Fall 1998, Georgia Southern University Winburn Hall. As time goes on the specifics get a little hazy, but if I don’t remember anything else I remember the pink blow up chair. When she came in seems like no one else sat there it was her spot. She was the oldest and the “mama” of the group so we respected her as such. She would sometimes come in on a Saturday climb up to the cabinet to get a snack and go back to bed. And there was never a need to knock. She was known around campus as the girl with the big booty and I became known as “you know her short friend with the short haircut, yeah the bow legged one” We along with the rest of the cavalry, yes we named our little circle, were inseparable. She protected me as a mother would protect a child and in turn I loved her unconditionally as only a child could. She could do no wrong in my eyes. I was amazed at her intelligence, the way she wrote papers at 2 am while the rest of us were laughing, watching TV and jumping around on those twin size beds. She was one of the smartest women I knew, but in turn the most humble you could ever imagine. She was liked by all well except that girl who fell down the steps. But even she had to admit my friend was a force to be reckoned with. Through mean teachers, good and bad grades, kick doors, study groups, hunch punch, Sunday dinners, boyfriends, broken hearts family emergencies and those situations that the cavalry will never ever speak of, NEVER, she was always there for me. Before I knew it, I was graduating college and again she was in my corner teary eyed holding the video camera screaming my praises. She was so proud. After all we had lived thru some of the best and worst times of our lives, so we thought. So, years later when she called me as I drove thru Sandhills, a shopping center near my home, I had to stop and sit at the stop sign as she began to tell me she had something that felt like golf balls in her breast. She had braids at the time and immediately shaved them off. No, she didn’t know if she had cancer, but in true form she did things on her terms. So if it was cancer she would not let the treatment take her hair, she took it herself. Then the day came. That day I remember more vividly than I want. Was sitting at my desk working then she crossed my mind. I texted her because I knew it should be about time for her to be done with her doctor’s appointment. She texted me back. And it was what I prayed against. The one thing I never wanted to hear about someone I loved again. She had breast cancer. But she had just crossed over into the 30’s the time when you live the good life because you learned from all the mistakes you made in your 20′ right?? How could this have happened? You see, I lost my grandmother to cancer as a teenager and it hurt me to my core. Now, my friend, my confidant, my protector was sick and there was nothing I could do about it. I jumped up from my desk and quickly ran into a conference room before anyone could see the tears pour from my eyes. I could barely breathe.
The day had come for my friend to have her breast removed another brave decision she made. My friend had a very young daughter at the time; she did not want to run the risk of the cancer coming back. Seems to me she already knew that she would beat it then. In order for it to come back it would have to be gone first. She had claimed her victory and didn’t even know it. The “little sis” and I went to be by her side, with the “nephew” in tow. I ended up staying the night in the hospital, I just couldn’t leave her. It was like we were in Winburn Hall again. But then as I looked at her, the IV’s, and all the flashing lights on those monitors and I quickly realized, this is real. I had to hold back my tears. I would not break down in front of the very person who had always been so strong for me. As I reached down to pick up the wash cloth she dropped while bathing she said, “nope I got it” and proceeded to pick it up with her toes! At that moment I knew my friend would definitely make it. One simple gesture that made us laugh and forget the bandages that were in the place where her breast used to be. That night we laughed and laughed and laughed. I have no idea when we eventually drifted off to sleep.
It’s 2013 now and my friend has 3 beautiful girls. She is as bold, intelligent, daring, humble, loving and strong as ever. She is my hero. She is one of my best friends, more of a sister. My friend, my sister, my Donna is cancer free.
To God be the Glory 🙂
This post is dedicated to my friend LaDonna Peeples breast cancer survivor!
To Donna: Donna I love you more than words can say. Over the years, over the miles our hearts have stayed connected because we have built a bond that can not be broken. God put you in my life to show me how to have faith when you have no control over the situation. Because of you I still believe in miracles. You are my miracle. Love you always and forever.