A few months back my Shishter (not to be confused with my S-I-S-T-E-R) and I were discussing her budding relationship with this handsome feller who had wandered into her life.

My Shishter is 34, never married, quite beautiful, and has always sort of pooh poohed the idea of love. She could’ve probably been married as many times as Tammy Wynette by now, had she wanted to.  She’s always been very picky and would write somebody off if they didn’t possess a quality she wanted in a man or if there was something she didn’t quite like, never looking back or second guessing her decision to dump or compromising her standards.

I’ve always admired her un-clingyness to men and that she wouldn’t go out with one because she “needed” one. She’s very independent, self-sufficient and totally comfortable with herself to not need a guy in her world.

She had met The Fireman, who had been married previously and has three children, two of whom are young adults who still live at home and another one that’s about 5. 

She was telling me of a situation where plans had changed, with the Fireman,  at the last moment, as things have a tendency to do when one is a parent. She wasn’t much crazy about it at all and said something like she didn’t know if she wanted to do this because she liked her “nice, quiet, no drama” sort of life. 

Being the wise old grandmother I am, I said to her “Shishter…you have been pretty fortunate in your life to not have anything really rock your world. You do realize that tomorrow your world could be turned upside down by something totally out of your control, don’t you? You could go home and find your house totally burned to the ground with every possession you own gone or you could get a frightening, life-changing diagnosis.”  I went on and on with my sermon,  because after all, I’ve been through the illnesses and deaths of both of my parents, lived through my 16-year-old daughter telling me she was pregnant, a divorce, blah, blah….I was beginning to sound like the Charlie Brown schoolteacher to myself even.

There was NO way I would’ve guessed that within a couple of months, what I told her was going to, like, really happen.  I was talking hypothetical. Totally. My Shishter has had it pretty good.

Last Wednesday, my dear best friend found out that she has breast cancer and probably next week will undergo a double mastectomy to be followed by chemotherapy and probably radiation. She is 34 years old with no family history. She is totally, completely in love for the first time in her life.  This is not supposed to be.  It’s not a bad dream that I’m hoping to wake up from. It’s real. And it all came down so quick.

She found her lump a week ago Wednesday. She always did regular self checks. This came up out of nowhere.

I have no doubt that my Shishter has the cojones to kick this cancer square in the arse and make it sorry it ever messed with her. She is a tenacious and stubborn girl. I have vowed to fight it right along with her, doing whatever I need or have to do. I’ve told her I will shave my head right along with her. Not that that would fix the problem but if it  makes her feel not quite so alone to deal with the loss of her hair, by golly, I can lose mine too.

Cancer, I hate you. You took my parents, my stepfather, two of my aunts, two uncles, dear friends, but you will NOT take my Shishter from me.