The Sisterhood

Shortly after my diagnosis someone referred to breast cancer as “the Sisterhood that nobody wants to join.” A kind of conscription-based sorority, with an irrevocable lifetime membership.  

 

Once you’re in, the Sisters just kind of …find you.  You can be anywhere, doing something perfectly ordinary, and – poof! –  a perfect stranger suddenly appears with a knowing look, a quick question, and a kind word or good deed. 

 

It’s a bit creepy, but in a nice way.  And it’s uncanny how they spot you.  Well, maybe not “uncanny” – the bald head is a bit of a give-away and if you’re a woman, statistically chances are it’s breast cancer. 

 

I never liked the idea of sororities – and if forced to sign up for a women’s club I definitely wouldn’t have picked this one.  Yet here I am: a full-fledged member of the Sisterhood, benefitting from the kindness of people I’ve never met or barely know.  The woman at the bank, the woman at the EI office, Libby, Amy, Patty, the woman in the grocery store, the women who read and comment on this blog…The list is long. 

 

No matter how much support you have from family and friends, the women in the Sisterhood have a special way of taking the “alone” factor out of cancer.  They take it and stomp up and down on it and kick it in the hind parts for good measure.  They show you that you can manage because they managed, and they’re still managing.  No one makes you feel like you can beat it quite like someone who has the battle scars to prove it can be done.  Even if it’s only done a day at a time.

 

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Living with Breast Cancer

3 responses to “The Sisterhood

  1. Jane

    I’ve never belonged to a group before, never felt special enough… until last May when the doctor confirmed my suspicions. (poor fellow was more upset than I was) Being the practical person that I am, when he told me I had cancer in my right breast, I said “fine, then let’s make sure the left side is also removed”. I did not want to chance any reoccurance on the other side… I have a beautiful 13 year old daughter to raise (her father could only do so if he grounded her until she was 21).

    The only times I cried was when I had to tell her what the doctor said and the injection of my first chemo needle… that made everything seem so final. I’m not saying I’m “oh so brave” but I knew this wasn’t going to kill me ’cause I just wasn’t going to let it!

    Then out of the woodwork appeared the sisterhood. They were always so quiet before… I hadn’t even guessed they belonged. Women of all ages who gave me so much strength, I almost felt re-born with such positive attitudes pushing at me from behind. My friends, co-workers, customers, neighbours… we all belong now and we all support each other. It’s instinct now for me to reach out and sometimes hug the “newbies” of the group, the ones with the still stunned look on their faces.

    Next Wednesday is my last surgery (hooray!). I get my new “matching perky girls”. I will heal and my hair, brows and lashes will grow back. I too, will then sink into the background and be fully pledged to the sisterhood. Then I will become one of the ladies who will nod or smile encouragement at the lady with the scarf on her head, in the July heat at the grocery store. And so will you.

  2. lcoppen

    How beautifully said.
    Good luck on your final surgery and healing — and a hearty welcome to the new perky girls!
    l.

  3. Andrea

    Hello everyone:
    I’ve just stumbled upon this blog and I’m moved and shaken and amazed — by your honesty, this beautiful writing, and your ability to face this unfair disease. I think one intent of this blog is to share one woman’s journey with the world, giving perspective to those outside her reality, and a link to those that share it.

    So: I have a question. I do not have cancer (at this point — I suppose that’s really the only way to say that) and I’m wondering: how would/do you feel about kind words from strangers not part of the sisterhood? Would you rather not be approached? I have often wanted to say something supportive and/or encouraging, but haven’t for fear of annoying or intruding too much… I read the post about even well-intentioned friends saying stupid things, and obviously, I’d do my best not to…but would you rather just not hear anything?

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