My Friend Amy
By Gina Cross
So many are looking for deep and meaningful friendships these days. I count myself lucky that I had found a friendship like that — a once-in-a-lifetime friendship that changed me forever.
Her name was Amy. We met as members of Wallingford Community Women.
She had a quick wit, a deep knowledge about everything, and the best laugh. She always had the best recipe or funny story to share.
Amy was a complete spitfire.
She had the delicate balance of being incredibly brilliant and funny simultaneously, and she supported everything that empowered women and girls.
We developed one of those friendships where you can communicate just by looking at each other. Even during COVID, we stayed connected by Zoom calls and texting.
To find a friend like her is lucky. To lose a friend like her is devastating.
Long before she met me, when she was only 13, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
Having childhood cancer, she would speak of her time in the hospital and tell me about the lifelong friendships she had made while hospitalized.
I also remember she would have to stop what she was doing and would frequently say, “my stupid heart.” This was a result of her cancer treatment all those years ago.
And then I remember the night we were all together before her heart surgery.
We spent the night playing games and giggling. I remember her being nervous, and none of us fully understood how risky her surgery would be.
If I had known the next day when I hugged her goodbye, what would happen, I would have hugged a little longer.
After surgery, they had to keep her medically sedated. She was placed on the ECMO to try to allow her heart to heal a bit, but in turn, the other parts of her body started to fail. She had circulation troubles, kidney failure, and many other things, which eventually led to them deciding to remove her from the machines.
Amy passed away on June 1.
The thought that her heart problems are a result of her childhood cancer treatment hits me hard this month since June is National Cancer Survivor Month.
She was a survivor, but she’s not here with me today.
In her absence, I try to remember what I’ve learned through our friendship. Because of Amy, I laugh a little harder, cry a little less, and smile much more.
If I could share any wisdom from this experience, it’s that time is quick, so you must love your friends and family passionately.
Research has shown that because of the treatments they had as kids, by the time they’re 50, more than 99% of survivors have a chronic health problem and 96% have severe or life-threatening conditions. Amy Blakeslee was a longtime supporter of the St. Baldrick’s Foundation because of its dedication to fund the best childhood cancer research to find less toxic treatments and give survivors long and healthy lives. Gina now continues to support St. Baldrick’s mission in Amy’s honor.