(Today’s blog will be brought to you by my friend Jeri Lynn. We’ve been friends a long time. We had the best day yesterday–you learn it’s all relative when it comes to “the best”. It was no concert, birthday or weekend getaway but we made the most of it.)
Enough About You, Jill. Let’s Talk About ME.
Hi Jill’s friends and followers! I’m Jeri Lynn and Jillian has asked me if I would like to guest blog. I feel flattered to be asked. I mean, not just any Jane off the street gets to chime in here, right? Jillian and I met in 2001 in Pittsboro NC. I was already working at First Health when she came on board. Until then, with a few notable exceptions, I was a progressive woman awash in a sea of backward rednecks. Then Jillian shows up with her intelligence, quick wit, sarcasm, open mind, and true desire to be helpful and all of a sudden work was fun again! It wasn’t long before our friendship moved to real life in addition to work life and I soon had the honor to be invited to her wedding and then to the birth of her first son, Colby. She felt like a sister from the beginning.
And now she has cancer.
Now WE have cancer.
A bunch of asshole cells decided to mutate and try to take over her body. They parked themselves in her right breast and then reached out to the surrounding lymph nodes. They hid like the cowards they are and, were it not for Jillian’s dedication to getting healthy and losing significant weight over the last year, would have quietly taken over her beautiful, strong body.
Here’s where it becomes about me: I’ve never had a friend with cancer or any other life threatening and altering disease. Until now I never let my mind touch on the possibility that one of my besties might leave this earth before me. Until now I thought anything could be overcome with enough fortitude and positive thinking. Until now I was blissfully unaware. I’m still coming to grips with it all, accepting this is the new reality, grudgingly learning more about cancer than anyone should ever have to know. I mean, how does one navigate these waters when one never expected to be swimming in them to begin with?
I told Jillian in the beginning that I wasn’t going to treat her differently. I wasn’t going to NOT ask questions that might seem inappropriate to ask. I wasn’t going to stop making inappropriate jokes. I wasn’t going to be afraid to have the hard discussions. I’d like to think I’m savvy enough to know when to press and when to back off. Today I asked her to let me know if I get it wrong. But thus far I feel like we’re still US. Yes, cancer is in the room. But it has not redefined our friendship.Â She still thinks I make bonehead decisions and I still get aggravated with her vague-booking. We still have the very rare tiff. But with any loving, trusting relationship these things happen. You address it and you move on. You don’t break up the marriage just because someone gets their feelings a little hurt, right?
Yesterday I went with her for her third chemo appointment. I’ve got to say I felt very loved that she asked me if I’d like to accompany her. She’s fighting a nasty beast and she asked me to be her second. She trusts me enough to know that I understand the gravity of the situation and yet won’t treat her like a victim. And I’ve got to say it was an enjoyable day. The staff at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance is stellar. The only hitch in the giddy-up was finding a parking space. I’d say that’s pretty awesome considering the hundreds of other cancer patients there at the same time. It is a well oiled machine but it is not impersonal. Quite the opposite. I felt like the level of concern for her was genuine. No one was phoning it in. If any one of the doctors, nurses or administrative staff was having a bad day, there was no hint of it. I feel so grateful she has this medical center and this group of people helping her get well.
I wish Jillian didn’t feel like she has to be the strongest person that ever had cancer. It worries me that her fierce will to get things done will deplete her. It scares me that she may push herself too hard. But someone also pointed out to me that these may very well be the attributes that save her. I’m not sure. I just want her to be ok with saying “I’m not doing that. I have cancer and I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to.” I’ve encouraged her to use the “cancer card” in any and all situations in which it could make life easier.
In 2013 Jillian asked me to participate in the Susan G Komen 3-Day walk. That entire experience alone is blog worthy, but the part that really jumps out at me now is this: The first morning of the 60 mile walk they had a big Opening ceremony. There was much fanfare, pumping up all us walkers with music and inspirational stories. When the walk began Jill quietly said to me, “Ya know, I think I’m going to get breast cancer some day.” I will admit I poo-pooed her. I thought she was just caught up in the moment. That she was being dramatic. I didn’t give her words the gravity I should have. I thought blowing it off was the right thing to do. In hindsight I wish I’d talked with her more about it. Instead, we spent the first mile of the walk with me complaining about how I should have peed one more time before we started. My takeaway from that is this: When Jill has a feeling, LISTEN. The chick has been prophetic more than once.
The only thing I’ve done so far that I think maybe might have been wrong was ask her to promise me she’s not going to die. I know that’s not fair. I know it’s not really all about me. But selfishly I needed to hear her make that promise. Because I KNOW Jill. I TRUST Jill. And if she makes a promise she’ll honor it. That’s just how she rolls.
Thanks for reading this far. I’m so pleased you did. And what I’d like you to do now is go to her gofundme account and HELP. The need is real. The funds are for basic living expenses. Nobody is living large up in here. If I had a lot of money I’d fund her entire fight myself. But I don’t. I’m trying to be generous of thought with the people I know are capable of contributing $10 and just aren’t for some reason. All I can do is hope they never know the reality Jill and her family now know. I’m not one for begging, but I beg you do what you can to make my girlfriend’s life just a tad easier.
Please pray if you’re a pray-er. Send positive energy if that’s more your thing. All positivity is very much appreciated.
PS. Jillian hates being called Jill. And she really doesn’t like being called Jilly. Of course me being me I call her what I want. Not even cancer is going to change that. 🙂
PPS: I don’t hate being called Jill. I hate being called Jilly, you just do what you want anyway. :)~
I so enjoyed your visit!