The Buddy System

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Breast-Cancer Buddies

Maggie Hesse & Kerry Tobin

Maggie, 37, is a stay-at-home mom. Kerry, 39, is a single business owner with no kids.

Maggie likes romantic movies. Kerry prefers foreign indie films. Maggie's an open book; Kerry's much more private. Maggie's a jeans-and-sweatshirts gal from Cincinnati who says of Kerry, a native New Yorker, "She practically has a purse for every day of the year." But they're both talkers, Maggie says -- and brand-new best friends.

Kerry: We met last spring. I'd just been diagnosed with breast cancer and my boyfriend called the Susan G. Komen for the Cure office. They gave him the name of a young survivor I could speak with: Maggie Hesse.

Maggie: Kerry and I talked for almost two hours; we really hit it off.

Kerry: I was only 37, and my mom had died of breast cancer. But in that phone call I felt so alive. I was laughing and laughing, thinking, Gosh, I have breast cancer; how could I possibly laugh so much?

Maggie: Since I was two and a half years out from my diagnosis, I could help her find the humor. I told her how I always wanted bigger boobs, and because of cancer, I got 'em and insurance paid for it! Or how being bald from chemotherapy cut 10 minutes off my time in the shower. I think she could see that once you get to the other side, it's not all bad.

Kerry: My confidence had been shaken. She gave me the strength to find it again. She literally turned my last chemo session into a party, complete with a bottle of champagne.

Maggie: We didn't actually drink it!

Kerry: When the chemo kicked in, I was so self-conscious about losing my hair. And she'd just say, "Oh, you're such a cute bald person!" I thought the friendship was one-sided, but it turned out to be good for both of us.

Maggie: I so admire Kerry's strength and independence, and I feel that way when we're together, too. She's brought out things in me that I've suppressed or ignored my whole life. I made a card to celebrate Kerry's last chemo, and she was like, "You should sell these! What's keeping you? Do it!" So I've started a greeting-card business called A Survivor's Sentiments.

Kerry: I honestly believe that the mark of true friendship is when someone can see you for yourself.

Maggie: That's the amazing thing about our friendship, considering that we met because of her cancer. She needed me, but I needed her, too.

Continued on page 3:  Long-Distance BFFs

 

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