What are you wearing to chemo?

red ink . . .

I am definitely the more conservative dresser between us. I remember going to my college visit dressed in the latest preppy handbook gear which, scarily enough, is back in. . .My style has changed thankfully, updated a bit, but I’m still more comfortable in loafers and a sweater than rocking the latest trendy fashions.
I’m so grateful for having style mavens who help me get out of my comfort zone on occasion, and keep me from ending up on “What not to wear?” Barb is most often my “go-to” person when I need a style consultation, because she keeps up (e.g. reads In Style and I don’t usually, preferring Real Simple – totally appropriate).

I’m not always ready to go where she goes. Like, when Barb came to town last year for her annual (except this year 😦 ) homecoming trip, I remember asking her if she was actually going to wear one of the outfits that she pulled out! She is definitely more edgy than I am, and way more high fashion. I don’t take the fashion risks she takes, and I definitely don’t think I’d do the bald thing half as well as she has . . .

Monday is chemo day and as crazy as it sounds, I always ask her what she’s wearing to chemo? It’s my way of taking her pulse. I know she’s still “there” if she details the outfit, complete with earrings, and shoes. So far, she hasn’t stuttered, though it would be perfectly ok if she had. I laugh to myself and am secretly proud of my little sis – proud that she’s not letting cancer take away her style! Take that, cancer!

One of her biggest complaint this past week? Not knowing how she was going to find an evening dress for her husband’s big function that would cover her port, yet still be sexy? She is a such a mess . . .

You can’t imagine how much nervous thought I put into getting my outfits together for my trip to see her earlier this fall. Should I wear my boots? (I didn’t and wished I had). Did I need new leggings? (I actually bought some – good call, but not totally effective, without the boots.) What jewelry should I take? (I opted for the hoop earrings, albeit not as big as hers.) She is one of my most stylish friends, and I couldn’t go her way looking dowdy. I was there to cheer her up. I had to raise my game! Why did she and another fly Phoenix friend (Hi Joy!) pick me up from the airport, looking so put together complete with sunglasses! I was grateful that I’d taken the time for the pre-trip shopping spree though I knew in an instant from her full out, true sister-girl hug, that she didn’t care if I was wearing a paper bag – She was just glad that I was there . . ..

At the end of the day, she may not remember one stitch of my “chemo visit” outfits, but her daughter noticed. Even on the dreaded morning when her mom was going to chemo – a morning that her parents told me is often really hard on her — Blayre managed to take notice of my fashion efforts and say “I like your outfit, Aunt Michele.” She is truly her mother’s daughter!

In the end, our differences in style are more than made up for by our similarities in substance. Our parents raised us with the same values – education, family, focusing on what’s important and not on the dumb stuff. Our moms were a generation removed from each other and never met, but were regularly on the same script. We both love our husbands and our children fiercely. We can be a tad sensitive but will give you whatever we have if you’re in the inner circle. We’re self conscious and love to laugh, almost always at ourselves and our situations. On the outside, “I’m a little bit country (dressed right now in a RL sweatsuit) . . and she’s a little bit rock and roll (dressed, no doubt, in something cutting edge)! Yes Barb, I did quote “Donnie and Marie.” My girl is somewhere mortified and laughing. It reminds me, too, of my bestie from Boston (Shout out to Doreen!) and how our style mis-match underlies our 30+ year friendship that has sustained us through lots of life’s ups and down. Good recipe, I think, for a life long friendship — Find your fashion alter ego. Someone who you can laugh and cry with. Make sure that ultimately she loves you for who you are regardless of what you’re wearing. Mix well with life, and a sister-friendship is borne! It will get you through anything . . . even chemo!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. bwats
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 02:19:34

    side note to all…While I do indeed dress a tad more trendy, no one would consider me risky! LOL I just refuse to give in to Chicos for another 10 years!! Just say no!


