I have a friend. It’s not to say that I haven’t had friends before in my life, because I have. I have been blessed with many amazing friends, but this new friend is special. I met this new friend via an old friend from high school. Scratch that. She’s not an “old” friend, because if I say she is old, then I am calling myself old since we went to high school together and I refuse to believe, nor accept, that I am old because even with all this crazy stomachlessness going on, I don’t feel old. So, as I was saying, a friend from high school introduced me to a new friend.
I have never met this new friend IRL (in real life as the young people say, including my young self) and have only talked to them on Facebook. While I know virtually nothing about this new friend, it has been one of greatest new friends I have met recently. You may be asking yourself what is so special about this person and how can you like them so much if you know nothing about them? Well, thanks for asking, let me tell you. This person is the first person whom I’ve met who has had the same surgery I had to prevent stomach cancer. Why is this friendship so amazing? Because while I do have a lot of really amazing, loving, supportive people in my life, they all still have stomachs. I know that sound pretentious, or dare I even say elitist, but it means a lot to me to know someone who has gone through exactly what I am going through. It’s the same reason why there are support groups for almost any kind of issue. People want to share and discuss a common experience in a supportive group of people who have been through what they are going through. To my friends and family— literally the only people reading this blog at this point— please understand that your support means so much to me and by no means does this new friendship mean I need you less, because that is not true. There is no way to quantify how and why I need all of you in my life, but just know that it’s refreshing to know I now know someone who has this same shared life experience. This person had a similar surgery 3 years ago for a different mutation, the CDH1 mutation. The mutation, while different from my GAPPS mutation, is essentially the same in that both mutations confer a very high rate of developing gastric cancer and the only way to prevent this near fatal cancer, is to have your stomach removed.
This new friend has been the light at the end of the tunnel. The last few weeks have been rough when it comes to eating. So its been nice to hear it will get better, but I have to give it time. Like a years worth of time, but there is hope I may be able to eat “normally” again.
Unfortunately, I am not the only one in my family with this mutation, but I was the first to be diagnosed and the first to have my stomach removed. My new friend had family members who had the mutation and had had the surgery before they did, so they had someone to talk to. I had no one to talk to about this who had actually gone through it, to see how they did it, what they felt, what they tried, etc. I will fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at it, will be that person for my family members with the mutation, but at the moment, I have no one. Scratch that, I had no one.
While this blog is part therapy for me, partly a way for me to share my experience with family and friends who are not on social media (yes, those people do still exist), it is also partly a way for me to be there for other people, who may be like me, and had no one to talk to about whats going on. I am hoping I can be someone’s new friend too.