Amanda and I go way, way back. We met back when we both lived in Illinois. It was 4th of July weekend 1994 and we were at the same party because our parents were friends. We became friends instantly. At some point her family moved to Texas. Then they moved back, but Amanda stayed in Texas for college. This was before email, so we use to write letters! We kept in touch and we would get together at the holidays when she came back to Illinois to visit her family. (Amanda's story of how we met is different, but I'm positive my story is correct! :)
Years later we are still good friends, and she was one of my bridesmaids!
Then I get this fantastic invitation in the mail inviting me to her 30th birthday party...in Vegas! It was going to be 7 ladies and I had the chance to meet most of them on my visit. I was the only one not from El Paso, but they were super sweet and I wouldn't miss Amanda's birthday for the world.
Amanda & Esterina in Vegas.
Partying it up at Amanda's Dirty 30!
We had the most amazing time in Vegas! The long weekend was all too short.
Not two months later, I get this email from her husband:
Amanda had been feeling a little sick for the past 2 or 3 weeks. I just told her that since she was now 30 everything hurts all the time and not to worry. I had been experiencing those for awhile now and was and old pro. Things came to a head after our annual trip to Mexico during Thanksgiving when it was apparent that she was sick with a little more than Montezuma's revenge. She went to her Doctor back in El Paso on December 3rd of this year to see what they could find out. The doctor could not figure it out and ordered several blood tests to be performed. The next day the doctor called and made Amanda and I drop everything and get to the ER immediately as something was seriously wrong with Amanda.
After several blood tests we got the shocking results that Amanda did in fact have a real problem. Amanda was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia). As you might imagine it is not easy to hear that you are being diagnosed with Cancer. Luckily we have a wonderful oncologist and the staff was really great in getting us all settled into the hospital for the treatment of the cancer...
The email continues on and he talks about her upcoming chemotherapy treatments and what her life will be like for the next few years. I was SHOCKED and called her parents right away. They were leaving the next day to be with her and I wanted to go so badly to be by her side. The next several months she was in and out of the hospital and I kept in touch from California.
I am happy to say that she is doing better now, but the next several years will be the most challenging out of anyone I know. Amanda is extremely strong willed and she is totally kicking ALL's butt! The hardest part for her is not being able to do everything she wants for her girls. Look how happy they are here to cross off Amanda's last hospital visit on the calendar they made:
So the girls from the Vegas trip and I planned to surprise Amanda for her 31st birthday in El Paso! I flew in and surprised her at the house. Then we went to dinner and as she rounded the corner, it was all her playgroup friends & husbands!!! We had a great time and it was good to see all the ladies again.
Amanda is a truly special friend and I look forward to the day this A.L.L is a distant memory. You can follow her story on Caring Bridge's website: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/amandajoy