By: Carolina Pichardo
It was a little difficult to write this year’s final post for “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” We wanted it to be informational, but also personal. Because after all, breast cancer affected me also.
A couple of years ago, a good friend of mine—Analia Chrismas—was diagnosed with breast cancer.
This was years after doctors found a lump in her breast, conducted surgery to remove it, and announced that it was completely gone.
I remember thinking, “Phew! That was a close one.”
But a couple of years after all that celebration, I received a quick wake-up e-mail. Unfortunately, doctors had found something else and after several tests – she had cancer.
I was so confused. What happened between that lump and the actual cancer cells? Why didn’t they detect this before? I couldn’t help but feel helpless and uninformed. To this day I know very little about the type of cancer that she had.
I didn’t know who to ask, where to look. Most importantly, however, I didn’t know how would I tell my daughter, Lyanna.
As a working mother, I had built my life around a strong network of friends and Analia was one of the strongest links there. She would watch my daughter when I brought her into the office, go on walks with us, and even joined us for our mini-road trip to Providence, Rhode Island (when no one else did).
Although she was sick for a while, I waited to tell Lyanna when the chemotherapy kicked-in. By then, Analia had shaved her hair off. On that particular day, we were meeting her for a walk in Central Park. I remember explaining to Lyanna that Analia looked a little different, that it’s no big deal, but to feel free to ask her (or me) anything.
She nodded her head and agreed, and then simply kept telling me about everything that she wanted to tell her.
I could have told Lyanna anything about Analia: that she had turned purple, her face was full of warts, or that she had this awkward bump on her back.
She wouldn’t have cared one bit. She was going to be in her favorite park with one of her favorite people, and her life was complete with just that.
Lyanna tiptoed a little to catch a glimpse of her, but couldn’t find her: “Where is she?”
Analia was sitting on the park benches with the biggest smile on her face and her bald head esposed.
I looked down at Lyanna, who quickly hugged her best friend tightly and then went on to tell her about her day, life and latest drama. Analia listened attentively, which is what she did best.
That was a couple of years ago, but I still remember every detail. Analia was able to fight her cancer, I still have my strong link and Lyanna (wholeheartedly) believes that her best friend could beat anything.