I have a cadre of old friends I keep up with via this handy invention called email. We rarely see each other, hell I haven’t seen some of them in person in over 9 years, but we keep each other informed on life’s banalities and that suffices until the next high school reunion.

Included in this mass emailing is a peripheral friend. A transitional logic friend. A person who is friends with my friends, hence maybe we’d like each other if actually knew each other, but we don’t. It’s not acrimonious, I mean hey, I just don’t know her. I’ll admit my disinclination as she’s always been a girly-girl and I am decidedly not. I know of her, she knows of me, and we’re better than acquaintances because we’ve known a lot about each other and of each other for so long, but I would never go as far as to say we’re friends.

So Periphery Girl just had her breasts lobbed off. The Big DM. And she has opted out of all the reconstructive and boob-adding hooplah that normally follows such an event. And my friends who actually know her are going positively ape-shit.

Apparently she had fairly malignant tumor in one breast and given that she has lost her maternal grandmother, mother, all of her aunts and two sisters to this disease, she decided upon a pre-emptive strike. And I really hate to admit it, but after knowing of her for 20 years, I suddenly find her fascinating. So, given our long status as transitional friends, I dropped her a line offering support.

Well, that little act blew off the cover of a well spring that was bubbling within her, because we’ve had two weeks of constant one-on-one email conversations that have certainly taught me to not judge a book by its’ cover.

But this is not about her, this is about our friends.

I am floored and dare I say a little bit disgusted by my friends and their opinion that Periphery Girl is somehow “denying herself a full life” or “killing her chances at getting married” and that she is somehow not a real woman because she opted to go scorched earth on a disease that has claimed the better part of her family. I have read everything from “she’s in denial” to PG is obviously “deeply depressed” and is inflicting “greater damage” upon her person.

Bullshit ladies, utter bullshit.

To the contrary, she has chosen life. She has chosen freedom. She has denied vanity in exchange for a sense of self. To her, having a double mastectomy isn’t so much a courageous decision as it is a fairly typical act of survival. And who the hell are any of us to condemn or say otherwise when we are not the one walking in her shoes?

I’ll be the first to admit PG had the most impressive bod in high school. She was that girl who first wore a bra in school. She was the one that could fill out a sweater like no one’s business. She was the one the guy would always comment about and follow around like the drooling little puppies they were. She was that girl.

And yet, I have come to discover she is a hell of a lot more than a pair breasts. It may have token me 20 years (I’m a little slow on the uptake), but you girls, as her friends, ought you not know that by now?

PG is a tad busy undergoing massive amounts of chemo, barfing her innards outs, and generally clinging to life while dealing with the other loss of vanity-her hair- so I dare say, having a pair of plastic balls inserted into her chest cavity that seeminlgy serve only to make you feel better about yourselves is probably really low on her list of priorities.

I made the joke last night that I would be happy to perform the time-honored female tradition of holding her hair while she puked, but she emailed me back this morning to say that so much had fallen out that she had to shave her head last evening.

So the first of you who dares to tell her to keep a stiff upper lip because cancer is “crazy sexy” is going to find my boot so far embedded in your keister, you’ll have to open your mouth to untie the laces. Dog almighty on a bun with sauce! How about a little sisterhood? If you really think breasts are what make you a “real woman” in this life then you need to sit in front of a mirror and have a little chat with yourself.

PG, hat’s off to you, sister. Be well, be strong, and thanks for reminding me what insipid, self-absorbed, and vain little nimrods we women can still be. Let’s make a date: 5 years from now, I fully intend to treat you for a well-deserved Girls Night Out, complete with barfing in a toilet while I hold your hair, if so desired. Because you’ll be here. I’m betting on it.