Being With a Friend, 100%
So I’m back writing about my dear friend Viki. You know, the one with the Stage IV cancer. Well, as I write today, she is once again under the knife. This time, though, it’s elective. And I, for the record, was against it.
It was a big decision for her. In the end, she did her due diligence – a second opinion from a top doc on this kind of surgery, tons of questions for her own doctors, talks with four other women who’d had the same surgery, a lot of soul-searching. She knows what she’s getting into. Even if all goes as planned, it will be a grueling 15-hour operation with that could take her as much as six months to recover from. And then there will be two or three follow-up operations over the next two to three years.
“Are you with me?”
That’s what she asked me — quite assertively — when we spoke yesterday morning. “Of course,” I responded, with a lump in my throat. She asked again, more insistently but more softly. “Are you with me? Are you really with me?”
This time, the answer was certain: “Yes.”
I couldn’t lie, I told her. I wished her decision had been different. Things are going better for her than anyone ever expected, she’s in a less-demanding treatment phase, and I just wanted her brain, her body and her family to have a break for a while.
What I want is for Viki to be as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Sure, I’ve understood why she wants the operation, but I’ve just never thought it was worth the physical toll it would take on her, especially given all she’s been through over the past two years. When the topic was still open for discussion, I registered my opinion. I challenged her with thought-provoking questions. I didn’t let her off easy, and she appreciated that. But I’ve always known, it’s not my call. My call, as her friend, is in how I respond once she has made hers.
And now that she’s made this choice — one that she feels will make a huge difference in what she plans to be her long life ahead — I’m with her. All the way.
What have you experienced when asked to support a friend whose decision you wish had been different?