I have a large extended family, but none of these family members are genetically linked to me. Instead we are linked by our hearts.
When I attended SacramentoState in the fall of 2004 as a transferring junior, I had no idea that the people working at the State Hornet newspaper would become so close to me.
Over the years, relationships strengthened, some developed and some even re-emerged. We would have family dinners on Monday nights, help each other through impossible college essays and talk about topics that we could not discuss with our actual families.
Those days were the one of the best days of my life and I know the sentiment is mutual across the board.
But I never really knew how close we were until I first let my friend (and fellow Citizen writer) Linda know about my condition. Within hours, she sent a MySpace bulletin informing everyone on our friends list about the cancer.
That Sunday my hospital room was so full of supporting friends that people coming to see me would only have to follow the noise and laughter to find my room.
Ever since March, my friends have really been my crutch, particularly since there has been some family drama. When some family members either could not handle the emotional situation or simply gave up on my chances of survival, my friends have been there with a hug and a smile.
Every month since I was diagnosed, we have once again brought around the family dinners, only at restaurants instead at the press office. Those who can not make it either send me text messages or e-mails just to check up on me.
While they do not express vocally that they know I will survive this disease, they say it with their eyes and huge, long hugs.
Some friends and I have even resolved old issues. My friend Andrew came to my house after a trip to Argentina and we talked for more than four hours. This was the longest conversation we ever had since the fall of 2004. During our talk, we apologized for the way we acted when I was Photo Editor and he was Assistant Photo Editor. We blamed all the fights on bad medication and no experience in teamwork.
Some friends even take time away from work to help drive me to and from Kaiser South Sacramento on chemotherapy days. My friend Nika drove all the way from Manteca to help me out and to also tease me with promises of her mother’s Filipino cooking.
Another friend (and fellow Citizen writer), Gama, takes time from work and basketball practice to drive me. He also suffers through my Peter Brady voice every other Tuesday (a result of chemotherapy).
Some friends also feed me, like Holly, a teacher from SacState. Only her food comes in the form of frozen, dead animals, like salmon, elk and deer. Full of protein and calories, this food (once I get a smoker) will definitely get my weight back up.
Some friends even make me cry, although they do not mean it. When I first went into the hospital, Josh, a friend since high school, sent me one of the sweetest notes I ever read. Essentially, he said I am like a sister to him and that he will always be my friend. He also gave me a rubber dart gun to use against any annoying nurse.
But I have to say my fiancé has been my best friend during these months. Besides the fact that he did not run when he heard the word “cancer,” he has been my rock to lean on. He has always been there with a hug, a kiss and a smile. He even proposed to me after I got out of the hospital and we bought a house together last month. I do not need any more evidence that we are serious and that he is truly my best friend.
I know that without any of my friends, I would not have made it this far in my treatment. But I do not have to worry about what might have been, because I have been blessed with the best friends anyone could ever have.