I heard some really good news this week. Someone got a job that she was after ... and I was absolutely delighted for her.
"What's so unusual about that?" you might say ... OK so even in this awful economic climate that is no great shakes... but what might surprise you is this person lives far away ... I have never met her ... I haven’t even spoken to her... and I could sit next to her on a bus and she wouldn’t know me from Adam ... or Eve, for that matter.
I am not exactly sure when I ‘met’ CK ... but it was just after my diagnosis in August. That awful foggy time ... when the shock of the news has left you numb and bewildered. I spent a lot of the time surfing the net to find out more about breast cancer ... what are the side effects of chemotherapy ... what kind of surgery... what is the long term prognosis ... why me ...? I was looking for information, reassurance and empathy. And that was when I found the Macmillan website. A brilliant resource that on a daily basis unfortunately ‘welcomes’ hundreds of just-diagnosed cancer patients, and their friends and family, like bees to a honey pot. And magically ... amongst the thousands of people who log on .... and within the maze of forums ... that is where I electronically bumped into CK ... doing the same as me.
Now ... CK and I have a number of things in common ... we like photography ... and animals, particularly cats ... walking ... oh, and a little wine with supper ... but the majority of our e-mail conversations over the last six months have been about breast cancer ... and getting rid of it. As CK and I were diagnosed at about the same time our treatment has often coincided ... and we have had long rambling discussions on how we have tackled the different challenges. CK started her chemotherapy the day before me and so a lot of our initial discussions were about how we were each coping with the side effects. CK is much more grounded ... far less dramatic ... which is good for me. For example, as you probably remember, I hated losing my hair and both the anticipation and the seeing it dropping out was quite traumatic for me. However CK was quite matter of fact about it all ... I remember her telling me hers was dropping out whilst she was decorating ... and that she was laughing at the fact it kept sticking to the wallpaper she was putting up ... which made me smile too ...
Now that we have finished the chemo our more recent e-mail exchanges have been about scans ... and surgery ... and radiotherapy. That was until she sent me the note to say that she was pleased as she had been for a job interview and had been successful. Obviously I read the news and was delighted for her ... but then I sat back and realised it meant a lot to me too. I felt uplifted ... but why? Why did I feel excited about someone, who I have never even met, getting a job?
Because ... for the very first time ... CK and I were celebrating something that wasn’t to do with cancer. We weren’t patting each other on the back for getting through another session of chemotherapy ... it wasn’t wishing good luck with the surgery ... or congratulating the birth of stubbly eyelash growth. No ... this was a new job ... a promotion ... we were celebrating something that ‘normal’ people do. And that made me happy ... for her ... and for me. Together we were embracing the future.
So tomorrow, whilst my friend is sitting in her kitchen ... the kitchen I have never stepped in ... celebrating her birthday ... I will be here ... many miles away ... celebrating mine ... and raising a large glass of fizz to my new found ‘twin’.
CK ... it has been a tough old journey ... and we still have a way to go ... but we are getting there.
Many happy returns to the both of us!