Tuesday, June 12, 2007


There are a few times in life where you know you are in the presence of something magical. If you're into the "big JC", you may think of it as feeling God or whatever. For me, it's that moment when you look around you and feel something bigger than yourself. You are blessed to have those moments. It is something so special, it should be treasured.

For me, one of the blessings I have found through this process is the ya-yas. For those of you who don't know, the ya-yas are the women in one of my cancer support groups. This very unusual group of amazing women have been meeting every week for years... some of them 10 years. That's right. Every week for ten years. I have been with them almost a year now. I have spent more time with the ya-yas than I have with my friends and family.

I know some young women with breast cancer do not like traditional support groups. "Those old ladies have nothing in common with me, " they say. Well, I couldn't disagree more. I am the youngest in the group... by more than a few years. I am the only one "of my generation" so to speak. And I know they think I'm crazy and they love to hear stories of pole dancing and all the other crazy things "kids today" may do. From them, I learn about the good doctors or where to get great cakes intown. That's just the beginning.

I'm not quite sure how they realize how much they've given me. Every Thursday, I learn from their experience, soak up their wisdom and bask in their support. They make me laugh and cry. They tell me stories that make me feel better. Sometimes they make even me blush. It gives me such hope to see these beautiful, talented women who have faced the beast and are years out. It makes me feel lucky that they still care enough to share their journey with others.

This is the one appointment I have every week and will do everything I can NOT to miss. It's become such a part of my life here. My friends will call my cell at 1pm on a Thursday, leaving a message like, "I know you're at the ya-yas, call me, etc. etc."

When I describe the ya-yas to my young women's group, it is almost with this sense of mysticism. Like the ya-yas are some fabled great goal that we could all aspire to. "Every week?" they ask. Every week. Sure, some miss and some fall away for a while, but they are always a part of the group. "Even people who haven't been in treatment for a long time?" Those are some of the most valued.

At my first meeting ever, I saw firsthand how rare this sisterhood was. I was amazed that someone had a doctor's appointment and a half dozen people volunteered to take them or call the nurse or crack some skulls. When I walked for the 3day, some ya-yas were there at the finish line. When Candy died, I got a phone call Friday morning saying, "We just wanted to be together." So these women took off work, drove from far away, dropped everything to share with each other. I spent all Friday afternoon talking, sharing stories, drinking wine.

This weekend, I spent time with some ya-yas and we dedicated a garden to Candy at one member's house. And we laughed and gossiped and caused all sorts of trouble on a lake. There was a boat. And a scene. Long story.

It was time like this where I look around at the faces of these women. Women who have seen more than their share of pain, but smile nonetheless. You can't help but feel blessed to be in their presence. In this age of emails and text messages, the power of human contact is stronger than ever. When people grow more cynical , it is even more rare to be a part of something so unconditionally generous. These women truly love one another. A love and a friendship that I don't really see very often. Just being in the room with them, I know that I am a part of something that most people don't have. A community that is so good to me.

This group of women is an example to me of how to live my life. How to love more willingly and how to listen better. How to worry about me a little less and others a little more. How to laugh. How a hug actually can make it better. How cancer doesn't go away when the treatment is over. But it doesn't have to be everything, either.

I am truly blessed.


Anonymous said...

Courtney - we don't know each other at all, but I feel such a connection to you. I love your words so very much. You put things into perspective in a way that is so amazing. I, too, understand what you mean with your connection to the Ya-Ya's. I have the same connection to "My Sisters." We are all different ages, different races, different backgrounds with that ONE similarity - Breast Cancer has crept into our lives somewhere on the road.
LOL- I find myself checking your blog as if I am tuning in to my favorite show. I want to meet you one day in person!I know it will eventually happen.

Anonymous said...

Wow - these women sound absolutely amazing. It actually makes me want my own ya-ya group even though that group united for a life-threatening reason. As someone who believes deeply in the bonds of female friendship, I'm moved by how phenomenal these ladies are. AJ