By: Roberta Nin Feliz
“I never saw myself getting cancer ‘cause I never smoked a cigarette. I always thought it was linked to cigarettes but I guess you just get it.”
Seeing one of my best friends on a hospital bed after getting a tumor removed was extremely devastating. As Jessica, my other best friend, and I made our way to see her at the hospital, I remember telling Jessica that we had to be strong and not cry in front of her. She was sleeping when we first got there but her mother said it was okay if we woke her up. Sleeping there, she looked so vulnerable and weak that I didn’t even want to wake her up. Once Jessica and I sat down to talk to her, Jessica started to cry which made me cry and then my other best friend started crying too. So much for being strong.
My best friend was diagnosed with germ cell cancer, a cancer that’s caused by left over germ cells from when one develops in the womb. She had two tumors, one in her back and one in her stomach. Before she was diagnosed with cancer, she had been throwing up a lot because the tumor in her stomach was so big that it kept pushing up against her stomach, causing all of her food to come back up. The tumor in her back couldn’t be removed because it was connected to some tissue so she started chemo about two months ago.
I was so scared for my best friend’s health that I even cancelled plans for my 16th birthday. When you first hear “cancer,” so many awful things come to your mind. You think they’ll be sick, bald, pale, depressed and for many people that can be the case. But for my best friend, cancer was a whole other story.
When I hung out with her for the first time after her first chemotherapy session, she looked beautiful as ever. My best friend was always beautiful but I wasn’t expecting her to look so good. It was as if she didn’t even have cancer! She had on her eyeliner and red lipstick with her black leggings and green parka. In fact, had I not known she had cancer; I would not have been able to tell. She was happy to see me and we made jokes and spoke about boys. I couldn’t believe my eyes.
The other day I was hanging out with my best friend and we spoke about her thoughts on her cancer. She mentioned, “I never went crazy over [cancer] because I went into this with the mindset that it would be over in four months so as time passed, I would just think 3 more months, one more month… until it was over to keep myself sane and from obsessing over it.” She takes thinking positive to an all-time high. Even with cancer, my best friend cares a lot about her appearance. Because of this she wouldn’t let anyone see her until she got her hair done: like really? Anyway, she also said “Some people they get cancer and they just want to walk outside bald and that’s letting cancer take over you. You can’t do that.” I really admired her attitude going into this journey. She was a lot stronger than Jessica and I were because the day after we found out, we found ourselves crying in the middle of the hallways in MCSM.
Before my best friend got cancer, I thought cancer was supposed to be such a scary and awful thing and don’t get me wrong, it still is. But seeing how my best friend handled it gave me a new perspective on cancer. She didn’t let it break her and she’s continued fighting ever since she got diagnosed. My best friend has one more chemo therapy session before she’s done with chemo and besides the side effects of it, she seems like the same best friend I’ve had since the 7th grade. My best friend’s battle against cancer gave me the strength to be strong for her and taught me to never lose hope.