Homage to Marz
So if all two, or three of my readers (Hi Mom!) are wondering where I have been this past week, I have been helping my best friend prepare for, undergo, and now recover from a bilateral radical mastectomy. She is 33 years old, has stage III breast cancer, and has the BRCA1 gene mutation, hence the bilateral mastectomy rather than just removal of the breast with the cancer. This also means that she will have to undergo a hysterectomy sometime in the next 10 years, because the BRCA1 gene means that ovarian cancer is not a possibility, but is inevitable.
We met when we were still in high school. I was 16 and she was 15, and it was the kind of love at first sight friendship that happens to teenage girls. We were together 24/7, shared clothes and makeup, and even shaved our heads together. Little did we know back then that this rebellious act would better prepare her for losing her hair during chemotherapy a mere 16 years later. Over the last six to seven months, I have watched her face heartbreaking adversity with integrity, bravery, and dignity. She had chemotherapy for three months, lost all of her hair, suffered through a lot of adverse side effects, and had to take a leave of absence from her job.
She underwent surgery on Wednesday October 24th. She was discharged yesterday evening and I brought her home and stayed the night with her. I am staying tonight through tomorrow evening, at which time another dear friend will be coming to stay a few nights with her as well. I was so nervous when the nurse came in to change the dressing, and show me how to empty the drains that will remain in place for the next week. But it wasn’t scary, gross, or even upsetting. I didn’t see disfigurement; I just saw my best friend, a beautiful woman, with a couple of new scars. I told her later, I said, “Oh I was so nervous to see you without your dressing, but I just saw you, and you’re just as beautiful as ever.”
So remember a few posts ago when I wrote about my Alice and Olivia silver glitter and sequined platforms? I believe I hinted that they have a great story, and they really do. Back in June, I was taking my friend to Cedars Sinai to the cancer center to get a shot to help boost her white blood cell count as part of her chemotherapy regimen. Many chemo patients feel mentally “foggy” while going through chemo and have problems remembering things. It’s an actual medical phenomenon, called “chemo brain.” We were almost to Cedars when she realized that she had forgotten her shoes, and her wallet. I failed to notice too because she was wearing thick black socks and at a glance, it looked sort of like she was wearing some kind of slipper. We knew the people at the cancer center would still treat her without shoes, but we had some errands we wanted to run afterwards, including going to the pet store and grocery store. So we decided to stop by some store and pick her up a pair of shoes really quick. I was thinking some kind of slip on shoes from Target. But we ended up at Nordstrom Rack across from the Beverly Center. And that’s when we saw the Alice and Olivia platforms, two pairs left, one in her size, and one in my size. We attempted to find something cheaper and more practical but the Alice and Olivia platforms kept beckoning us.
Then we decided that we needed to create a new fashion rule:
If you forget to wear shoes to one of your chemo appointments, you must buy the most fabulous and over-the-top shoe you can find. AND, if your friend is there, she should buy a matching pair also.
Needless to say, I sort of went over my budget buying not one, but two pairs of silver glitter and sequined platforms, but the laughing antics that ensued while in Nordstrom Rack, and into that night, made it completely worth every penny. And someday soon, there will be a fashion shoot of us in our matching shoes!
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