I have a twin, by another mother, and father. She’s 5 years older than me and happens to be Nicaraguan-Chinese. Confused? Don’t be.
Lizette and I met over 10 years ago at a TGI Fridays in the Financial District. It should be noted that I am not a fan of chain restaurants, I went because social butterfly trumps foodie.
Amy had just started working at my company and invited me to join her while she met a friend of a friend. He thought they’d get along. He was right. Over a plate of wings and a few beers, we all became steadfast friends.
Why are we twins?
Well, Lizette and I were chatting about how much we love our birthdays and celebrating them. So Amy asked when her birthday was… “May” was her response. May what?… “May 28th!”. I jumped in -” Wait? what?!? That’s my birthday!”. Amy started laughing and Lizette proclaimed us twins and best friends.
Life’s ironic like that.
Over the course of the last 10 years, we’ve shared so many adventures, laughter, tears, career successes, hangovers, and the occasional disagreement.
We shared our 25/30 birthday parties, dated stupid boys, wore insane Halloween costumes, I witnessed her fall in love, she helped me pick out paint colors for my apartment, I was a bridesmaid at her wedding, she hosted my NYC marathon breakfast, I got the liquor from her bar when she and the hubby moved to Hawaii. All that to say we’ve been through a lot together.
It’d been a couple of months since we’d talked when I called to wish her a happy birthday. She didn’t pick up. A few days later she returned my call. “So what did you do for your birthday? How are you?” I asked.
I have cancer came her reply. Breast cancer.
My world stopped. Shit. Two years ago her mom had passed away from stomach cancer.
Life’s a bitch like that.
I listened to her tell the story of the last few months and how on the eve of her 39th birthday, she was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer. She explained how she was waiting on genetic tests that would decide her course of treatment, she still wanted to have kids, that old clock was ticking on…
10 days later, when the results came in she didn’t dwell on the bad and kicked off her action plan: a double mastectomy.
“Great, you’re going to have the best boobs of us all!”
Her response was classic: “and at a discount since they’re partly covered by health insurance. ” We then went on to discuss what size and the nipple or no nipple options. There was laughter and more off-color jokes on my behalf. It felt good to talk.
July 23rd would be the big day.
I wanted to do something for her that would leave a better lasting memory than her surgery. Granted, new boobs would be an everyday reminder.
In one of our chats she mentioned how she missed NYC and the cancer had put a damper on a long overdue vacation that her and the hubby had hoped would be this year… and that’s when I knew…
The concept was simple. Pool resources and instead of people sending flowers we’d put those funds towards a travel gift card. Let her recovery take flight.
I reached out to our network of friends as well as her & the hubby’s family and I must admit the response was overwhelming. I had fun creating the look of the package and it made me smile every time I imagined what her reaction would be once she opened her “recovery care package”.
The package arrived on Friday as they were getting home from the hospital. The operartion was said to be success. They said the same about their gift.
Life can be good like that.