Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crossing Paths

Compared to Julia, my battle with breast cancer has been very short. What I have done for seven months, she has done for over 14 years, and under much, much more difficult circumstances.

Julia was a teacher, like I used to be. She had a little girl, and then a boy, and when she was 33, she got the bad news. She still lived in her native Vietnam at the time, and a few years later, she moved with her children to the United States. Since that time, her children have excelled. Her eldest is applying to some of the best colleges in the country right now. She wants to be a cancer doctor.

For the last few weeks, Julia has been in Vietnam. She had planned to visit her family there to say goodbye. At the last minute, Julia thought herself too weak to travel and she almost cancelled her trip. Somehow, in the end, she gathered the strength for the long journey. She returns to Boston tonight.

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Tomorrow is a Herceptin day. It's also a day that I check in with my oncology team. I'm not sure what we'll talk about at that appointment, but nonetheless, it's on the calendar. So is my appointment with Dr. Fasciano so I had better plan what chips to dump on her for those 50 minutes.

Tomorrow is pretty special because Brian is coming in with me for my first appointment and then he is donating his platelets at 9am. When I'm done with my infusion, my Mom and I will wander over to the Kraft Family Blood Donor Center to see Brian and finally witness first hand what platelet donations are all about. There's something really neat about the fact that Dana-Farber will be pumping me with my life-saving drugs at the same time that they extract Brian's platelets to prepare for someone else's life-saving transfusion.

This morning I emailed Julia's husband to ask him if Julia had arrived back safely and to see if they wouldn't mind a visit from Brian and I tomorrow afternoon. I figured that this may be the last time I see Julia and I thought it would be helpful to have Brian there for the drive home. Plus, I'd love for him to meet this couple I have talked so much about.

Over email, Julia's husband explained that Julia is not doing well and that tomorrow would not be a good day for a visit. I have to take her to Dana-Farber for treatment in the morning, he explained. My heart jumped into my throat when I realized that I'll be there then, too. So tomorrow, I'll meet up with Julia in the infusion suite on Yawkey 9. When I met her back in August of 2011, I sure never expected that our paths would one day cross there.

Christopher Reeve once said, "A hero is just an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere in spite of overwhelming obstacles." I love that definition. Because that's Julia.

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For the other blog I have written about Julia, click HERE.

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