Issie: My Cancer Friends                                                          

My Cancer Friends

The bond between people who have had cancer is undeniably one of the strongest ties imaginable.  It is true that you cannot completely understand something until you go through it.  Before I got cancer, I did not have any real experience or opinion on it.  I suppose I was scared of it and might have believed that it could possibly mean that your life was over.  Well, how my attitude has changed!

When the word broke that I was sick, other breast cancer survivors rallied around me.  It was completely amazing.  They offered me support, answered my questions, wiped my tears, showed me their scars and quite simply nurtured me through the dark early days.  Any time, day or night they were at the end of the phone and often called to my house at the drop of a hat if I was having a tough day.  They reassured me and we laughed and we cried together.  Sometimes you cannot find the words to express oneself, but my cancer friends understood.  We had a common goal and that was to survive.

I remember when I started chemotherapy, and the side effects began, I rang one of my cancer friends and she listened and explained how it may unfold over the coming months.  When I was unsure of anything they rushed to my side offering support and reassurance.

Obviously my family, friends and community utterly supported me during this time too.  However, there is nothing like experience and my cancer friends completely understood the reality of the treatment and the emotional consequences.

When I returned home after my big operation, the cancer girls brought me out to lunch.  We had a great time and laughed over a bottle of wine and good food.  I simply cannot describe what it meant to me to be surrounded by such strong women.  

Here is a photo of us on that day, having lunch in MacCarthy's Bar in Castletownbere, 4 breast cancer survivors, happy to be alive.  From left to right Clare Lynch, Eileen McGrath, myself and Mairead O'Sullivan.

The strange thing is the lady second from the left, Eileen McGrath, was my business studies teacher in secondary school!  And I went on to do Business Studies in college and a Masters in Business Administration.  I still go to Eileen's house regularly for lunch and we all live very close to one another.

I believe that you need to talk about your experience as you go through it.  Nobody understands it like someone who has also gone through a similar experience.  I love my special cancer friends.  We have a bond that no one can break or truly understand.  There were days that I could not have gotten out of bed were it not for these ladies.  So I want to say a very special thank you to my girlie's.  We are survivors and we will continue to fight the fight.  Together.  xxx :-)