I always harp on the point that I don’t want to give the cancer credit for anything. If cancer is a gift, I don’t know who is dolling that out, but he or she or it needs to rethink their choice of presents. A gift is something that you give to someone to brighten their day. I wouldn’t give this to anyone; no one deserves it. It’d be nice if my cancer came with a gift receipt because I’d take that shit back. I’d even settle for a store credit.
However, it can’t be denied that the circumstances living with cancer has dealt me have opened up many worlds – the biggest reward being the people that it has brought into my life. Craig and I spent the weekend on Cape Cod with one of those incredibly special people, our friend Lulu, the mother of my transplant cam padre, Matt (who turned 50 this year and was declared cancer-free from his Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, his transplant from an unrelated donor a great success after a tough road!).
Matt and me sporting our floppy hats that Lulu gave us.
We rocked them with the tags on trying to start a new trend.
Lulu was his primary caregiver at Hope Lodge last summer and the four of us spent many hours together sleeping, reading, chatting and (believe it or not) doing lots of laughing on the roof deck of The Lodge. They were both tremendously integral to my survival while living there and rebuilding.
Matt has been my rock, sounding board, bitching partner, and inspiration. We call each other jamokes and laugh at the absurdity of circumstances together like when I fell on my ass and broke my foot and he fell off his bike and broke his shoulder. His mom Lulu is one of the most interesting people we know and has brought so much positive perspective and life lessons. She’s been so helpful to Craig and to my mother, with whom she’s also forged a close relationship, as they all navigate how to deal with us crazy transplant patients and all of our baggage.
|A fantastic Cape Cod weekend with Lulu.|
To be able to spend time together at her beloved cottage, in the ocean and on the sand that we all pined for last summer from the hot city concrete was a little bit surreal and a whole lot beautiful. We talked about how going through the adversity that we have can carry so many positives with it and how grateful we are were that our circumstances brought us into each other’s lives, no matter how crappy those circumstances were.
I am so fortunate to have many relationships like this, people in my life that I never would have known had it not been for our cancer journeys intersecting. These relationships are so important to me, built upon a deep love and appreciation. To be able to tap the support of these friends that can relate on a whole different level is invaluable. I truly believe that people are brought together for a greater reason and that the connectedness between humans is a bond stronger than anything.
However, it doesn’t mean that just because people share a disease that the commonality makes them instant friends. I’ve also run into people that I have not aligned with at all and whose energy was not something I needed in my realm. Those that I’ve grown close with are kindred spirits that I thrive with. This would have happened with or without the whole cancer thing – that just happened to be the catalyst that brought us together. We have way more in common than that.
Steve, Jen and me - our first time meeting
Our friends Steve and Jen are two of the coolest, smartest, chillest, determined, kind, openhearted people I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. He is recovering from his donor transplant right now, far from home and grappling with some difficult Graft vs. Host Disease manifestations. I think of them both multiple times a day every single day. We’ve spent time together in LA and NYC and have shared so many intimate conversations over e-mail and texts, conversations that I often look back at to make me laugh or help me cope.
I love swapping stories with my buddy Ethan, checking in with Tiff and Bekah. We can talk to each other without filters. Our connections are immediately from heart to heart without all of the bullshit in between. We can be real and open and comfortable, a level of intimacy that’s refreshing and easy.
In The Book of Awakenings by Mark Nepo, one passage compares humans to spokes on a wheel. “What we reach for may be different, but what makes us reach is the same,” it reads. Each spoke is essential to keeping the wheel whole, but no two spokes are the same. Every spoke offers some different type of energy to draw from.
I’m so incredibly fortunate to have such strong spokes spinning in my wheel, propelling me forward.