Grace McCrea & Emily Outhit- A friendship story
Hello LLSC Blog
We are Grace and Emily, and we are from Nova Scotia! We would love to share our story of friendship and diagnosis of Hodgkin's Lymphoma amidst the isolating realities of Covid-19.
Grace: Many young adults don't tend to go through cancer treatment. Cancer is weird in the sense that you have so many people around you and there is so much love and support, yet it can feel so isolating. Your friends and family don't understand what you’re going through and at a time in your life when you're supposed to be figuring out who you are, you're instead fighting for your life. It is weird how something so dark, so horrible can bring people together, and that's what happened with Emily and me; she understood what I went through when no one else did, and I understood what she went through.
One day, just before I had finished treatment, I got a call from my dad. He told me a daughter of one of his work colleagues was just diagnosed with the same blood cancer I was being treated for. My initial reaction was to feel sad for her, but at the same time, I also knew I could help. I learned firsthand what she was feeling and what she was about to experience, so when my dad asked if I'd be willing to talk to her, I said yes, absolutely. I thought, at least she can have someone who will understand, someone who knows what it's like.
We talked about everything, and although our stories may have started a little differently, we were on parallel paths. We were about the same age, receiving the same ABVD chemotherapy treatment, and both at the same hospital. At our initial meeting, I advised telling Emily to visit Devrea, a fantastic cancer wig specialist who helped my hair journey. We also discussed bigger life, such as the option to freeze eggs and fertility treatment options.
Emily: When I was first diagnosed, I didn't know what to expect or how to react and neither did my family. My family is incredible, and I was reminded of that in so many ways throughout my cancer journey. But, in the beginning, I remember wanting to keep my diagnosis to just my close circle of friends and family. When my dad told me he had reached out to a family going through a similar situation, I was initially very unsure. Still, I decided to meet them and see how it went. Today, I am grateful that my father reached out because it created a fantastic friendship.
From the moment I stepped through Grace's front door and was greeted by such amazing energy and kindness from Grace and her mother, I knew that I was given an amazing opportunity to not only gain insight from the hardships I was going to endure throughout the 12 rounds of chemotherapy but to gain a confidant and friend for this unique situation. The friendship that arose in such an isolating time, in the middle of the pandemic, was critical to my mental health and well-being throughout my treatment and my continued mental health well-being today. I constantly texted Grace with questions, and she was always there with answers and encouragement. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, throughout treatments, we had to be alone in the chair.
Grace gave me great tips on how to keep myself occupied through the long hours in the chair, like which Netflix shows she recommended binging. Grace also introduced me to the beautiful world of Light The Night. Being a part of her team, Gracious Hearts, helped me in so many ways; it made me feel like I could help others, make a difference, and have a sense of a real community. I often reflect on how life brings negatives and positives, the pandemic happening and being diagnosed. On the other hand, these negatives allowed me to meet someone who understands exactly what I went through and allowed me to do online courses and continue school throughout treatment. Our friendship is extraordinary, we are connected uniquely, but I feel more than anything that this connection will always feel as though we are rooting for each other, supporting each other, and genuinely hoping the other achieves everything they aspire and dream of in this life.
I know mental health throughout treatment and afterwards is crucial to Grace and me. We have often discussed how important our shared experience is for healing and growth. I want to leave you all with saying that if you are going through treatment or a family member of someone who is going through treatment, use any resource you can to find some sort of community. Reach out to people and step out of your comfort zone like I did because it can be so beneficial. Grace and I will always be open to helping others, chatting with people, and just knowing that we are always rooting for those going through what we did.
Thank you for reading our blog; we hope it reaches those who need it.
P.s thanks, dad and dad, you guys rock.