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Sisters on the Journey

by Karen Sudduth

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My friend and I sat in a cozy bistro. This lovely treat was a gift we gave ourselves following a long day of tests and scans. My friend, courageously battling inflammatory breast cancer, was getting a second opinion. And we were having a heart-to-heart about the vulnerabilities we’ve experienced as cancer survivors.

I recalled when my surgical oncologist met with me after my mastectomies. I had prepared myself for the reality of chemo, but I was not prepared for the fact that I would have to see yet another new doctor. When my surgeon explained that someone else would be administering the chemotherapy protocol, the child in me silently let out a long, loud scream. And while the scream reverberated inside, on the outside it came out a meek, helpless, “I don’t want to see another doctor.” Of course, I did go see the other doctor. And he was a compassionate, gifted, medical oncologist.

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artwork by Karen Sudduth

But that doesn’t change the bottom line. When it comes to fighting cancer, sometimes we have to go where we don’t want to go and do things we don’t want to do. So it was that day, as my friend and I sat in that bistro, we shared more than French pastries. We acknowledged our vulnerability, and we shared hope. We were two sisters on the journey, nourishing our bodies and spirits with encouragement.

Isn’t it a mercy that God gives us sisters on the journey? Sisters hold our hearts, as well as our hands. They help us find things to laugh about, and then they laugh with us. They hold the light of hope when we are too weak to hold it ourselves. The blessing of a sister on the journey, one who offers hope and love, one who understands the journey because she has been there, is an indescribable treasure. Sisters recognize the sacred gift of relationship. And life does not get any sweeter than that.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Karen Sudduth, a breast cancer survivor, is married and lives in Mississippi. Her experience with cancer opened up new directions in the visual arts and writing.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, July/August 2010.