I have been friends with Erica since college at Ball State University. We lived across the hall from each other in the dorms our freshman year.
When I heard that Erica had cancer in April 2014, I was shocked. I remember the first time she had cancer, in November 2012, it seemed like it was treated and over with quickly. The second time she was diagnosed, I couldn't believe that this could happen to someone so close to me, especially multiple times. My friend. It didn't seem fair. We are the same age, and for her to be fighting cancer again...it felt cruel. I went with her to her appointment with the gynecologic oncologist after she was diagnosed with a recurrence, I remember when we left the doctors office that day. The first thing we did after the appointment was go to a wig store. We found out two of the chemotherapies she would be getting would cause hair loss and we wanted to have a plan- she was going to be getting married soon afterall! Erica said from the beginning that wigs were not for her so we looked at all of the scarves they had and we went and had a drink.
I supported her in the only way I knew how, I listened. I made sure to ask questions. I attended multiple all day chemo sessions where we watched Netflix series and binge ate our favorite foods. Really, the most difficult thing for me was seeing my friend suffer. Chemo is rough!
One thing in particular I remember her was her bachelorette party, she was in bed by 8 o'clock. The cancer treatment and plans were already taking a toll on her body. That definitely is not the Erica I spent time with in college!
Watching Erica go through treatment, also brought back memories of my dad's fight and ultimate loss to his battle with cancer. His was quick and short lived- but its an awful disease that takes so much from the people who are diagnosed and their loved ones.
I think the biggest way others can help someone with a cancer diagnosis is to be there- chemo treatments can be long and exhausting and sometimes involve extensive hospital stays. Be prepared to ask the questions your loved one may not think of and just make sure your loved one knows how much you care. Let them know that you'll always be there for them.
Throughout the ongoing battle with cancer, I have learned that Erica is stronger than anyone I know. She has so much resolve and so much passion in her desire to share her wealth of knowledge and support about cervical cancer. I learned that my friend has a beautifully round bald head and she was one of the most gorgeous brides I have ever seen. I've learned that time is short and memories are precious and that JR has an amazing wife, Wylee has an incredible mother and I have a beautiful strong-willed best friend. I cannot imagine how boring many evenings of my life would be without her.