My Best Friend has osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. He was diagnosed in July and for the most part hasn’t had serious issues with his treatment. He’s still the same goofy best friend I knew before he was diagnosed. But the thing is, I’m not the same anymore. I’m terrified, anxious and worried for him and his health. This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. And people can say “Oh boo hoo, you aren’t the one stuck in a hospital bed getting treatment.” You’re right. I’m not the one getting drugs infused in my body every other week, but I’m heartbroken for him that a 20 year old has to face something like this in his junior year of college.
We schedule all of our classes together. Seriously three out of five of them. We lived in the same dorm and would walk to the caf at 7:20am every morning before our 8 am class together. I would eat dinner with him and his brothers at least twice a week. He’s like a brother to me. All of the Beta Theta Pi’s are on our campus. We would all go out every single weekend together. He and two of his brothers scooped me up off the floor after a breakup, handed me a beer and tortilla chips, and sat me in the middle of their room and let me cry while chugging a beer. So when I got a text while in the car on the way to Myrtle Beach saying he wouldn’t be returning this semester, I didn’t know what to do or say.
His cancer is in his knee and thankfully has stayed in one place. While it hasn’t been an easy journey, he has stayed extremely upbeat and positive. He even just got elected President of the Student Union, or the student body on campus. But as much as he relies on me for positivity and to not talk about cancer or what’s going on sometimes, I’ve relied on him all since July to teach me to be a better person. I never thought that there would be a semester where he wouldn’t be here. But even though he isn’t here, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to look at life a little differently.
You cannot look at tomorrow and your planner and groan. I’m sure you have fifty thousand things to do. We all do. But that doesn’t meant that tomorrow is going to be the worst day of your life. Tomorrow might be the best day! Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a lottery ticket and win a million dollars on a whim or you’ll meet the man of your dreams and turn into Cinderella when the clock strikes midnight. Regardless, you can’t look at everyday as a list of things you just need to get through. Going through the motions is a waste of time. I’m sure my best friend would love to be sitting there doing everything he possibly could cram into a day, and he can’t right now. So don’t just sit around and watch Netflix everyday because it’s raining and you’re bored. Get outside and go do something.
Being patient and waiting is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life. Have I mastered it yet? No, absolutely not. But, I have a better appreciation for waiting for things. The number of days it takes waiting to hear if a doctor has called him back yet or waiting to hear the best news that he’s being released a day early from the hospital; it’s not easy to be patient. It’s not easy when you just want someone to be healed right away and you wish that you could take away any pain. Cancer is a waiting game: the deadliest and most frustrating game life could ever play on someone. I’ve learned though that as annoyed as I am about waiting to hear how he’s doing and wishing his doctors would hurry the heck up, he’s just as frustrated. You have to take a step back and realize that things take time and to be more understanding and especially when he’s frustrated about it, there’s no reason for me to be. It just adds to stress that he doesn’t need to deal with.
And I think the biggest thing I’ve learned throughout this entire journey is to be thankful for every single day that we’re given. You honestly can’t predict what tomorrow is going to bring. There’s never a way of knowing what could happen a month from now. I never thought that my best friend would be sitting in the hospital for a week at a time going through chemotherapy. It can easily be me or any of our other friends in a similar position at any time, and you just can’t take life for granted. The things that every college student complains about especially me, like not wanting to go to class just because I have a headache or not wanting to do homework because I’d rather go to bed early are things I’ve learned I need to stop whining about. Stay up late, and strive to be the best you can because someone else is counting on you to do that.
I never thought I would ever write an article like this. But i’m thankful for our friends who constantly make sure that we’re all surviving, and most importantly, supporting him. He’s been kicking this tumor’s ass like no one else could. Because out of any of us, he’s the strongest and I’m so lucky to call him my best friend.
While there are those who will forever call Maryland part of the North, the Mason-Dixon Line technically puts the Old Line State in the South. Growing up right, smack-dab in the middle of Maryland, I never realized how much of a southerner I was, until I made the 7 hour drive to upstate New York to begin my college education. I was suddenly in a new world that made me feel quite out of place. However, I did come to adapt to my surroundings and also learned a few lessons along the way.
7. “Y’all” Is Not In Their Vocabulary.
