A breast cancer survivor shares her experiences with the BRCA gene.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Flurry of Furies

When I announced my news to my friends, a flurry of emails ensued. The leader of the pack was my longtime loyal pal, Tammy, who volunteered to be the point person for all communication. That kept me from being inundated with calls in which I had to repeat my information 10 million times.

She also set up schedules for meals, errands, dog walkers, hospital sitters and spend-the-nights. (Gary was supposed to be overseas for work during part of my 6-week recovery.)

I typically spend one-on-one time with my friends, so I was unprepared for the amount of energy, excitement, power, resolve and stamina of all of them collectively. Wow! I never realized I had my own set of furies to protect and guard me against all evildoing.

Emails were fired back and forth, with suggestions, comments, questions…and a few snippy remarks. (We’re talking about very strong personalities here.) Together, my friends could solve world peace. But at this point, they were solving my crisis. World peace would have to wait.

Frankly, all this attention embarrassed me and I felt like it was overkill. After all, I am Type A, strong-willed and high-strung, and surely didn’t need all this help. My parents lived close by and my husband would be on hand for most of the recovery time.

I called a few people in the group to express my concern…and each one pretty much told me to shut up and do what Tammy instructed. My friends, apparently, are more Type A than I.

Tammy, meanwhile, was masterfully fielding phone calls and emails, dispersing information, organizing schedules…and making homemade fudge for Gary, since she knew he loved sweets. Everyone needs a Tammy in their life.

Tammy is naturally a giving person and is always buying gifts & flowers for friends who are having a bad day, or helping throw children’s parties, or taking little old ladies to the grocery store. She also lost her mom to breast cancer when Tammy was only 24, so this disease has had a devastating impact on her life.

Finally, schedules were made and meals were assigned and hospital sitters were appointed and I was set. My friends were planning to carry Gary and me through this entire process so we wouldn’t be facing this alone. That kind of support is what gets you through tough times like this. Gary also reminded me that payback was going to be hell.

What’s more, I discovered that I was linked to an amazing prayer network. Not only friends offered their prayers, but they added me to lists that extended multiple states away. One friend even put me on a prayer list at Christ Church while she was visiting Oxford England. No word on the Pope at this point.

I was especially touched by people willing to pray for me. Not only because I believe in the power of prayer, but also because I’m a lousy pray-er myself, so I know what a sacrifice it is. It’s not that I don’t want to pray, but when I do, my mind drifts to making grocery lists or figuring out which plumber to call to fix the kitchen sink. So my prayers most often go on a tangent. After I found out about all the prayers being lifted up for me, I resolved to do much better in my own prayer life.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was going to need prayer this year more than I knew.

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