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Gifts Closed the Distance

by Linda Slusser

Wellness image

Marilyn (left) and author Linda Slusser

When my long-distance best friend was diagnosed with cancer, I had to find a way to support her from afar.

Even over the phone, I could tell from her voice that my best friend of 58 years was about to share bad news. But I wasn’t prepared for her matter-of-fact announcement: “I have breast cancer.”

Marilyn would be facing a lumpec­tomy, followed by three weeks of daily radiation. How could I support her when I couldn’t be there by her side?

I decided to create a morale-boosting kit and have it delivered to Marilyn’s house. Her first reaction to the mysterious box went something like this: “You said you were sending a box in the mail, but I didn’t expect it to be so big! Each wrapped package and gift bag has a note dictating when I can open it. NOT FAIR!”

Yet, as the weeks of treatment pro­ceeded, Marilyn looked forward to the little surprises I had lined up for her. She felt they sparked her curiosity and cheered her during a bleak period.

As the weeks of treatment proceeded, Marilyn looked forward to the little surprises I had lined up for her.

My kit consisted of items chosen especially for Marilyn. In addition to the directions for opening I had taped to the outside, a colorful note was tucked inside each gift to let her know she was in my thoughts.

Marilyn’s top picks among the kit’s morale boosters? “Most useful was probably the radiation cream because it was the most practical,” she says. “Probably the one I enjoyed the most was the fleece blanket. I use it every night when I sit on my living room sofa or lie down to read a book.”

Marilyn’s cancer journey is not over. But even when I can’t stand be­side my best friend, I can still wrap her in a warm fleece hug.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Linda Slusser lives in Wellington, OH.

This article was published in Coping® with Cancer magazine, September/October 2016.