|Me and Malea, Nick's Corner Grill 4/1/12|
It was the second major fundraiser for my best friend, Malea, who is fighting stage IV breast cancer and she had asked me specially to come and help her get through the night. Only for my best friend would I have spent six hours in a bar and grill with a loud band. (Next time I'm taking ear plugs to deaden the sound a little bit, like musicians do, although next time could possibly be, um, never.)
Seriously, it was lots of fun when I could focus on it. I got to sit at the "cool" table with my best friend and provided her with a familiar face. I told her it was okay for her not to "work" the room because she didn't know anyone. I bought 75 raffle tickets, hoping to win the fender guitar for Justin, but the drawings kept getting pushed back and by midnight, I could barely hold my head up and my esophagus was on fire and I kept getting the hiccups, so I gave Malea all of my tickets and told her to text me if Justin won. I know she was tired too, but she wanted to stay to finish off the night and to listen to her husband's band play. And it was the last major fundraiser she was planning on being involved in. She had put a lot of work into it (which, in my opinion, wasn't her job, but what do I know?) and she needed to see that it was successful. And it was.
We don't have a final amount yet, but it was over $3,000. Which unfortunately is not enough for her to finish out her treatment. There is a golf fundraiser coming up on Justin's birthday and I know he would really like to go to that one, but I would happily stay home.
It was a social anxiety nightmare, of course. After reading my blog yesterday, you get why I don't do the loud band, crowded bar and grill routine. And after talking to Justin, who stayed until midnight with me like a true trooper, we've decided that we are truly just too old for this stuff. I used to find this kind of thing fun, as long as I had Justin's sleeve to hold onto. I loved going to concerts, which blow the definition of loud up completely. I'd just grab the back of his shirt and let him part the crowd.
Now? Not so much.
Malea and I have been best friends for about 10 years now. She's come to the emergency room to sit with me while Justin had to go home to the kids. She's called me for advice and I've called her for advice and we rarely take each others' advice, but it's nice to know she won't get all judgmental on me if I don't and vice versa. We scrapbooked together for years, until I moved out to Winchester and she moved to Hawaii and then I couldn't find anyone out here to scrapbook with (turns out there are several neighbors who scrapbook, but I was never invited and I could never screw up the courage to invite myself and really, should I have to?). And then, four years later, she came back from Hawaii and we were living an hour apart and I hadn't scrapbooked (or taken pictures, for that matter) for years and gave her all of my scrapbooking stuff. Now I cross stitch. (I probably didn't need to tell you that, but thought I would throw it in.) And she learned to cross stitch from me and has a piece with purple and pink butterflies that is finished and I keep forgetting to get from her when I see her.
She's the person I call when something happens that upsets me. She's the person I text with my random stupid thoughts and fears. She's the person who always manages to know exactly when I sit down to eat and choose that time to call or text me and we laugh about her timing. She's the person who "gets" me and the person who laughs at the same things I find hysterically funny, but no one else understands.
I don't have many girlfriends. I have acquaintances, sure, like everyone else. I have neighbors I wave hello to. I have almost 300 facebook "friends." Some of whom I have gotten to know fairly well through the online community and would really like to meet.
But Malea has the place of honor in my heart. Best friend. Those words should be surrounded by butterflies and flowers and be all curliqued and backed up by lace. Because do guys have best friends? You don't hear about that much. It seems to be a girl thing.
You can imagine how hard it is to be the best friend (or daughter, for that matter) who finds out your BFF has cancer. And that they missed some lymph nodes when they operated the first time and the cancer came back. And that the cancer is then in her ovary. And finally, that the breast cancer has spread to her lungs and there is nothing more they can do except keep her on a chemo regimen and have her come in to see how far it is progressing and how fast.
More like devastating.
So when she found this treatment clinic and it was really expensive because her HMO is an asshole who doesn't cover any treatment outside of their buildings (not even the prescriptions!), even though her doctor said she was welcome to find another provider if she wasn't happy with her, which she wasn't, I was happy for her, but worried, because who has $20,000 - $30,000 lying around to pay for medical treatments? Most people don't. Most people probably don't even come close.
But somehow she has managed to get together the money through family and friends and fundraising and her cancer markers are down, which leads me to think that her HMO just gave up but it's not really too late. It's just a matter of having the right doctor. A doctor that will treat your whole body and your mind too and who will not try to kill you with chemo to kill the cancer. (Natural Horizons in Fairfax, Virginia if you're interested. They also treat fibromyalgia patients and if it wasn't an hour away, I would consider it. Because if there's hope for stage 4 cancer, then there has to be hope for fibro, right?) My insurance is considerably less strict about who I see and who they will cover, so it wouldn't be a tens of thousands deal, most likely. But I digress.
My point is that...well, I'm not sure what my point is. Except that I am glad that I went Saturday night and I am equally glad it is over. And that I am too old to go out to places that are crowded and loud. And too socially anxious and inept and awkward, but I covered all of that yesterday.
But I am extremely happy that I got to spend a whole six hours with my very best friend in the whole world, supporting her in her quest for health.
It is inconceivable to me that the cancer will beat her. She's just not going to accept that diagnosis. And I believe she is going to get her miracle, just like my mom got hers last year.