Thursday, September 27, 2007

Vicky, This One is For You

There is a wonderful sisterhood of women who have been touched by breast cancer in cyberspace. Discussion forums are how they meet and deep bonds are made. Friendships are formed that are somehow closer than our face-to-face friends.

I have been a visitor of discussion boards since I was first diagnosed. The women I met along the way have helped me survive more than any drug my oncologist could prescribe. The first board I belonged to was a wonderful place. I was taken under the wing by breast cancer veterans who showed me the ropes. They also taught me how to help other women who were just starting their journeys.

The brutal reality of breast cancer hits the sisterhood hard when we lose one of our sisters to the beast. I stopped counting how many we have lost. But each one touches us deeply and a ripple effect of fear and sadness spreads across the miles through every modem and out of all of our hearts.

There have been some very popular girls who were in their last days and they had a big circle of friends who were able to keep us up to date with each new detail and it is so heartbreaking to read about what was happening to both our sister who is struggling and the also pain the friend is enduring being the messenger of such sad news updates.

Sometimes, collections are taken up and flowers are sent from all over and "we" the cyber sisters, show our respect and grief.

There was a girl named Carla who I was very close to in posting and email. Carla was not a "joiner" so to speak. She was always there with an encouraging word or offering a prayer, but she was a more private person and didn't share a lot online. When Carla died, all the sisters expressed their sorrow, but it didn't go beyond that because no one really knew her that well. Except for me and Vicky. Vicky and Carla and I were all diagnosed around the same time. We flew just under the radar in cyberspace. We never had the opportunity to meet the other girls at gatherings so we were a bit on the outside. I remember when Carla died, Vicky emailed me and was upset that there wasn't more being done to honor her memory. I agreed. There were no big arrangements of flowers sent by the group. And she died in close proximity to another sister who was extremely popular and there had been quite a large expression of love sent to her family by the girls who were members of that breast cancer board.

So Vicky and I got together all of Carla's old posts and I sent them to her father. He read some at her memorial service and he was very touched to learn how many lives his daughter had touched.

Vicky said to me, "If I die, make sure I am not forgotten like they forgot about Carla."

That was three years ago.

I found out a couple of days ago that Vicky died. The breast cancer board that we had been a part of had broken up and its members are now scattered to the winds.

So I can't gather them all together for you Vicky.

But I want to honor you here. A lot of people read this blog and site.

Vicky was a NY Met fan. But was forced to become a Yankee fan because she was outnumbered in her house. Her two boys were diehard Yankee fans and so she, begrudgingly, became one too. But I can tell you now that she secretly joined me in rooting for the Mets.

Vicky worked at West Point and was honored by that institution before she had to step down because her disease was getting hard to handle while working full time.

Vicky would brave the coldest and hottest weather to be in the stands when her boys played sports. Even when she was at her sickest, she always was there to cheer them on.

Vicky always had a loving word, a prayer and a big pair of shoulders to lean on if you ever needed a friend.

Vicky was too young. Too young to be taken from this earth. Too young to be taken from her boys. Too young to have endured all she did for so long.

Vicky was my friend. She was my sister. She was gracious and loving and full of compassion. I will miss my friend.

I will never forget you Vicky.

May you rest in peace.


Anonymous said...

That is the most beautiful thing I ever read.
I have tears rolling down my face.
Bless you.

Susan V.

Anonymous said...

Gina - this is a beautiful tribute to your friend Vicky - I'm so sorry that the discussion boards you were on are no longer around and that you couldn't share Vicky's words with her family.


Jacqniel said...

What a lovely tribute to Vicky.
I really liked your spin on monies given to reserach in the last blog. May I have permission to post it on my blog? I will, of course, give you credit.
Love, Jacque

Gina Maisano said...

Of course Jacque!
I hope you are feeling better today.
I have you in my prayers.

Kathy said...

This heart warming story just reminds me of how many beautiful women we have lost to the beast. Thanks for sharing their stories.