When most people think of cancer, and how it impacts a person’s life, family and friends’ lives, with sometimes a looming threat of death, most people start to shake and quiver at the mentioning of cancer. Two months ago, I begin my second life-term sentencing, with a Lymphatic cancer. When I was around 22 years old, I had to do the first sentencing with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. That sentencing lasted a year. There were eleven months of chemotherapy, and 3 weeks of radiation. The pain, fears, tears, and the abandonment were real. Losing the will power and control of your body’s functions were hard to handle, especially when you are so, so young and independent. The feverish and painful attacks that occurred, soon after receiving chemotherapy were gut wrenching. Fatigue that cannot be described in books was harsh. So harsh that sometimes you would wish, even for a flitting moment, that you would just go to sleep, never waking, and rid of all of that suffering.
Suffering becomes a part of life. Then you begin to look at your friends and family and wonder how they must be feeling. You begin to force yourself, through all the pain and fear to crack a smile, joke, or break out in a dance to remind everyone… “I am still here, so please stop worrying, and whatever you do, treat me as if cancer does not live here!”
So, I begin to cook dinners at home, schedule movie and dinner nights around chemotherapy treatments, and dance. I begin to laugh more; I begin to get in with the jokes, perfecting my dance moves and cooking skills! Why? Because my friend who at 18 years of age had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and all he wanted was for me to treat him ‘normal’, not to fear him, and not to leave him!
We never witness his hair loss. However, he got it cut really low, and only if you were up close, could you see the small bald spots. He never lost weight, because I, being a true southern woman, cooked, and he ate (I will not blame him for my weight issues today… hahaha)! He loved my cooking, and all of that fat that was served in it. He is the first cancer patient I have been around that gained weight, while going through chemotherapy. I say it was because I can cook, and my food was really, really good, but we really know it was the goodness of God!
Tomorrow my best friend of all of these years, will turn 34 years old. He has been in remission every since. He has gone on to become a husband, a homeowner, the god-father of my daughter, Gabriella, and will soon graduate as a Radiology Assistant, in December (he loves all things radiology)! He is brilliant! He knows it, because I tell him all the time! His name is Rolando Dupree, my best friend, supporter, my brother.
Happy Birthday baby!!
Now, I would have been happy, with this story, had it just finished right there. Rolando is healthy, happy, and a good, good best friend! However, it does not end here for me. I have two people that I am very close to; they are treated as family. For emergency contacts, you will see their names, especially for Gabriella. Her God-Mother sent me a text about 2.5 months ago and told me that some dumb doctor had told her that she had Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I just stared at the message, and I was cursing her every way I could, up and down the street. First of all, why would you text that too me? Secondly, are you freaking kidding me!?!? No way was this happening again! She went into the hospital for a ruptured hernia, not cancer! After the shock past, I kinda freaked out, and I was at work. It was really bad. This person and I have been friends, since birth. Our mothers were good friends, before her mother succumbed to cancer, at the age of 38. This is a lifetime friendship, who has the same cancer as Rolando. After leaving work, and driving around aimlessly trying to figure out what that conversation was going to be like, she finally called.
I have since shaken off the dread and fear that I had. This girl is so strong. She does not want to appear weak or out of control. She is the infamous controller of her emotions. Everyone around her is screaming and hollering and crying, because she is so loved. She is the only one standing in the middle of the floor (on the phone, wherever), directing emotions like a police officer in a traffic jam. “Oh, ya’ll think cancer is going to win? Shoo, ya’ll are crazy, I GOT THIS! I am mad as hell, and cancer picked the wrong girl! Ya’ll know me! So stop all of that crying and get it together, so we can do this!” I am on the phone blubbering like an idiot, trying to get control of myself, cause she is so right. If anyone can kick cancer Apple Sea Salt, it’s Sharon Tyler!
Thus far, she’s had some good days; she has had some weary days, but Lord, she WILL NOT complain! Later her diagnoses were made more clearer. She has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is much more aggressive than non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She was given a 91% chance of survival. She is in her suffering phase now. We just finished round 3 of chemotherapy. We will prayfully march into chemotherapy #4, then we will do THE pet scan. The army of prayers are up and out working, that this will be the FINAL treatment!
I love you sister, from Joyce Fulton, who is watching over you from the kingdom of heaven!
This has been so stressful, challenging, but just like my two best friends forever, I am so strong. I can handle just about anything, because I have survived everything. Who better to walk this path, with my friends than me. We got this, covered in the blood of Jesus! It’s lonely being the girl with 2 best friends, with two types of Lymphoma cancers, but I GOT THIS! Why? Because of the friends and company I keep! I am still laughing and dancing. My cooking has gotten a healthier. So, I am now toasting with a good and health chocolate protein shake! hahahahaha
Anyone and everyone is susceptible to experiencing some form of cancer, directly or indirectly. It is not that cancer came knocking; it is what we did, when it came knocking. Rolando and Sharon are almost 2 decades a part, when cancer came. Rolando had problems breathing, and the doctor told him that he was developing asthma. His persistence in asking for a simple x-ray revealed a tumor, in between his lungs. Sharon did not know at all. She went in for a rupture hernia that required an emergency surgery. When they opened her up, they found tumors in her stomach. We do not get to chose or determine the path of life that is structured, walked, and lived by us. Our job is to live it earnestly and humbly filled with hope and the love of God.
Just a girl that loves her two best friends forever,