formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Hero in Diva's Clothing...

My friend Cari is a clotheshorse. A serious clotheshorse. The woman has enough outfits that she could probably go more than two months without wearing the same thing twice… or even doing laundry. She turned the never-used 3rd bedroom in her house into her closet. Her closet. I, on the other hand, don’t have enough clothes to go a week without doing laundry. Well, I can, actually (and do, frequently… if it doesn’t smell, it’s good to wear, right?).

Yeah, Cari and I are different. In lots of ways. She’s lived in the same small town her whole life, now just a stone’s throw from the house she grew up in. I’ve lived in 4,567 different places. She got married at 20 to the only person she ever dated. I’ve dated more people than live in her whole town. She’s a homebody and likes to stay put. I like to go, every chance I get. She wears 4-inch heels. I wear Nikes. We’re very different. But those differences don’t matter one iota in our friendship because we’re also alike in many ways.

Though Cari is nine years younger than I am, our lives, up until a few years ago, mirrored each other’s in some very significant ways – primarily, we had babies at the same time. We also dealt with the devastating illnesses and deaths of our parents around the same time, too.

When I met her, just over a dozen years ago, her mom was sick. In fact, she’d been battling breast cancer on and off for a good portion of Cari’s life. I watched my friend deal with the gradual and permanent decline in her mother’s health, knowing she was going to lose her; knowing I was going to face the same thing with my dad a short time later. Going through that together cemented our friendship forever and though I hate how it happened, I’m eternally grateful that it happened.

Though I never met Cari’s mom, I went to her funeral. I heard about what a remarkable, strong woman she was; how she’d fought that horrible illness with everything she had. And though I never met her, I know beyond all doubt just how strong she was, because I see her strength every day in her daughter.

After losing several of the women in family to breast and ovarian cancer, Cari decided to have the controversial cancer gene-testing done. She’d had a baby by then – a baby boy named Nathan (after her mother, Natalie), who was born just 8 weeks after Ryan – and she wanted to do whatever she could to make sure she would be here for him. Cari knew the outcome of the testing before she even got the results – she knew in her heart she would test positive. And she did… for the BRCA1 gene. She also knew that carrying the gene increased her chances of getting breast cancer by 75%. So after much soul-searching, she stepped up and began a course of preventative treatments that would forever change and be a part of her life; that would alter her body and her chemical make-up; that would prevent her from having any other children; that would frustrate her and scare her; and that would hopefully let her live without the diagnosis that ended the lives of too many of the women in her family.

I’ve watched Cari face so many fears. When she was pregnant, she was terrified she’d have a little girl and pass on the breast cancer legacy. Knowing everyone in her family had been diagnosed around age 30, she traveled through the first part of her 30’s always looking over her shoulder. She’s had tests and scares and surgeries that have made her question everything, including her own sanity. In the last year, she’s had to deal with her little boy’s diagnosis of juvenile diabetes. But always – always – she has faced everything with grace and courage… and in 4-inch heels.

We used to take long weekends together and, because Cari was afraid to fly, I used to go to her. The year my marriage ended, I couldn’t take the trip but she hemmed and hawed about coming down to me because she was scared. I told her I couldn’t understand how she could go through everything she did, and with such frequency, and yet still be afraid to fly – something millions of people do every day. When she looked at it that way, she realized I was right. And a couple of months later, after she faced yet another fear, I picked her up at the Charlotte airport for a long weekend of… you guessed it… shopping!

Cari is my hero. My hero in diva’s clothing. She is more like my sister than my friend and I love her. I am a better person for knowing her. And I hope that with the cancer research being done, and because of her tremendous courage and willingness to face what terrifies her, I’ll know her for the rest of my life.

I also hope you’ll click on the link to my 3-Day Event Donation Page and give what you can to the cause. And if you can’t donate, I hope you’ll pass on the link to my new Pink Page blog or my donation page to everyone you know. This horrible disease touches us all in some way, small or great. But it doesn’t have to. So let’s make it stop.

Cari and Nate.

30 comments:

Rachel Cotterill said...

What an amazing friend! And yes, you're totally right, she shouldn't be scared of flying.

Cari said...

I'm so humbled by what you wrote! I really don't know what to say, I'm speechless and we know that doesn't happen to me often! You know our friendship means so much to me, we've been through so much together and we WILL have 50+ more years of it!

Cari said...

Darn I wanted to have the response post and someone beat me when I was writing this LOL

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Diane, to know Cari through your wonderful writing is an honour. Friends and family like Cari are 'to treasure'! In that pic of mother and son they are so alike, and gorgeous! Bless you all and good luck for 50 and more years of sister-friendship ahead! xxx

blognut said...

Awesome post - Cari's lucky to have a friend like you.

