Woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend... Just when I thought life could not get any better I heard a knock on my door, it was Cancer.
It changed everything but not for the worse. I choose Life and Hope .
BACK OFF CANCER is what I say!

The beginning of this journey...shaving my head

The beginning of this journey...shaving my head
Me, Francesca, on April 1st 2007, the day I shaved my head....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"My friend has cancer"

May I venture to tell the tale from my side?



Francesca is "my friend" (smile) ... sounds so very casual. We talk about each other A LOT, and "my friend" is just too little of a title. It is so much more than that. Strangers that cross our path ask quite often:

"Are you sisters?"

After 15 years of parallel lives we have mastered the way to answer it - simultaneously we put on a straight face: "we are actually brothers". Puzzled faces, a good laugh is what follows, always!

And we have made each laugh, a lot! Brotherhood is a beautiful thing. Francesca and I met at room 302, in Bluche, Switzerland - FIFTEEN years ago. We were roommates. Her English was bad, mine was terrible. We dressed weirdly - she liked red lipstick, my shoes were bulky. We clicked! We were both young, from Brazil, excited about school in Switzerland.

And so we cruised through the three years program with internships in between. And before we were ready to split, graduation came and I left to Providence, RI; Francesca to China. Back than there was no email, phone was expensive and contact was rare. A letter here and there ... two years go by ... "I am moving to NY" was on one of my letters ... "I am being transferred to New York" was on my answering machine on some random day.
  • Christmas 1996 - we dined at Match Restaurant, NYC. Our English had improved (slightly), she was wearing lip gloss, I had high heels on and everything was the same! We were young and ambitious, excited about live in New York city!
And than comes the Drake, and the Waldorf, and the single life. And I lost my apartment, moved in with her. And I got a new apartment, moved two blocks away. And I met Matthes; two weeks later she meets Carsten. They are both from Germany! I moved to Germany, get married, back to New York, found a house in Jersey, got a dog, pregnant, she is engaged, Mika is born, NO MINI VAN. One week before her wedding a real state broker is placing a sign on the house across the street "for sale"; the next day he changes the sign "under contract" (okay, may be a couple of days later). And they get married, and the Giessmanns move across the street, and she gets pregnant, NO MINI VAN. There comes Leonardo, Matthes works hard on the garden, Carsten is crazy for his outdoor fire pits, the kids are best friends (their words, melts my heart). The boys go to the same day care, we take the same bus to the city, Port Authority rush hour, every day, we hate it.
  • Summer 2006. I am pregnant again, I quit my job, Francesca resigns. We enjoy being stay-at-home Moms, we go to the movies at 2pm, we watch Oprah regiously, my belly grows.
  • March 22nd, 2007. Five days before my scheduled C-Section. The phone rings, Francesca is in the hospital. What? Something in her lung? What? Everything is a blur from there on. She has pancreatitis, needs to go for a biopsy, LARGE mass in her lung. I have to go for an amino, pre ops tests for a c-section. Back to her hospital room. What is going on?
  • March 26th. Last sonogram, baby is okay, ready for birth. Back to Francesca's hospital, biopsy results are due any minute. Hours go by, the wait is killing all of us. End of the day. Someone tells us no results today. I have to go home, get ready for Malu's arrival.
THIS IS NOT HOW IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.
  • March 27th. Malu is a healthy little girl. Surgery goes well. There is a roller coaster of emotions inside me. My heart is overwhelmed. Nice to meet you Malu. News from Francesca? She says we spoke, from our hospital rooms; I don't remember. She cant wait to meet Malu; we have to wait one more day for the biopsy results.
  • March 28th. I can eat solid again food again, IV is out. I stand up for the first time after surgery, almost passed out. Something is not right, probably anxiety. Fever kicks in, antibiotics, IV back. The phone rings, my heart sinks. Tears, lots of them. The nurse brings pain killers and baby, it's feeding time. Tears, lots of them. The nurse brings a questionnaire I need to fill out: "Postpartum depression". I smile. I need to tell her: I am okay, but "my friend has cancer". I can't believe my own words. I still cant. But the good news is that its Lymphoma. The most common and most curable type of cancer. Aren't we so blessed? Funny how everything in life is so relative. We were afraid it was lung cancer. Lymphoma? Stage IV? Bring it on! She will beat it!
  • April 2nd. I am home, she is out of the hospital today. I see her car coming down the street. We meet. I have a another child, she shaved her hair. One week went by since we last saw each other, so much has happened. Our English is almost perfect by now (NOT!), she has no lip gloss, I have no shoes on. We hug - everything was the same! We are young and blessed, and no matter how many bumps there will be in the next few months; I can see us dancing the funky chicken on our 85th birthday party.
Francesca & Carsten - your strength is inspiring, your smile is contagious, your friendship is a blessing.
With much love,
Alexandra

5 comments:

ney said...

eu vivi alguns dias dessas história... e ela é linda!!! e engraçada tb!!! lembra do papagaio vomitando? hehehehehehe

Caliope said...

alexandra!! Seu inglês tá bom mesmo hein?! Vê se escreve + uns capítulos vai!.. Esse poeminha é p/ vcs duas:
"E as horas lá se vão,
loucas ou tristes...
mas é tão bom,
em meios às horas todas,
pensar em ti,
saber que tu existes!"
bjo

Angela said...

