Below is Letty Pogrebin with her friend, who lost her hair to chemotherapy.
I have a dear friend who is battling cancer. She recently had her beautiful black hair (no gray) cut off because it was falling out in clumps. She was scared to look in the mirror.
I haven’t seen my friend without her hair, but I expect she looks beautiful. Just as Letty’s friend is beautiful. Because, when I look at my friend, I won’t see her lack of hair. I will see her love of life and family and a resolve to live. Even with horrible treatments that would test anyone’s will.
I used to think, if I had cancer, I would just let it run its course. I would not go to extraordinary lengths and live in misery for months on end, just for the possibility of a cure. I would die young and leave lots of life insurance for my family.
But I see my friend now. And my plan is not so easy anymore. I see that she needs to live for her husband, her children, her parents and, yes, us, her friends for 30+ years. My friend is fighting hard and her friends are fighting mad that this happened.
And despite the anger and despair of standing by helplessly, my friend inspires me to love life even though I am not facing an existential threat.
I look at my friend and, all of a sudden, my aging body is not a tragedy of lost youth but proof of life and my vessel into the ensuing years. If I am so lucky.
And, through my friend, I learned that my clever plan was just plain selfish. I need to live for my family, my friends and all those I love. And I need to live for me and the joys (and pain) that come with every day on this earth.
To my dear friend: You are beautiful and the power of your life force resonates hundreds of miles to me here in New York and, in possibly the most perverse twist, gives me strength when I should be shouldering some of your burden.
I love you, my friend.