  2. inkwellchicks
    Dec 02, 2011 @ 03:49:31

    Don’t hate on Chico’s! You will be there before you know it! It’s like Garanimals for the pre-senior set. They actually have a little “swag” as my son would say. Just stay away from the pants with elastic waists . . .


  3. Tracey Walker-Banks
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 02:00:15


    I sit here in my office on 13th floor with the most amazing view of Camelback mountain simply breathless. With tears uncontrollably flowing, my view of the mountain is blurred as I try to write you this message. I have read your blog twice now and it has deeply touched the inner depth of my soul. I am truly a believer in God’s promise that all things work together for good. While on my cancer journey, my prayer was to be able to recognize the good that would come from this horrible experience that robbed me of so much physically, mentally and emotionally yet gave me so much physically, mentally and emotionally. Today, I can clearly see what my purpose on the other side of this experience would be. In totality, my diagnosis with cancer, my walk through that time, our moves to Phoenix, our meeting, our instantaneous bond that exceeded the natural social organization attachment, the cultivating of our friendship, our love of each others families, our involvement with the CBBC, our commitment to Komen and ultimately your diagnosis, all of these things were orchestrated by His hand so that we could walk this journey together as sisters. The bottom line is that God has placed us together to weather this storm and to be able to enjoy the rainbow.

    I am always intrigued by the similarities of our illnesses. Totally different, yet so much the same. Even our journey was about the same time during the year. When you told me that you were having the Red Devil, I didn’t have the heart to tell you the whole truth. Instead, I spooned fed it to you. The Taxotere you will be able to do with your eyes closed now. Your body will return to it’s pre-treatment stage and your hair will grow back. Your approach to life will forever be changed and probably the texture of your hair too. Your mental fortitude will be off the chain.

    I smile when I see you give dap instead of hugs; when you keep your feet warm; when you rock your bald head with confidence and the assurance that other people’s discomfort is not about you; when you have perfected your eyebrows; when you believe that you do not have to be superwoman; when you just go with the nausea; when you allow Brendon to take care of Blayre during the night when she is ill; when you insist on Benadryl; when you share your wacky dreams; when you get the jolt of energy from a transfusion. I often try to rack my brain to find other little tips to pass on. I am tickled that you find comfort in consulting me on issues as they arise.

    My admission to you is that during your journey, this is the third time I have cried. The first was on the drive home from Hillstone after you revealed your diagnosis. I so wanted you to be wrong. I asked God why you. You had punched your ticket to be an advocate of all things related to breast cancer and you had proven that you did not have to experience it first hand to be effective. I can only imagine what your testimony will look like now. The power that has been unleashed in you walking this path is unimaginable. You are already doing it with this blog. I find it interesting that you always knew this time would come. The second time I cried was when you sent me the picture during your transfusion. I cried not because I was sad for you because I knew you would be feeling like a rock star later. It was my own reflection of the path that was still a bit tender. That picture opened the flood gates of thinking about my family and what they had to experience. As mothers, we are the protectors of the family unit. We will fight any bear that tries to infringe on the well being of our clan. I thought about Blayre and what it must be like to watch your mom who is her very best friend be in such an unfamiliar physical place. I thought about Brendon having to hold it together at work and picking up the slack at home. Him looking at the woman he chose to spend his life with battle for hers. I thought about your mom (who is now my new favorite adopted mom) and how she processed her only daughter being ill and being so far away. Girl, you know your mom is a take-charge kind of sister and this is driving her insane. I just love her. I thought of your Dad and his way of dealing with the illness of his baby girl. But all and all, I try to remember that it is His perfect plan. There will be no more crying for me. My big girl panties are in place and yes mine too are pink.

    Being able to talk with you and to share my experiences brings me so much joy. It made the ride well-worth the tribulations. You can never talk to me too much about our journey. At the end of the day, I am hopeful that I am being a servant of our Lord and allowing His blessings to me to be encouraging to you. I am looking forward to sharing the rainbow with you. I promise, it is coming.

    You sister always,

    Tracey Walker-Banks


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