For Marie-Christine

december 18, 2019

Marise Toupin

It Takes Three

The unbreakable bond of three friends

We are three young women who are still young girls at heart. We spent countless hours talking while sitting on a bed in Trois-Rivières or at the summer camp we all attended. None of us were entirely well-behaved, and this was great for our early 20s. It seems so long ago now, chatting on the phone and twisting the curly phone cord in the middle of the kitchen. We were perfectly happy, our minds full of projects and dreams, the “ifs” and “maybes” filled with promises of a great future.

Heartbreaking News

Until That Day...

One day our world turned upside down. We went from three to two. Two to hold down the fort while one was fighting for her life. Two crying on the phone, twisting the curly cord in the kitchen, while one was gearing up for the biggest battle of her life.

I remember our youthful innocence, thinking you weren’t going to lose your hair. Nope, not you! But you did lose it, more than once. I sometimes feel like things could’ve (and should’ve) been so much easier. Is this what life had in store to guarantee we’d reach our forties together? If so, then bring it on! But this time, we’ll share the blows. Deal?

There we were, at an age when we should’ve been partying like there was no tomorrow. Yet, our main topics of conversation became death, life, PICC lines, transplants, blood cells, and narcotics. Some narcotics make you laugh until your belly hurts, but the ones you took made you blackout and forget for long periods of time. That damn cancer was relentless. It took you from treatment to treatment, isolated you in rooms where we couldn’t enter.

Even when we’re sick, we celebrate!

Marilyn, Marie-Christine, and Marise during Marie-Christine’s 3rd relapse

Despite Everything, You Strive to Live

Life Takes Its Course

Then, life brought me my son Jacob. As we all know, babies are always sick. I didn’t want his germs to contaminate you, so we kept to ourselves and went back to our phone call routine. Every day, come hell or high water, we’d chat at 5 pm. On my end of the line, all I could do was channel all my energy to help you find yours again.

Too many times, we went to bed heartbroken, hoping our happy trio would be reunited once more. We held our breath countless times on the days you had scans. We all know you would’ve done the same for us.

All of these years in treatment, from gruelling chemo to your transplant, were what it took for us to grow old together. Medicine gave us the greatest gift of all: our friendship. Thanks to advances in science, you’re still here, and somewhere on the other side of the world lives the woman who gave you a second chance at life.

Here we are now, knocking on the door of our forties… still three, still standing. We can experience moments of pure joy as well as dramas and continue to live our adult lives like a normal bunch of friends. Just knowing we can spend an evening chatting over a meal that never ends fills my heart with love.

Happiness should be shared. Marilyn and I both signed up to become stem cell and bone marrow donors to give other people the amazing chance of keeping their friend. When baby number two came along, I also donated my umbilical cord blood. These easy gifts might allow unknown friends to enter adulthood together.

Our Next Generation

The Promise of the Future

The time now passes normally, and we’re aging together. My oldest is now in his teens and has the best godmother one could dream of: you. He saw firsthand the joy of a great friend being saved by a complete stranger and has vowed to become a donor himself when he reaches 18 years old. We’ve come full circle, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

With love from your two almost-sisters,

Marise and Marilyn

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