This blog entry has been guest authored by my friend Sherri, whom I love with all my heart.  She has been by my side since my cancer journey started … understands me best since she has seen a similar road … and taps me on the shoulder when she has something to say … I appreciate her honesty and delivery because of my respect for her.  And her words today made me cry.  I love you, Sherri.  I really do.

Friends With Cancer

By Sherri

Have you ever seen Mission Impossible 3?
This is the movie where Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt character spends the bulk of the movie trying to complete the tasks the bad guy has set out or risk dying from a bomb planted in his brain.

Run, Tom, Run!

We are grateful for the help of his friends when furthering his journey. We cheer for him as he completes each seemingly impossible task. We wonder how he is going to succeed in the face of such overwhelming odds. We intimately understand his desperation.
For 125 minutes, we follow Ethan Hunt’s journey. We know our hero will prevail because that is what happens in the movies.

Lisa’s journey is similar. For 10 months, we will watch her run with a bomb in her chest.
We will cheer for her. We will hope for her.
Unlike the movie, we won’t understand her.
We won’t understand her desperation. No doctor has told us that we have a 23% chance of dying in the next 5 years.
We don’t know if she will prevail. She doesn’t know if she will prevail.
There is no clean plot line here and no clear ending.
We don’t know the places she will go, the things she will see, the things she must do.

Run, Lisa, Run

10 months. This means Lisa’s movie has a 432,000 minute run time.
Longer than it takes to read her blog.
Or to call her.
Or to sit through her chemo.
Our attention wanes. We grow bored or apathetic.
Or judgemental.
The flood of cortisol in her system does not grow bored. Every single day, fight or flight.
The flood of steroids in her system does not grow bored. Fight.
432000 minutes.

Run, Lisa, Run

Well-intentioned words from friends. “Look on the bright side”, “Keep your chin up”, “You will be fine”, “You will get through this”.
A pedicure could put her in hospital, a drink that could make the cancer return.
We didn’t know. We thought we were doing the right thing, being supportive.
Well intentioned words being drowned out by the sound of the bomb in her chest.

Run, Lisa, Run

We won’t understand the changes in her body as she wakes every day
The angry slash across her breast or down her armpit.
The numbness in her arm.
The hole in her other arm from the line running into her heart.
We don’t understand the fear of that line opening..…the nightmares of bleeding out before anyone can save her.
We don’t understand living with the anguish of losing her hair. We don’t understand the emotions associated to looking in that mirror every morning.
No eyelashes, no eyebrows.
The summers sun either burning sensitive skin or generating uncomfortable amounts of sweat.

Run, Lisa, Run

We don’t understand the emotions. We will think we do, but we don’t.
We have been told that “Someone Else” has cancer. Someone Else is scared. Someone Else might die.
That is Lisa’s name now. “Someone Else”
Not us. Someone Else
We don’t understand.

Run, Lisa, Run

From Lisa there is euphoria, giddiness and gallows humour. There is intense sadness and fear.
We are confused.
At odd times, remnants of the old Lisa surface, wishing for the simplicity of life that existed 6 months ago. To be caring for dogs, chasing men, out with friends.
Living life large.
We try to connect with old Lisa when she appears…
Then she disappears suddenly and we are again lost and confused.

Run, Lisa, Run

The blogging is an outlet, an art gallery and a dump. It is a mixture of intense creativity, sexuality and emotions that have nowhere else to go.
Like a kaleidoscope, her words are a reflection of each moment.
Some of the images she evokes are hauntingly beautiful.
Some give us a glimpse into her reality.
Some are primordial.
Some are screams of pain so loud that we don’t hear them…
We don’t understand.

Run, Lisa, Run

Finally now, there is anger. Pure, hot and raw.
The steroids are ravaging her body, pushing like an invader into her mind.
White-hot anger. Uncontrollable, directed at everything and everyone.
Memories battle the injustice of this journey.
Battling friends who love Lisa and do not recognize this stranger.
Battling against the darkness of each new assault on her body and brain.

Run, Lisa, Run

I have been asked why she is so different.
I have been asked why her behaviour can be so outrageous.
I have been asked how others can help.


Lisa is running. There is a bomb in her chest and she has to finish chemo and radiation before the bomb blows up.


Lisa can’t slow down. She can’t be the old Lisa. She can’t help us understand why a 23% death rate scares the shit out of her.
She is running.


Lisa can’t stop the hair loss. She can’t stop the anger. She can’t stop the chemo fog. She can’t stop her nerves from dying in her hands and feet.
This is what chemo does.


She can’t stop being scared, or sad, or angry. She can’t stop missing her old life. She can’t stop being afraid of leaving her son alone in this world.
She can’t help losing friends.
This is what cancer does.


Sometimes, I don’t like this new Lisa. The pain she is feeling leaks out and hurts others.
She sees our world like someone fighting for her life. She is now out of phase with us.
The fucking drugs are screwing with the person she is.

And there is a bomb in her chest that needs to be taken out.

I can take her to her chemo appointments.
I can hold her hair as she vomits.
I can hold her as she cries and listen as she lashes out in anger.
I can laugh as she takes condoms from the bowl in the waiting room.
I can be patient when she does things that are not in her best interests.

Having cancer is hard.

I can’t hear the Tick-tick-tick. I don’t live each day with that bomb in my chest.
I don’t always understand why she does some of the things she does.
But I know why she is running.
And I know I am strong enough, for the next 432000 minutes, to help her run.

I will love my friend for and through the imperfections that cancer has thrust upon her.
I will remind her of who she is and how far she has come.
I will love her when she isn’t particularly loveable.
I will be with her when she rings the chemo bell.
I will be with her through the radiation as the heat of a thousands suns seeks to silence the Tick-tick-tick.

I will be with her when she finally puts this part of her life behind her.

I don’t need to know anything else.
I just have to trust that some part of the person I loved when this journey started will be there at the end.

For 432000 minutes I have to be the kind of friend to her that I hope will be there for me someday.



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© Pink Dot Detour 2017



One thought to “Friends With Cancer”

  • oceanswater

    Thank you Sherri.

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