Jane! said...

Has anyone ever mentioned that you two look alike?
She is in such a scary position. That must be very hard.
I hope you two are friends for a very, very long time.

Heather said...

She sounds like an amazing mother and friend, as well as an overall good person (and shopping friend!) It's so special when you find people that you can be life-long friends with that also encourage you to be your best self. Sounds like she's quite the inspiration. :)
Thanks for sharing her story with us.

mo.stoneskin said...

Cari is a star and an inspiration. And that post was bautifully written.

Sometimes Sophia said...

Brave lady... sounds like a great friend - as you are to her. I'm so glad you are going to do the walk.

Protege said...

Diane, your friend Cari sounds like a very strong and courageous woman. And she is lucky to have a friend like you.
I think you are the one with a book to write.;)

jill said...

what an incredible tribute to an obviously incredible friend. i'm glad you two have each...and that you are both smart enough to cherish it.

Stu Pidasso said...

Of course you and Ryan can jin up with us. We are going to start in at the Boy Scout Ranch in the Fort Davis Mountains. There is a rock formation there called Needle Rock. It sits not far from a natural swimming hole called "The Notch". Then we will travel and stay at the natural spring fed Balmorhea State Park Swimming Pool. From there we head to San Angelo where will give the river swing a good sampling. Next is the South Llano State Park on the Coloado River in Junction. A day of fishing and tubing should help all sleep well that night. Then on to San Antonio where we will spend another day tubing (and then do some shopping at the outlet stores). North up to Austin area where we will jump off the bridge in Llano (you've seen the pictures), jump off the cliffs at Devil's Watehole, and then do the zip lines in Cypress Creek Canyons. Southeast to Bastrop for a day at the lake with canoes and fishing. A few more stops heading southeast towards Houston. Some plans ned to be finalized, but I'll keep you posted if you are really interested. Ryan will be the youngest there (by four years) but that can be handled (I don't want her to feel left out of anything by the four teenagers), but it will be a water based vacation and she will probably dig it immensly!!

HLiza said...

She's a beautiful soul. Breast cancer is an ugly disease..I wish her all the best and you too with that donation.

Ronda's Rants said...

I am afraid to fly too! Terrified actually...I do it but it isn't pretty! I once had to walk across a tarmac and get on a small jet to fly home from Canada...the pilot saw me standing there...thinking! he sent the flight attendant to ask what I was thinking...I sent her back with...I think I am going to become a Canadian! He promised I would be safe and I was...if only we women could be given the same assurance against this disease!
She is lovely and very brave!

sherri said...

What a brave soul your friend is. I'm glad she has you.

And how inspirational for all of us, going through much less.

I love your heartfelt writings Diane.

I love your heart.

Lee said...

I read about these people and can only shake my head in amazement.

Sam_I_am said...

Many of the women in Fiance's family have (or are) battled breast cancer. It terrifies me to have a girl, but I hope ther are more leaps and bounds by then to safegaurd against it.

theoddduckling said...

You two are very lucky to have each other. My family (on both sides) has many cases of breast cancer so I do have a good deal of fear in the back of my head of passing the gene on.

Jenners said...

What a beautiful story of your friendship and an inspiring one. I hope that all her work keeps her healthy and with you and her family for a long long time to come.

And I'll be donating to your cause in a day or two ... have to wait until the "credit card" breaks or my husband will throw a fit!

And I'll be linking to this post and your donation page within a week or so.

San Diego Momma said...

Thanks for posting this. My mom passed away from breast cancer at 56 and it's always top of mind.

Cari is an inspiration! (I'm afraid to fly, too.)

And I love your stories.

Michelle said...

Hi Diane,
This post touched my heart!! It is so amazing to have a friend like that isn't it???

Your lucky!! So is Cari!! She is a beautiful woman and a brave person!!!

Thank you for sharing her story!!!

I will definitely donate to your cause!!!

M

hebba said...

What a beautiful and touching post. I'm going over to visit your donation page. Good luck with the training!

Julie said...

What a beautiful post. You two are lucky to have each other.

lisa said...

just sent in my donation.

Blarney said...

This is great. Have you spoken all these words to her ~ I bet she'd love to hear them.

Missy said...

Made a small donation! Good luck! Really, you are an inspiration! To have a friend like you...

Namine said...

very nicely written. you have a great friend

Anonymous said...

How cruelly these tiny fingers grip my heart.

Hugh G. White III
1928-2002

LMN said...

I have tingles. Kudos to your friend, and anyone who ever faces cancer, for the bravery and grace that shine through.

Thanks for your post.

Mel said...

Cari's awesome. I'm glad she decided to fly, otherwise I might never have met her! You're awesome too for doing this in her honor. Donation to come...