What Happened to the Girl Code? Cancer Edition: Introduction

I am constantly amazed by how lucky I am to have the female friends that I do. Somehow, I managed to acquire a truly remarkable set of them - each one more impressive, fun, and gorgeous than the next. Not only are they stunning - they are also brilliant, compassionate, funny and interesting. They have profoundly interesting jobs, sparkling conversational skills, exceptional dance moves, and killer style. I feel humbled and honored to know them, to be included in their activities and invited to their homes. Their visits inspire me, carry me through hard times, and keep me going when I think I cannot make it through another day. They are the reason I am a feminist - proud to be a girl, comfortable in myself, able to be open and raw.

But not all girls are like this. Some of them compete with each other. They make themselves bigger by trying to make other women small. I'm often reminded of the line from one of the classics of my youth - Drive Me Crazy - "When guys compete it's overt, ringing a bell with a sledgehammer or luggie chucking, the size of your engine or whatever. When girls compete, it's art. And Alicia, she's an artist." Melissa Joan Hart is of course describing her wicked BFF, the scheming/lying/sexually aggressive character who tells the star basketball player's girlfriend that he's in a cult to end their relationship so she can have him for herself.

Watching this movie again as an "adult" felt too contrived and vicious to be real. The plot mechanism of a charming, ABC Family movie from the last century. The sad truth is that it exists as a cinematic trope because it happens. Women do nasty things to other women.

My father-in-law gifted me with the most amazing book for xmas.  Cancer Vixen is a stunning "graphic memoir" of breast cancer. The author, Marisa Acocella Marchetto, is my spirit animal. My only regret is not getting this book sooner. Nobody warned me about the weight gain either.  I wish I had been so precise about documenting the outfits/shoes I wore to each chemo.  Most of all, the very real fears and struggles of going through cancer while in a new, exciting romantic relationship with a much sought after man. A man, much like my own, who has girls throwing themselves at him constantly.

This is such a part of my cancer love story I was shocked to realize I had never written it down. When it comes to the list of indignities I suffered during my diagnosis and cancer treatment, this one still invokes one of the most painful gut punches. It's one of the few stories I have about breast cancer that shows how humanity let me down instead of lifting me up. I struggle to understand it, to reconcile it with the love, positive energy and constant support that the universe sent my way to get me through this nightmare.

So, like all things I struggle with, I decided to write about it here. To see if by documenting the story I could finally put an answer to this question: What happened to the Girl Code? Especially when the other woman in question is going through cancer. 


Image from Cancer Vixen 

to be continued...