Natalie has always been a party animal and burns her candle at both ends. She never holds down jobs for very long, has the worst possible taste in men – usually picking the violent, abusive types – and when it all gets too much hits a brick wall hard and her life comes crashing down. She suffers badly with depression up to the point she sometimes never leaves the apartment for a couple of months at a time and I am the only person she will talk to except for the odd occasion her mother will phone.
She once told me she stood on a subway platform for two hours contemplating jumping in front of the next train. The only reason she didn’t was because she didn’t want to traumatise the passengers on the platform.
So, five years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Like the typical person she is she didn’t catch it early and basically ignored the early signs. She had to have radiation and chemotherapy treatment and was told she had to have a mastectomy. She refused the operation but instead had the treatments and a shit load of drugs.
I thought I had seen her at her worst during her bad depressive episodes but they were nothing to how she was during her treatment. She was tired all the time, depressed and had no enthusiasm for anything – and who can blame her? Before the cancer, she used to have plans for the future even if they were usually unachievable. There were things she wanted to do and places that she wanted to visit. After her diagnosis all those plans and dreams just disappeared to be replaced by a heavy gloom.
She lost all her self-worth and one day told me that there was little point in life if something can just happen one day that wrecks your life and throws any plans you might have out of the window. She got into a pothole of depression and sadness from which she just couldn’t emerge. She floated along just sitting around the apartment all day not really doing much.
However, slowly she started kicking cancer’s ass. She started climbing out of the deep hole she had spent the last few years in and now is starting to think about plans for the future. She has been given the all-clear from cancer and seems to be thinking long and hard about what she wants to do with the rest of her life. She has worked with kids in the past in day-care centres and even as a teaching assistant and is now talking about training to become a paediatric nurse.
Next week she will probably have a completely different plan. Or maybe even no plans at all after spending the weekend on a bender with friends.
I don’t really care.
It is just nice to have my old mate back!