.

“It’s such a pity, you are so young… and so pretty,” the older woman told me, as  her weary eyes roamed across my face. I didn’t feel the need to correct her, because it didn’t matter. She sighed softy and then asked me. “What stage is your cancer?”

While I’ve often been told that I’m great at my craft, which is considered “tricks” to some… one thing I’m really not good at is lying. I’m good at keeping secrets, but I’m vastly horrid at making up lies. Always have been.

So I was tremendously thankful when the nurse called the lady’s name and she hurriedly got up to see the doctor. I smiled warmly and sincerely told her to take care of herself, as she hobbled over to the open door.

I remembered feeling very sorry for her and her difficult condition. I felt for her, even though I didn’t know her. But she could have been anyone – my neighbour, a friend’s mother, a relative… we are afterall, separated by how many degrees?

Paying up at the counter, I said a little pray for the woman I met, hoping she’d get well soon and recover. But even now as I share this, months after this bittersweet experience, I still remember her hollow eyes and sad, fragile face.

So saying all these,  I beseech you to remind your loved ones about how important regular check-ups can be. Cancer is ruthless and anyone can be a victim. Take care now…

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “I couldn’t believe that my friend had breast cancer…

  1. Pam

    Great sharing, BFF! yah what happened to threez really surprised me too because I remember having a conversation with her abt 2 years back (when a friend of ours passed away of ovarian cancer) that cancer is just something that we think won’t happen to us… It happens to other people… but it happened to threez.

    Thanks for sharing your personal story at doc’s. I know I had a scare then and I’m glad you went for a checkup. I only have one you, BFF! just as I’m sure people who have lost loved ones would say about their friends or family members.

  2. Ning, you put it all so beautifully. Thanks for talking to that lady – just being able to talk to someone can make the difference between a horrible day and a great one. I hope to do you proud and go from frail and grim to chirpy and trim again, haha! PS Today got most of my steri-strips out, hurray! Hopefully this time next week I can shower again. Oh, the small joys of life!

  3. Pingback: Pam & Ning Come To Visit « A Clean Breast Of It

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