Life with Cancer and a Little Help From My Friends

She is a friend of mind. She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order. It’s good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your mind. Toni Morrison


Ever since I was in high school, one of the greatest joys of my life is hanging out with a girlfriend. The older I get, the more I treasure those moments of just sitting together and sharing, taking turns speaking our minds and being heard. It’s the best form of therapy I’ve ever experienced.

Before my life with cancer, I had two very close women friends and several women I was friendly with (mothers of friends of my children, mostly.) After my diagnosis, I was surrounded by women and stunned by a gift of cancer I never expected – an explosion of women friends. Women I met in their professional capacity, such as Sara, my oncology therapist, and Sarah, my breast nurse navigator, are now women whose friendships I treasure. Who could have imagined when I was their patient, that there was a life with cancer that included their friendship?

Lockey Maisonneuve is a breast cancer survivor and the founder of MovingOn, a rehabilitative exercise program for breast cancer survivors. I met her when I joined her class, which was so great I took it twice. She is now a close friend and partners with me and Robin Adwar, another amazing woman, to bring seminars to cancer survivors.  We will present ” STRAIGHT TALK ABOUT BREAST CANCER SURVIVORSHIP: A discussion about the mind, body and attitude of survivorship,” on January 21st at St. Peter’s University Hospital, 254 Easton Ave., New Brunswick. Sorry for the plug, but it’s going to be a great seminar and I want you to know about it. If you are interested in attending, drop me an email.

Life with cancer also initiated my work with the women of the Pathways Women’s Cancer Teaching Project. While each of us joined to share our cancer stories with health care professionals, we share so much more with each other. I will never forget when one woman, who has a brother, said that finding “sisters” was one of cancer’s gifts to her. I have three sisters, but you can never have too many and I’m proud to say this woman is a sister of mine.

Another recently found friend has nothing to do with cancer, but we wouldn’t have rekindled our friendship without it. She and I were friends when our sons were in grammar school. We used to sit and talk during play dates, and I loved those times, but she moved away and we lost touch. Because of WWGN, I started using social media and we found each other again on LinkedIn. Now we make a real effort to get together once a week, if only for an hour (although it always ends up being longer because we can’t stop talking.) The fact that we both make the time to see each other on a regular basis is a gift in every sense of the word.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about celebrating all of the endings and beginnings of our lives. Today, I want to celebrate the beginning of each of these friendships, which mean so much to me. And I especially want to celebrate my oldest friend (since our grammar school days), who inspired this post today. Happy Birthday and thank you for walking beside me and being my friend all of these many years.

Last, but not least, are the wonderful friendships I’ve made with the readers of WWGN, and my Facebook and Twitter followers. Who could have thought that life with cancer would bring me an introduction to each and every one of you? Have you made incredible friendships with women because of your cancer? Do you agree with Toni Morrison that, “The loneliest woman in the world is the woman without a close woman friend.”

Survival > Existence,


Copyright 123RF Stock Photos


Marie Ennis-O'Connor's picture


Two wonderful posts in a row Debbie – 2012 is off to a great start at WWGN!

Debbie's picture

Thank You So Much, Marie


Thank you so much, Marie. Getting to know you through our blogs and becoming friends is a true gift. Thanks for being a friend of my mind.

Much love,



AnneMarie's picture

Absolutely beautifully,

Absolutely beautifully, Debbie!

Debbie's picture

I Have the Best Friends


Thank you and thanks for being one of the women who has enriched my life. It’s such a pleasure to have you in my life!

Survival > Existence,


Beth L. Gainer's picture


Debbie, this is a really great posting. You are so right about the importance of friendships and how wonderful they can be. I, too, count myself lucky for all the online friendships I’ve made.

Debbie's picture

Thank You


I’ve gained so much from both my in-person and on-line friendships. It’s been a true wonder of life after cancer.

Take good care of yourself and all the best in the new year!

Survival > Existence,


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