Today has been a little strange, when I looked at the date this morning it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I feel like I needed to vent about it so here I am, rambling again. (wrote this on the 16th, just passed midnight by the time I finished!)
5 years ago today I sat in the kitchen of my friend’s house while her mum was in the garden and we spent all afternoon talking. We’d known each other about a year and a half at that point…but in that short time, she’d become my closest confidant, she knew more about me, how I was feeling than anyone and I did her.
I still can’t watch paranormal activity 2 without giggling to myself about her reaction to it when we saw it in the cinema. I think when you’re told you have cancer as a teenager you just want someone around you that gets it, I have incredible friends but they could never understand the change it brings, the difference in who you are, at fifteen your just finding yourself, establishing what and who you want to be and a diagnosis like cancer throws all of that in the air.
But Donna got it, we met because we had cancer, she was the first person my age with the diagnosis that I got close to, there have been so many more but she was the first. We spent time trying on wigs, dancing to music and keeping each other company at the hospital. We did normal things, cinema, meals..but we also could do the cancer stuff together, talk about treatment, complain that there wasn’t enough teenage stuff on the ward.
I remember the hardest day we had together, she refused anymore treatment and her mum had tried to talk her round, the doctors had, she was stubborn as hell when she made up her mind and she was just fed up. We spent three hours lying in her hospital bed and through tears and talking, I finally managed to get her to try, to change her mind…to keep fighting.
A few months later she found out it was terminal and I had no words, neither of us did…we discussed it only once, when she asked me to help her think about what she wanted for her funeral. It was scary, at 17, to be talking to a friend about how she wanted to be remembered, I think I was still in denial a little, I couldn’t imagine not talking to her every day. Going to my hospital appointments and not updating her on which student doctors I thought were cutest.
That day five years ago, we talked about the future, what we’d want and hope for, I knew she was getting worse, she knew…but in that moment, neither of us needed to discuss it. So instead we talked about the future, the things we’d always wanted. Alot changes in five years, I went to college, started working. One of the things that we talked about was her being an aunt, she had a gorgeous nephew, we’d hung out with him together a few times and I told her that one thing I wanted, through all my treatment, was to see my sister grow up, watch her go to prom, do her GCSE’s and most of all, have children because I knew she always wanted them. And last year my sister did that, I became an aunty.
In our last conversation she told me that whatever I did, wherever I found myself, she wanted me to make sure I was happy, that I’d come through too much not to be and I should put myself first. Somewhere along the way I lost that, that person I was then…the person that promised to never let anyone make me feel like my dreams weren’t worth fighting for. So today, I’m re-evaluating, making a new list of what my hopes and dreams are and I’m gonna follow them. Because she never got her chance to and I did, we went through so much together that when she was gone I lost the person I was when I was with her. I owe it to her and to myself to keep my promise and make sure I put me first.
She passed away three days later on the 19th April, the hardest phone call I’ve ever taken. Her favourite saying was “It’s ok to cry but it’s better to smile.” It’s one of the things that brought us together, being able to smile and laugh even when we knew how poorly she was, how poorly I’d been. The last thing we said to each other was “I love you”, she was like a sister to me at times and today more than ever it hurts that I can’t share my world with her anymore. That she’ll never get to see how far I’ve come, she’d be telling me off for giving people second chances and she’d be offering to beat up anyone that upset me. But I’m focusing on the good, remembering that actually I survived something that turned my world upside down so anything else is a walk in the park in comparison.