Saturday, June 12, 2010

There's a Secret Sorority out there... and I never thought I would be a part of it

I remember the days when all you wanted to do was fit in with a certain group. When you saw 5 or 10 girls standing in a circle talking and laughing and then hugging good-bye you would watch as they all walked away from each other knowing that they all had something in common that you obviously didn't have. You wondered what that something was... and then you hoped that one day you would have it.

This happened in grammar school, middle school, high school and college. Sometimes it even happened at work. There were always those groups of girls and women who seemed to have a sorority going... and whether you knew it then or not, they probably felt the same way about you and your friends.

I had my own sorority of friends growing up. We were friends through grammar school, high school & college... through our first, second... and even third jobs... through marriage and kids... and we're still friends. We can still stand in a group of 5 or 10 of us and talk and laugh and hug good-bye... and I'm happy to have my sorority of friends, I love them.

22 months ago I joined another sorority. A sorority that you don't hear about often, even though the membership number is rising every day. A sorority that you don't even want to think about existing. You don't get to choose to join this sorority, you are chosen to join it. Your dues are unimaginable and exhausting but once you are in it... you are thankful for your sorority sisters.

We don't have a fun name like Alpha Sigma, or Kappa Delta and we don't stay up partying all night and our tests are most definitely a matter of life or death. Our rush weeks are different than any other sorority and our dues are much higher than others. Our main sorority's signature color is gold but we each belong to houses that have signature colors as well. My house's color is gray.

We are a sorority of Cancer Moms. We have been chosen to have children with cancer. We stay up at night and cry, we hug our kids through their pain, we worry silently (and all of the time), we know that our lives... and our families' lives and the friendships we had before... will never be the same.

When we see each other we don't have a secret handshake but we have a hug. If we can't give each other a hug because we are holding our children (or chasing after our children as the case may be so many times!) we give each other a smile. There is so much behind each hug and smile from one CM Sorority Sister to another. There's support, strength, love, prayers and an understanding that only another cancer mom can have.

We pace while our kids are in the operating room, we research a diagnosis so much that our eyes hurt but we keep reading in the hopes of actually understanding all that is about to happen, we we keep the first patch of hair that they lose, we hold them when they are in pain, we play with them when they are feeling good, we laugh with them when we want to cry, we live with Purell and hand sanitizer in every room of our homes and in every purse & diaper bag we own, we realize that 8 hours of sleep is an amazing gift and relish the few nights that we actually do get that much sleep, we put an insane amount of miles on our cars driving back and forth to the best hospital that we can find, we know that 100.4 degrees is a magic number on the thermometer and anything over that requires a visit to the hospital... no matter what time of the day or night, we have hospital bills that have balances higher than a doctor's student loans, we understand the meaning of loving our own beds... especially after a hospital stay on those lovely pull out chairs, we can go for a few days without a shower because we've been holding our kiddies in the hospital, we take lots of pictures and we know that despite the cards we have been dealt we are lucky because we have been given the gift of truly knowing that each day is so precious and should never be taken for granted.

Our sorority is one that no one wants to join and once you are in it, you would give anything in the world not to be a part of it, but I have found that if you do have to join it... you are in the company of truly amazing women.