A Heavy Heart

Vin gets back from his overseas trip today. I am looking forward to seeing him this evening if he isn't too tired. So much has happened since he left--some of which does not involve me, but rather a close, mutual friend.

Over the last few weeks a dear friend of both Vin and I, the woman who introduced us, had been suffering from terrible back and hip pains. Chiropractors and physical therapists, pain medications and exercises--nothing alleviated her suffering. She could not sleep; she could not work; and she could not sit without pain.

I worried for my friend thinking she might face back surgery in her future. What I didn't expect was that she had cancer. Tuesday, the morning Vin left for Europe, our friend learned that she is in the advance stages of cancer -- tumors on her hip, back, breast and brain.  Doctors immediately admitted her and started radiation in an effort to shrink the largest of the tumors in her hip and back. The immediate goal is to try and relieve her suffering. At the writing of this post, doctors still do not know the source of the cancer and have not started chemotherapy.

I didn't learn of her plight until the following Saturday morning. I was working a 12-hour shift at the pub, but took a call when I saw her number pop in my phone's display. In a calm and sweet voice, my friend broke the news and immediately began to comfort me.

"Diane, I am fine. I don't want you to worry. I am fine with this, really. I have led a good life."

She is only a few years older than me -- a young, vibrant, intelligent mother of two who is known for her love of dance, her family and friends, and for her graciousness and kindness.

As she spoke words of encouragement, I wept as silently as I could. Finally, I composed myself to ask the most basic of questions.

"What do you need? Can I bring you some audio books, music, movies? Can I come and see you tomorrow?" I asked.

After we ended the call, I worked out my shift with the heaviest of hearts. I was happy to be working; it kept me from crying all day. I wanted to call Vin, but knew that this was her news to share with him and on her timetable. No doubt she would wait till he was home, back safely in the United States, before she would break this devastating news to him. They are best friends, talking several times a week and spending at least one night a week on the dance floor together. Despite their close relationship, she encouraged and was very happy when Vin and I started dating.

If you are reading this post, it is only because Vin now knows that she has cancer.

With all of his relatives back in Puerto Rico, Vin once told me that he considered both she and I to be his family here in the United States. She was the first person to befriend him and took the time to introduce him to her long list of friends and acquaintances, me included.

Now I'm worried for both my friends. I want to do what I can to be there for them, but this is unfamiliar territory to me. With the exception of Sassy's mother, I have not had to face serious illness or the possibility of losing someone so close to my heart.

If you have words of advice, please share them with me here or at my e-mail.


utenzi said...

That really sucks. For her obviously, but also her kids and family, you, Vin and the rest of her friends. Cancer is always a horrible thing but even worse when it hits a person that young.

My closest brush with the death of someone young was when my college roommate of 3 years killed himself 2 years after we got out of college. I'd just visited him and his family a month before that and it shocked everyone.

I still think about that fairly often even though it's been almost 20 years. He had everything to live for. He was much better looking than I am, had a beautiful girlfriend, large devoted family, brilliant with math, great personality. In cases like that you always wonder why. And while he took his one life, the same question arises with your friend, Diane. Why would this happen to her? Damned if I know--but it ain't frickin' fair.

Jamy said...

I am so sorry for your friend. The best advice I can give is to be there. Don't run away from her. Practical things are the best--offer to watch the kids, bring meals, bring books, drive her to the hospital--take on some of those necessary, tedious day-to-day things if you can. You may not do exactly the right thing, but being there shows that you care. Sometimes being quiet with someone is the best thing. You'll know what to do if you listen to your gut. It's ok to be sad and cry--that's how you feel.

Take care. Hope you and Vin are holding up ok.

Xavierism said...

I'm so sorry about your friend. Cancer. The word continues to haunt me even though I'm a cancer survivor.

All I can say is to offer your support and love and remind your friend that she had purpose in this world. Remind her of her value...and what she gave to others in this life. Say what you've always wanted to say but never did. I'm glad you and Vin will be her angels on earth.

She will be in my prayers...as all those that have been touched by your friend....


queenofsass said...

Hold her hand, tell her you love her and pray for her to be in a peaceful state of mind. And when we go to Montas--hoist a drink in her honor.

trinity2 said...

I'm sorry to hear about your friend. I know I only met her that one time. She is the sweetest person I ever met. Please let her know that she is in my prayers.

Hang in there Di. If you need a shoulder to lean on I'm there for you. Just give me a ring.

evercurious said...

I am really not good with these types of things, but I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers. You and Vin too.

Diane Mandy said...

I want tot hank everyone for their thoughts and kind words. The news of my friend has become even worse. Doctor's cannot guarantee that she will even live a month. At this point, Vin and I spend as much time as we can with her. Time is so very precious.

Thank you all again, your support has meant a lot to us.

Xavierism said...

Prayers. Your friend, and all those that love her have been in my prayers....


Diane Mandy said...

Thank you, Xavier.