When saying “y’all” is something completely normal at home, and you don’t think twice about it but, you say it up north and get a very different reaction. You will get looks like you’ve just made up some sort of gibberish and others may giggle in response; neither will remove the word from my vocabulary. Which brings me to my next lesson learned:
6. You’ve Got an Accent.
Even though my accent isn’t the strongest, not even close actually, northerners are quick to point out the slight twang I put on certain words or the stronger drawl that comes out when I speak quickly. But at the end of the day, you know that Southern drawl sounds a whole lot sweeter than anything the north has to offer accent-wise.
5. It’ All About Hockey.
Coming from a little suburban town, football games under those Friday night lights was what it was all about. Up north, hockey rules all and you better figure that out as soon as possible so you’re not that Southerner asking “When’s halftime?” It was a brand new experience for me; I ended up having just as great of a time in the hockey stands as I did in those football bleachers.
4. My Goodness, It’s Cold
Going from the middle of Maryland to upstate New York, I knew I was in for colder weather; and oh boy did I find it, and then some. I definitely came to appreciate the ridiculously large coat my mother bought me, that I swore I’d never need, as well as the snow boots that aren’t the cutest but certainly get the job done and keep me from sliding around and falling on my butt when walking down a set of stairs.
3. Not All Tea Is Sweet Tea.
This was a fact that I was not ready for. Not that it’s super difficult to add some sugar or honey, but when you’re expecting some of mama’s sweet tea and get a big gulp of the unsweetened stuff, it’s just not the same. Northerner’s don’t know the bliss they’re missing; to each their own, I suppose.
2. They Weren’t Lying About The Pizza.
The fact that I have ordered pizza from a Pizza Hut or Dominos, or any other pizza chain for that matter, horrifies just about every New Yorker I come in contact with. But for good reason, the pizza up here deserves all the praise it gets. While on the subject of food, they know what they’re doing with those bagels too. Who else is hungry now?
1. You’ll Miss That Southern Hospitality.
This isn’t to say that everyone is rude (not that there aren’t exceptions to that rule), but the gestures aren’t the same. Northern hospitality is family centered while the South extends theirs to the whole community, including the complete stranger on the street. Regardless of where you are, a smile from a passerby or a door being held open shouldn’t be reserved as just a “northern” or “southern” thing. Share the love. Now, whether I’m in the Albany area or around Baltimore, I feel at home.
11 Things I Would Have Told Myself At The Beginning of Freshman Year
11) It is extremely okay to dress casual.
In high school, everyone at my school felt the need to constantly dress up so me being the naive person that I am showed up on move in day with a cute cheap romper but came out with a reality check.
10) Make friends with everyone on your hall. Literally everyone.
I wish I had reached out to more people on my hall. There were a few I became really good friends with but there were still awkward silences with those that I never got to meet. I got to halfway through the year wishing I had gotten closer because some of the girls looked really cool. However, it was already too late in the year to start new friendships.
9) It is okay to eat alone.
First semester of freshman year, I never wanted to eat alone which sometimes resulted in me skipping meals if my friends couldn’t eat with me. Next semester I started eating alone like a couple of the other people I saw and it became perfectly normal to me. You’re not always going to have someone to eat with every time you’re hungry so might as well make the most of it.
8) Put in work everyday.
A saying someone once said, this is a motivational thing I should have lived by. I started working out everyday like I did in the summer and kept literally every pound of the freshman 15 off until my schedule started becoming hectic and I could only work out twice a week. Soon after, the calories weren’t as easy to keep off.
7) Friends will back stab you.
Back in high school, I always had a solid group of friends that never hurt me. Coming here, I had to start fresh not knowing who I could trust. The ultimate act of betrayal was one from the girl who I became closest to in my pledge class who literally as soon as she became friends with others, started ignoring me and not inviting me to anything they went to. Later on, I found my real friend group in my pledge class and realized not everyone is going to be nice to you.
6) Be nicer to the boy you friendzoned.
The guy you friendzoned is actually the one who would do anything for you. I had a guy friend like that once who totally would buy me Taco Bell and one time even gave me a piggyback from my room to the community bathroom one night (my room is literally at the end of the hall). We got into a huge fight though and I regret not being so nice to a guy that really cared about me.
5) You will miss you high school friends and hometown like crazy.
