I would like to tell you about my friend Ruth. Funny that I know a lot about Ruth, her family, some of her triumphs, heart aches, etc., and yet we have never met. I feel like I have always known Ruth and perhaps somehow we had once met but have been away from each other a long time since. The fact remains though, we have never met.
We were discussing our friendship recently and agreed we have known each other 14 or 15 years and hope perhaps we might actually meet this year! It's been especially rough for both of us these last couple of years.
Our friendship began with a message on an online guest book for a little boy who's brother; aged just 2 or 3, had Histiocytosis. I had been on the website and had signed the guest book wishing the family the best in care and hoping their little boy would be o.k. . My niece died from this very disease in 1982 at the age of 5 years. My sisters daughter. At the time there was much less known about the disease and prognosis may not have offered as many options. Ruth was looking for information about Histiocytosis in wanting to learn more about it because her little granddaughter, at the time just a toddler had been diagnosed with the disease.
When I began searching for more information about Histiocytosis it was many years after having lost my niece, I was married and had a family of my own.
Following my post on the above mentioned website I received an email from Ruth asking if I might have more information about the disease.. I hadn't talked to my sister about her daughter's death or the illness itself in some time but in asking her about it all she was quite willing to talk about it with hopes that perhaps we might offer some helpful information to Ruth.
Ruth lives in Georgia U.S.A and I here in Ontario, Canada.
For twelve years Ruth and I kept in touch via email, writing a few times each year with updates of our family and local happenings. She has always kept me abreast of what was happening with her grand daughter Kelly and how she was managing. Her Grand daughter has done very well and is a real trooper in all that she has had to endure in living with Histiocytosis. There have been many advancements in how this disease is treated and also in the prognosis for patients.
Two years ago Ruth and I advanced our ongoing correspondence with the addition of Facebook! Now we have a greater glimpse into each others lives and talk often. Ruth and I have also just this year exchanged mailing addresses and it was pretty exciting to be able to send her a "real time" Christmas card.
Over the course of these 14 years or so we have each been through a lot of ups and downs with our growing families, growing pains, and facing our own health issues.
Ruth has been struggling with Thyroid Cancer and I with Melanoma.
It's amazing to me how many years have gone by since we first connected with each other. It is wonderful that it began in support for each other and has developed into a long term friendship and continued support for each other as each of us faces new challenges in what we as individuals are going through or other members of our families as well as friends come to face. Triumphs are supported and shared as well.
This year someone I connected with on the Melanoma Network of Canada, has now too become connected with my friend Ruth, via facebook, as the result of our shared conversations! Janet is from Calgary. Janet also shared her mailing address with me, allowing me to send her a REAL handwritten letter and Christmas card as well. Our hope is that perhaps at some point we could arrange to meet at a location central to each of our geographic home locations! Through the magic of Social Media we have created our own triangle of support over many many miles!
Reaching out over many miles as well as with people right here at home really does help to get one through the rough times and helps build on strength in moving forward.