At the root

I’m into the tough part of the book about Edwina and me. In the second section of Unlikely Sisters, where I delve into the “selves” that began to evolve long before Edwina and I ever met face to face, I explore how each of us came to be who we are now. When I first wrote about Edwina and others in the homeless community in Birmingham who are struggling with cancer, I couldn’t think of much to explain our bond. While a common diagnosis can certainly bring people together, surely it takes more to sustain a relationship.

I was thinking about that a couple of weeks ago when Ellen Zahariadis, executive director of North Central Alabama Susan G. Komen Foundation, asked me to interview a local group of twenty-something breast cancer survivors for a special insert on Komen in September’s Birmingham Magazine. We all shared a meal and I was struck not only by the way in which a diagnosis at a similar point in life brought these women together, but also by how much they had moved away from cancer as the sole defining factor in the friendship. All six of them genuinely like each other, and though cancer might have been the force that caused them to cross paths, their common interests and passions are the glue that has held them together.

Edwina and I come from different worlds in so many aspects of our lives, but we share an awful lot too. For years, we both struggled with boys and fast cars and addiction, either our own or those of a family member. We’ve each worked hard to redefine ourselves and adopted strategies, albeit not always the best ones, to handle obstacles thrust in our way. We are sisters, and not just because of breast cancer.

Recently, Edwina has been trying to drum up the money to buy a set of dentures. Her gums are healing nicely, and she is eager to have a complete, healthy mouthful of teeth for the first time in her life. Our texting was cut short when I headed to the dentist this past week for a crown and ended up being referred for a root canal. Unlike Edwina, I have the dental care and dental insurance to be treated promptly, while Edwina continues to wait. I promised her that we’ll locate the money she needs. We sisters have to stick together.


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