You Are My Best Friend. Here’s What That Means.
This is the letter that Aaryn wished her best friend had written to her after she was diagnosed with stage IV Lymphoma.
I know! I really do know! You are fatigued and weak! It’s all in your look!!!! You are NOT the “strong, inspiring, brave, fighting hero capable of anything you put your mind to” like everyone keeps posting on FB.
I know you terrified and angry, and also really annoyed.
I looked up that new stuff you’re taking. Do not despair! Okay, while 80 mg/day of prednisone is over the top, it is serving a valuable purpose in helping shrink the bad cells. It’s what’s causing the puffy cheeks. Keep drinking water, all day, every day!
Yes, I’m sure about the cruise. There is no way I’m going. You started chemo on my 18th birthday; you will be in the hospital on your 18th birthday. I realize we live 1,500 miles apart now, but we have been besties since age 3.
I am postponing the senior girls trip, and when it’s rescheduled, you’re coming with us.
Aaryn, how could I enjoy myself knowing you are lonely and suffering? I love you. Period. It broke my heart to learn you are in a wheelchair because you are so short of breath and because of the neuropathy caused by the chemotherapies; It broke my heart when you shared photos of the linens you go through overnight because of the night sweats; it broke my heart that you had to shave your beautiful, long hair. And now you’ve lost your eyebrows and eyelashes, too! A cruise? Post photos of myself with my posse as we are celebrating and showing off deep, dark tans while you are doing stage IV lymphoma? Nope, not this girl. I’m not going to “tell you.” I’m going to “show you.”
I really do not blame you for wanting to go back to RWU the second this nightmare ends. You graduated high school a year early and deserve to be on campus!!! This is a DRAG!!! Yes, your mom told my mom that it would mean you have to travel from Rhode Island to DC every month for appointments. And your mom is very worried because of the nerve damage in your legs and feet. I guess she has a point…sending you back to Rhode Island when you’re not mobile would cause any parent stress.
Ovarian failure because of the chemotherapies? What? Dear God! Of course, I’ll look up that patch thing and IUD and see what they are talking about. I wouldn’t worry about the boyfriend thing though.
If you meet someone who doesn’t want to be with you because you can’t “have children” after going through this nightmare, I’d say you have all the information you need!!! Next!!!!
There are many ways to start a family, so I wouldn’t be too pressed. The patch and IUD sounds like a pain though. I’ll let you know what I find.
I really cannot believe that in addition to oncology and radiology appointments, you have to see a cardiology team and pulmonology team and gynecology team for the rest of your life because of the chemo !!!! And I really, really cannot believe you have to repeat all your childhood vaccinations!!! Geez!!!!! And physical therapy to learn to walk again!!!
One thing is FOR SURE: YOU DESERVE ALL THOSE SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS YOU’RE GOING TO GET ON CAMPUS!!!!! Oh, yes!! Extra time for this; modified that; blah, blah, blah! Oh, and early registration every semester is fantastic!!! YES! First pick of classes and professors!!!!! Goooooooo Aarynnnnnnn!!!!!!
I love your next chapter, Aaryn. I believe you will stand on a stage as a speaker at the Relay for Life. I believe you will be surrounded by children and you will share your story with them. Aaryn, before I go, I must tell you something. You are my strong, brave, inspiring, fighting hero who is capable of everything you put your mind to. I love you so very much.
Aaryn Zimmerman is a third year Biology major with an emphasis in Pre-Med at Roger Williams University (RWU) in Bristol, Rhode Island. She plans to pursue a career in pediatric oncology upon graduating and attending medical school to become an oncologist. She says her main source of inspiration is her personal story of beating cancer. She uses the strength from beating the disease to push herself to succeed in school. Aaryn is also inspired by her mother and doctor.
Aaryn says, “My mother is the strongest and wisest person I know, and inspires me to always improve and better myself. My doctor’s use of science and medicine to cure me has inspired me to become an oncologist.”
Outside of the classroom, Aaryn volunteers for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and serves as the chair for Team Development in the Club Colleges Against Cancer at her University. She uses her personal story to touch lives and raise funds for both organizations. The one piece of advice Aaryn has for her readers is, NEVER give up, no matter how hard life gets or how hopeless the situation may seem. If you fall down, stand back up. If you fail, try again. If you’re going through something hard, keep going.”
Aaryn won Honorable Mention in the 2016 Andre Sobel Award.