A couple of years ago, the New York Times published an article about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. Especially, after getting married, having kids, and basically hitting the majority of ‘adult’ milestones.
A few years ago, I was over 40, and fit the stereotype of someone happy with all of my relationships cultivated over the years. Who needs to make new friends when you have strong social ties already? After all, I had my strong network friends and family, life was great! Then suddenly, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Just like that, I felt immediately alone. Even within my close knit community of friends and family, I didn’t feel connected in the same way. I loved everyone, and I know everyone loved and wanted to care for me, but I still felt isolated with cancer.
Like thousands of women before me, I Googled the breast cancer treatment paths I was about to embark on with my team of providers. Eventually, I found MyBCTeam, a social network for women like me. I met some of the most amazing and strong women on the site. But one woman and I especially hit it off. Her name is Kristen McCormick. We were both diagnosed around the same time, surgeries around the same time, married our high school sweethearts, both have an older son and younger daughter around the same age. Kristen lives in New York and I live in Chicago. We became instant friends — the best of friends. We were on each other’s teams on MyBCTeam. We became friends on Facebook, we called each other and texted each other. The only thing missing: we NEVER met in person. For three years, throughout our breast cancer treatments, and recovery, we talked about the possibility of meeting up, but our health issues, money and just life in general stalled our best intentions to meet face to face, until recently.
When I learned Kristen was doing the Making Strides’ breast cancer walk in Staten Island, I told my husband I would love to surprise her in person, and do the walk with her. So with the help of my husband and Kristen’s family, we made it happen. My husband and I flew to NYC. We headed straight to Kristen’s home and surprised her that evening. I can’t explain the giddiness. The sheer excitement I felt to meet the person who has helped me and who I have helped through some of life’s crazy ups and downs was overwhelming and thrilling at once.
For some, adult milestones involve getting married, buying a home, having children, etc. For me and Kristen, our paths crossed on MyBCTeam where we faced and shared breast cancer treatment milestones. We found ourselves connecting with and supporting someone who understood better than even our closest friends and family. The treatment and survivor milestones (it’s been three years since we were diagnosed!) we faced together has been indescribable. I don’t want to suggest that my friends and family didn’t play a role in helping me. Of course, they did. It was a very scary time for me and my family and with their help and the help of my other amazing friends we made it through. I have always tried to stress to my kids as bad as they think the situation was we needed to stay focused on all of the positives. While I wish my breast cancer never happened, the major positive was befriending an incredible person I would never had met if I had not been diagnosed. Thank you, Kristen. You can’t put a price on good friends that you meet and keep in life. And the friends you meet and keep through a health crisis are particularly valuable throughout a lifetime.