First Person: My Battle with Breast Cancer and the Friend Who Helped Me Through It

Jennifer's Necklace

Yahoo Contributor Network
First Person: My Battle with Breast Cancer and the Friend Who Helped Me Through It

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First Person: My Battle with Breast Cancer and the Friend Who Helped Me Through It

To mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Yahoo News asked women who have had breast cancer or are going through treatment to write about the people in their lives who stood by them and cared for them. Here's one story.

FIRST PERSON | I met Jennifer just before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was referred to her for depression and even though I only knew her over the course of a year through our therapy sessions, she played an important role during one of the most difficult times in my life. Jennifer was warm and caring and I immediately felt at ease around her. I could talk to her about anything; things I didn't tell family or friends.

I was 28 and living in San Diego when I had cancer; my family was all back in Chicago so I felt like I was facing everything alone. I was also struggling with some personal demons then and was at an emotional breaking point. And that's where Jennifer came in. She became my emotional support when I needed it most.

Battling breast cancer should have been my foremost concern at the time, but I was also dealing with the dissolution of a 10-year relationship and felt little self-worth. What Jennifer did for me was allow me to talk about things other than cancer, daily radiation sessions, or treatment side effects like hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms.

Talking to her about everything but breast cancer was a welcome distraction. Otherwise, I might have worried too much about all the "what ifs," such as "what if I don't make it?" or "what if I can't have kids?" Contemplating the possible outcomes of having breast cancer can be overwhelming. So even though the other non-cancer things I was worried about were probably trivial in comparison, Jennifer never made me feel that way. She just listened.

It's been 10 years since I had breast cancer or last spoke to Jennifer. After finishing treatment I left San Diego to return to Chicago. I didn't keep in touch with her, but before I left she gave me a charming vintage-style antiqued-brass necklace adorned with petite pearl beads and a dainty floral heart-shaped charm. I think it was her way of showing that she genuinely cared and wished good things for me because she knew we wouldn't see each other again. That's all I have of our time together -- no photos, emails or texts -- just the necklace.

I didn't keep in touch with Jennifer, well, because she was my therapist and I'm no longer in treatment. Sometimes I wouldn't mind just one more of our talks, but maybe I don't need them anymore. Jennifer helped me realize that I do have worth. Nothing can take that away -- not breast cancer, a bad relationship or anything else. I just have to believe it for myself and I am reminded of that every time I wear the necklace.

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