Alexandra, this is Frannie's friend Angela, she is soo incredibly blessed to have you. You two are very lucky. Congratulations on your baby and is there a MINIVAN yet?

Maria Luiza said...

Madrugada adentro...atraves da janela, em frente ao computador, vislumbro a casa da Chica..tudo apagado...ela dorme..Um vez mais, como tenho feito nos ultimos trinta dias, vou dormir tranquila..ela dorme!!!
E fico comparando a historia delas, minha filha e sua melhor amiga, com a minha de quase 50 anos.. eu tbem tenho uma amiga assim..so que, boba como e a minha amiga, nao posso revelar, ao mundo, nossa tao longa amizade.. Ela diz que, assim, vou confessar que ja passamos dos sessenta!!!
Mas, se nao posso nomina-la, posso relembrar algumas das nossas passagens: crescemos juntas. Frequentamos o mesmo grupo escolar, fomos vizinhas na in fancia, repartimos segredos e namorados..Dansamos as valsas de nossos 15 anos.. Dai, vieram, namorados, noivos e maridos. Filhos. Netos...E.. continuamos amigas... A Chica e, de coracao, a minha quinta filha.. porisso, eu sei que, diariamente, ela, a minha amiga, entra neste blog e..torce! Reza, tbem.
Nos, eu e ela, temos um sonho: fazer, velhinhas, um cruzeiro as Ilhas Gregas (sera que ja nao estamos passando do tempo???), mas, o medo de trocar as dentaduras, nos copos, ao amanhecer, nos apavora...
Por isso, me permito um conselho as duas, Chica e Ale. Quando toda esta loucura acabar, facam uma maior ainda: deixem, as criancas, com o Carsten e o Mattes e saiam, pra algum lugar, no mundo, mesmo que seja pra esquina ao lado, so pra sentar, conversar..e ri!!! Antes que, como acontece conosco, minha amiga e eu, a idade e a artrite, nao deixem mais!!

Carinhos
Mamae

Chiarapurpurina said...

Queridos Francesca,Rossella,Xanda e Maria Luiza!

Eu penso em vocês todos os dias e tenho certeza que isso tudo vai acabar logo ....so espero que o blog não acabe quando a Francesca ficar curada...ela vai ter que criar outro "bloc"!
Eu fico muito emocionada em ver o quanto as pessoas gostam das outras,o quanto elas são capazes de amar.
E fico muito contente quando existe a oportunidade de expressar esses sentimentos ,.....as relações se eternizam atravez dessas manifestações constantes de carinho e amor...e eu também vou me declarar:

Primeiro para a Francesca ,que eu amo tanto,que é minha irmã de sangue,a única ,pois eu não tive a sorte que ela e a Xanda tiveram,e não encontrei uma outra irmã..mas na verdade eu não precisava,eu ja tinha a Francesca.
Ela foi sempre a mais esperta, a mais rapida,sabia de tudo ,não tinha duvidas de nada..isso me dava uma segurança louca.....eu sempre corria para ela quando tinha medo .Isso acontece até hoje!!!

Para Maria Luiza,minha mais nova amiga,eu penso nela sempre,conto das nossas conversas,dou risadas sozinha quando lembro dos papos que tivemos tomando umas cervejinhas.Eu adorei conhecê-la....meu filho de 11 anos o Gianluca ja tinha falado que ela era muito legal e que fazia uma rabanada deliciosa!Eu não tive a chance de provar a rabanada ,mas ela entrou no meu coração!

Para Xanda...não consigo chamá-la de Alexandra...ela sempre foi muito presente no meu coração,estando perto da Francesca,ela estava perto de mim também.Uma garota muito doce,e engraçada.Agente se conecta e se parece bastante em algumas coisas bem peculiares.

E finalmente para Rossella,minha mãe,o começo de tudo.Além do que herdei naturalmente, um baú cheio de "bijus",um tesouro cheio de brilho e beleza..tudo cintila dentro desse bau,ela me ensinou a amar.Amar acima de tudo ,amar as crianças,os animais,as pessoas que precisam,simplesmente amar...existe um tesouro mais valioso que esse?
bjs para todas vocês!
Love
Chiara

Nega:Continua segurando a onda que logo vai passar e agente precisa pensar logo na tatoo que vamos fazer juntas!O Henry pediu p/ dizer que você esta linda !!!!Já vai pensando no outro bloc!
Mammy:Você me surpreendeu e me ensinou mais uma lição...ah e eu adorei o dia que passamos em Manhattan!Se um dia eu ficar bem rica,agente vai comprar tuuuddoo que gostar!!!!!!!
Xanda:Já comprou seu kit de make up?
Maria Luiza:Obrigada por olhar pela Francesca!