"Melinda, when you're done you need to give Marianne a call. She called me but wouldn't tell me what was going on," the text from my husband read. "It sounded serious."
My heart kicked up in speed but I told myself it was likely nothing too crazy.
"Hey Marianne," I said when she answered my call. "What's going on?"
My hands were starting to sweat. "They found a metastatic tumor in my uterus. It's about 5cm," Marianne said, her voice struggling to hold steady. "We're driving up to MD Anderson now." "Ok," I said as I paced my studio. "Ok . . . ok."
My mind was racing through mud.
I couldn't form thoughts or think of questions to ask.
She's only 25.
Then came what little information they had from Greg, Marianne's boyfriend.
They were driving to MD Anderson in Houston, TX where Marianne would be admitted and have a number of tests done. From there a team of highly specialized doctors would create a treatment plan special for Marianne and the cancer she has.
But she's only 25.
"We'll know more when the doctors have the test results back from biopsies and blood work," Greg finished. "Ok," I said, "Ok." My arm wrapped around my middle as if I could hold my bottomed out stomach in place. "Marianne, everything is going to be alright."
That was a week ago.
As information has come in we know that Marianne is facing a full hysterectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy.
My beautiful, healthy 25 year old sister has had to come to terms with some heartbreaking realities.
This cancer is rare in women her age. There were no odd tests from her yearly regular checkups.
The tumor is unexpectedly big.
Where did it come from? Genetic? Fluke?
Still many questions.
But somethings we know for sure: nothing is going to be what we all planned. Marianne's life is taking a different path, not the road less traveled but a scary looking untraveled rout that's going to take her directions we never imagined.
We've all cried together.
My other sister, Emma, and I have cried saying we would gladly trade places with her.
"I'm so angry," Emma said, emotion filling her voice. "Why her? Why my beautiful, perfect sister. Why did cancer have to get her. This happens to other people's sister but not mine . . . not Marianne."
Not my sister . . .
Not the one who was there for the birth of my daughter. Not the one I call when I've had a bad day. Not strong Marianne. Not the little girl who used to adventure with me in the forest. Not the artist. Not my photographer. Not my first model. Not her. Not Marianne.
I usually have words . . . even when I say I don't I usually can scrap something together that at least conveys something akin to when I feel.
But with this THIS I lack the ability to draw anything together. But I feel that I need to.
I have to write this out. I have to share it.
I can't have this muddled mess of emotion and questions and worry rattle around in my brain. These feelings of sadness, regret, pain, hesitation, guilt, and frustration need an outlet. Maybe the keyboard will pull from me what needs to be said and organize it in a way that is meaningful . . . maybe some good will come from writing all this.
Marianne has been the face of courage and determination through this whole process. "Honestly," she said. "I just want to get it started so I can get it over with." She's been honest about her emotions but remains determined to be positive.
"It looks like I'll the chemo they'll be using doesn't usually make people lose their hair, so that will be nice," She said, then laughed. "For the first time in my life I'm going to not be a child and not be working. It's gonna be like a year of 'Me Time'. I'd better learn something cool. Maybe knitting or I'll open an Etsy's shop. Something."
Marianne laughs about having cancer. We all make jokes.
We process . . . we mourn . . . we make plans for the future as something to look forward to after Marianne's year of 'Me Time.'
Why am I typing this into a blog on my business website?
Why am I putting this into the world in such a public way? . . . it feels right?
It feels right to not mourn quietly.
And it feels right to call on the goodness, the faith, the good vibes, the healing energy, the asking of miracles, the stories of hope, the unexpected messages of encouragement, and the inevitable cheering and celebrating . . . as a group.
Maybe something happens when a collection of people come together for some common good.
All I know is that I know good people.
I have photographed incredible women and men and families who have shared with me their heart-wrenching trials. Listening to you talk, seeing you be strong, and realizing that you were someone who walked through Hell and here you are:
Whole. Strong. Happy.
Good things come. Light shines in dark places. Storms clear and make way for brilliant skies. You can dance in the rain. You can walk through fire.
You've taught me this.
So I'm pulling back the curtain, just little, so others can see and witness and hope.
I'm showing you a glimpse into the soul encompassing relationship my sisters and I have. You can see Marianne has been an integral thread in the fabric of my life. She's a necessary part of so many stories and a loved player in so many lives . . . but especially mine and Emma's. Emma and I are who we are because of Marianne. Marianne is our person. Her joy is our joy. Her pain is our pain. The link that connects us is eternity deep.
I'm documenting what my sister is facing so that a year (years) from now we can look back at this and be thankful and see that this was just the path we needed to become who we we're meant to be.
P.S Marianne regularly reads my posts and blog so any of your kind words and insights, she'll see them. And I know she'll be thankful for them.
If you have tips or concerns about human trafficking happening in your area call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-373-7888. NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline, with specialists available to answer calls from anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.