Although I was only an hour away from my hometown (from Athens to Atlanta), I missed Atlanta so so much. From the constant variety of concerts to gatherings with my friends, everything and anything was what I missed. As for friends, sometimes you just can’t help missing your old ones because it’s hard to find others like them.
4) It is okay to go home alone.
Some nights, we pull. And some nights we don’t. Although it may seem like all of your friends went home with a guy. It’s not the end of the world. Just nestle up to some popcorn and watch some of your favorite Netflix to get your mind off of it. I remember one night me and my friend from next door literally had a girls night after a night out just talking and eating Goldfish which was honestly a lot better than a boy.
3) Boys will be a**holes.
In college you will learn just exactly how notorious guys can be for this. With a plethora of beautiful girls on my campus, every day seems like one big competition. You might feel like you have a grip on a guy but the next time you seem him he will be flirting with a super pretty girl.
2) Get involved.
I really wish I had gotten more involved this year. Being busy with schoolwork, friends, and other plans just made me totally forget about being involved in organizations on campus. Seeing everyone else that was involved having fun, I instantly regretted it.
1) Remember school is the main reason you’re here.
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the college atmosphere with the constant invitations to events and plethora of friends and boys. This is something that my dad loves to remind me of literally every time I come home. As much as I love to roll my eyes at his lecture, he is absolutely right. As much as we can get caught up in the aspects of college life, we can never forget the main reason why we are here. We have dreams to chase and lots of peeps to prove wrong.
Having No Sisters Is Awful
When I came to college I was very skeptical about joining a sorority. Having grown up with an older and younger brother, I had never understood what it was like to have a sister. Sure, I knew how to be a sister, but there is a big difference from being a sister’s sister and a brother’s sister. I only had experience with the latter. Being a brother’s sister basically means being there to play video games and being the ball-fetcher when they are playing any kind of sport.
Growing up I always had my close group of friends, but I never lived with them, nor did I spend a majority of time with them. The only woman I had ever lived with was my Mom, and while she was able to teach me all of the basics of femininity like shaving my legs and how to braid my hair, I never really had a sisterly experience.
The decision to rush came shortly after moving in to my dorm freshman year of college. After befriending many of the girls on the floor who had been adamant about rushing in the winter since day one, I realized that recruitment could not only find me a home for the next three years at school, but that it could also find me the sisters that I never got a chance to have as a child.
I am happy to say that it did both.
When I moved into my sorority house this August, I had already begun getting lessons in living from my roommates and sisters that I would have never gained with my brothers. We printed out dope posters for our room, set up a string of white Christmas lights to add a little coziness to the room and began organizing our closets. As shallow as this may sound, I am so thankful that my sisters taught me how to properly organize my hair and make-up products.
Speaking of which, I began to learn about hair and make-up when I moved into the house. This is not to say that I began caking on inches of suffocating concealers and mascaras to validate myself as a woman. My sisters have taught me that true beauty comes within from day one. However, I am a big believer the ability to boost your confidence through the roof with a little bit of red lipstick, thanks to my sister, Brooke. Thanks to my sister Caroline, I have learned how therapeutic and happy I feel when I properly curl my hair. That’s right, I had no idea how to curl my hair until the age of 20. I did, however, know how to get a speed boost in Mario Kart since the age of 6. Keri and Colby are constantly dressing me. It actually terrifies me to think what I will do when I graduate and I do not have them all within ten feet of my room.
While the hair, make-up and clothes are all things that I am grateful to have learned about, there is one thing that I have learned from my sisters that will always be close to my heart: they have taught me how to redefine what it means to be a woman. We are all 20-somethings who are figuring out what we want to do with our lives, but my sisters all are sure of one thing: themselves. I am so lucky to be surrounded by girls my age who are unapologetically themselves. They are proud of their strengths and weaknesses. They refuse to sweat the small stuff, not because they don’t want shiny foreheads, but because they know that they could have it so much worse in their lives. They worship strong, independent women like Beyoncé and Lena Dunham. The work hard at the gym and the library because they take pride in both their mental and physical health. They play hard when we go out because just like Cyndi Lauper said, girls just wanna have fun.
They are crazy, passionate, caring, intelligent and strong women. So while it took me 19 years to encounter them, I could not be happier to finally have sisters to teach me, party with me, grow with me, laugh with me and live with me.