Last week I saw my friend for the first time since her diagnosis. It was a 'good' week, the week before her next bout of chemo, chemo she has once a month.
With a stylish scarf, pretty manicure and naughty twinkle in her eye she was so very much ... herself. Even while talking about the front lines of the oncology ward, the horrors of her treatment, the fears around her upcoming surgeries.
The whole of the next morning I asked myself why I was so surprised that she was still the friend I've always known. Had I expected her to become someone else? So bowed down by the tragedy which has befallen her that she undergone a personality shift?
I realised I had been seeing her as a victim, whereas she sees herself, of course, as a survivor, and that her best weapon is to be herself. To be clearer on that than ever before. To live as proud as possible to edge out death.
Yesterday I saw an old acquaintance who has, for now, beaten her cancer. She's fought back from Stage 3, wears the scars proudly, was the only adult frolicking in a pool of kiddies - when she got out she stood dripping on the side of the pool in front of a host of her fully-clothed peers without a hint of shyness.
'Fuck it,' she said, 'I nearly died, if I feel like swimming, I swim.'
And still I indulge myself in the grumps. What an asshole.