We’ll Be Saying Remember When. Laura’s Story.

Two weeks ago, tired, after my annual breast MRI, I visited my friend Laura who’s battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma with gusto and glory in a way I know not of. She told me she had just endured four rounds of chemo for six days straight. WTF?! Is that even possible? I couldn’t even deal with one every three weeks!

I entered the room. It was so happily decorated with bright colors-an orange and cream blanket, pictures of Hawaii (which is her residence) and most importantly her beautiful two-year old son. I pulled a chair next to her.

The Haircut

laura-martancik“So this is what today is!” (She points to her pile of hair that she’s been pulling out all morning.)

I can relate. I know that feeling. It hurts your scalp but more-so hurts your livelihood, right down to your soul. Hair. It’s what helps define us women. Hair. It’s the single worst word that I have ever heard since cancer. Hair on the ground? Shitty. Pulling your hair out in globs? F*#@ S*&!

“I have been requesting a hairdresser for three days now,” she said.

In my mind I envisioned myself running down to the corner drug store and coming back up with a buzz-cutter. I knew that feeling of wanting to just get it taken care of, the feeling of not wanting to shower because it would come out faster. I was ready and willing to do my diligent duty right now. Then, a knock at the door. It was the hairdresser in all her glory. Of all the amazing people that had visited her throughout her stay, I KNEW that this was MY TIME to be WITH HER. At that. Very. Moment.

The hairdresser was smiling and compassionate. We got to talking. I mentioned how I had just gotten my annual scan earlier that day. I told her that it obviously had changed my life for the better, stating that I was on the “Looking Forward” board for a couple years and that this was the type of things we raised money for. I asked her if she had heard of it. As fate would have it, she was the hairdresser that we the board had been eagerly anticipating to hire for months! When we finally got the go ahead to hire her, everyone on the board was super excited! I mean, this touches lives. She would be touching lives.

Laura’s eyes were closed for most of the time while her hair was falling quietly to her sides from the razor. I sat across from her, remembering having the same exact feeling. There’s no turning back at that point. Her chin twitched. I got off my chair, reached under the black hairdresser’s cape and squeezed her hand. The sound of the buzz-cutters chimed on. The hairdresser was finished. Laura walked into the bathroom towards the mirror with her bad-ass self, “Well hey! Haven’t seen YOU in a while!”

I mean, this girl looked GOOD! She looked HOT! And her smile? Still as brilliant and radiant as ever. She took her much-anticipated shower and came out exhausted, although not expressing it with her words. I suggested that I go and she agreed she was definitely in need of some rest.

Remember When

I closed the door. I knew she was tired. Surely more tired than I was this morning when I walked in to meet her. I mean, tired isn’t even the word. It’s stupid exhausted. Spent. Done. And ya know what?! She continues to fight. And I believe she will. And she will get through this for her son James. And for herself. And when she’s back thriving in Hawaii I will come visit her and say, “Remember when?”

Support Laura

Support Laura by visiting her GoFundMe page.

Erica is a nurse at Yale New Haven Hospital who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. By day she advocates for her patients and by night she advocates for women of all ages in the breast cancer world. She lives in Connecticut where she resides with her husband, Ben and her dog Zoe. She is fueled by passion to spread awareness where information and perception are lacking

24 Responses

  1. An amazing story about an amazing little lady! Well written, truly touching.

  2. Thank you so much Erica for being with Laura during such tough times! You have written a wonderful, touching article. So anxious for Laura’s healing so her and my grandson can return home. They are sorely missed hete in Hawaii. Much Aloha, Love & Prayers to both of you. xoxoxo

    • Erica Bartol

      Thanks JoAnn for reading and your support. We love Laura and her #sweetbabyjames I’m sure they are looking forward to the warm weather soon!

  3. To put me next to my friend for just a moment as she fights this stupid thing is priceless. Sometimes, I honestly forget how hard this is for her because she is always putting on her smile and sarcasm. thanks for taking your time to share her awesomeness. it means more than you know.

    • Erica Bartol

      Glad to hear, Brooke! I know, we as humans tend to think if we see a smile then she’s all good. But she’s dealing with so much in such a positive inspirational way.

  4. I cried reading this all my prayers are with you Laura and you Erica for being such a great friend i know in my heart your gonna beat this fight hard stay strong never give up

  5. Tears streaming down my face! What a beautiful article. Laura is one of my good friends and you captured her sprit and bad ass spirit perfectly! Thank you for writing this and I pray for a speedy journey to “the remember when” stage for you both! All my love and Aloha

  6. I loved reading your thoughts Erica. I think you were meant to be with Laura to support her at just the right moment. What a blessing for both of you. The short video of her and her precious little boy was delightful. to watch. Thanks for sharing with us. My thoughts and prayers are with your friend and her family.

    • Erica Bartol

      Thanks Karen! I’ll never forget our first PTFE meeting at Panera! You have always been such a supporter!

  7. You described it perfectly. It’s just hair, but when mine started falling out in clumps it hurt. I didn’t want to shower because more would come out. I didn’t want to get up to see it on my pillow. My husband grabbed the clippers and I sat there silently as it fell to the floor!

    Also, what a strong woman, I can barely deal with a single treatment every three weeks. I am 30 with a three year old son and those little hugs and reunions give more strength than any drug. I hope she’s doing well!

  8. Erica,
    This was extremely heartwarming.
    We love Laura so much and wish we could make it all better.
    Thank you so very much for this and for being by her side.

    • Erica Bartol

      Thanks Sandra! She’s an inspiration to me! She’ll get through this! It’s just really tough right now. :( We all wish we could do more to help.

    • Erica Bartol

      Thanks for reading, Sandra!

  9. Beautifully written! So many of Laura’s loved ones are so far away and you simply just transported us 1,000 of miles to be by her side. Thank you and you both are true inspirations. Xoxo

  10. You really put me there in the room with my good friend Laura. Tears and hope over here. I wish I could take it all away. Xoxo

    • Erica Bartol

      Awesome Katie! Thanks for reading…..your support means the world to both her and me…..

  11. Beautifully written and so true! Great job sister!

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