In her moving letter “Who Needs Pink Ribbons With a Friend Like You?”, which was excerpted in the October issue of Good Housekeeping (now on newsstands!), Alice Lesch Kelly thanks her fellow cancer-survivor friend Kate, who understood things no one else did when she was going through treatment–that it’s okay to hate all the flowers, it’s okay to want to throttle someone who says that cancer “happens for a reason,” and it’s okay to roll your eyes at pink ribbons tying themselves around everything these days…
“You were the first friend I told. You were waiting for my call. You knew about the lump, about the doctor visit, about the look of concern on my doctor’s face when he examined my breast. “It’s probably nothing, right?” I asked him. He waited just a little too long to answer. “Probably,” he finally said, drawing out the word. “I’d like to get a better look at it.” He picked up the phone, called the hospital, scheduled an ultrasound–and a biopsy, if necessary–for the next day. “He made the appointment himself?” you said. “That’s a bad sign.” Two days later, he gave me the news. “I’m sorry. It’s cancer.” During my treatment, friends and neighbors were amazing. They brought cookies, fresh-picked strawberries, ice cream, and bottles of homemade fudge sauce. They sent gifts–DVDs, books, chocolate, a silk scarf for my bald head. And they sent flowers–so many flowers. I felt guilty for hating the flowers. But they made the house smell like a funeral home. You understood that. You told me it was okay to put them all in the garage. Everyone offered to cook meals, but you managed it all. You organized an email list and figured out a schedule so that we wouldn’t end up with five dinners on one night and none the next. You reminded people to bring food in disposable containers so we wouldn’t have to worry about washing and returning stacks of casserole dishes. You even made copies of some of my family’s favorite recipes and told people who should bring what. You knew from experience that if you didn’t, everyone would make lasagna…”
ALICE LESCH KELLY is a freelance writer specializing in health and mind/body wellness. Her work has appeared in publications such as More, Woman’s Day, Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Viv, Triumph, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She has coauthored four books, including Be Happy Without Being Perfect. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts, with her husband, Dave, and two sons, Steven and Scott. Her website is www.aliceleschkelly.com.
Read Alice’s letter, and 35 others, in P.S. What I Didn’t Say: Unsent Letters to Our Female Friends, now available on Amazon!