Chances are you’re here because someone you know or someone you care about knows someone who has cancer. This fucking sucks. When my best friend Shalin was diagnosed I was in total shock. I was in the midst of an audio session in LA when I got the news and wasn’t prepared for full on waterworks, especially on a business trip. I couldn’t keep my mouth closed due to my utter disbelief. However I did manage to consume a very large bowl of miniature candy bars in a lame attempt to cure what ailed me. Once the sugar buzz kicked in and I found comfort in my trusty laptop, I think I typed into Google “how long will someone live who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer?” or “what does invasive mean?”. After the scientific questions, I moved on to googling “what do you do when your friend just got diagnosed with breast cancer?”. Yes, I was seeking sage advice from Google. If breast cancer was the challenge, I wanted to be the best friend I could be to help her through it. I don’t have an MD after my name but I have mad research skills, and yet in all my searches I couldn’t find the answers or clarity I was looking for. There was no place to go to for the comfort, reality, levity and wisdom we both needed.
We craved a go-to resource on how the hell to deal with cancer, on every level. There was food52.com to tell us how to make a kick ass pasta salad and Trip Advisor to tell us if a hotel in Tulum allows children or not. But there wasn’t a place that could tell us how to tell your neighbors you have cancer, how much wine you can drink (or not drink), or the best strategy for going from long golden locks to rocking the Sinead O’Connor look.
Shalin was beside herself about her pending hair loss. A wig? Are you serious? She was a hair stylist and now she wasn’t going to have any hair! I certainly wasn’t going to lie to her and tell her how cute she was going to look without any hair on her head. Or sans eyebrows or lashes. Scarves, wigs, hats, sleeping caps (yeh, like the kind newborn babies wear in the hospital) become a necessary addition to the daily uniform. A few relatively hip blogs about how to tie scarves in unique ways and look good regardless of your alopecia exist, but they are few and far between. The best I could do was make myself available to watch the headshave via FaceTime and be there for Shalin.
Shalin’s cancer only deepened our already rich and vibrant friendship. A true sisterhood. After countless phone calls, puddles of tears, and severe emoji overuse, we decided that we needed to create a destination to explore and share the cancer experience from the from the point of view of a best friend. A place that would present the “best of” on how to support someone living with cancer and be the best member of their tribe. A place for connections, wellness, yummy food and recipes, sometimes inappropriate humor and living in style. A place you could dip into and come away feeling refreshed and better equipped to walk your true path with your BFF, along with cancer.
Cancer Doula is a companion guide to your cancer experience. If you’re being a best friend to someone who is sick, you are a doula. Welcome to the tribe.