In 2014, I was invited to join an online cancer support group which had been loosely formed when some members of a parenting forum realised they all had one very shitty thing in common. Cancer.

We are all women, all young, all in the midst of normal when cancer came calling. We decided to call ourselves the Cancer Clique, to make a mockery of being a member of a select, secret group which nobody actually ever wants to join.

The conversations we have, well there are no words to explain those words. Awful, sad, desperate, painful, agonising conversations; so raw. Mostly punctuated with the most exquisite black humour, debauched jokes, inappropriate memes and self-deprecation that often had us punctuating our cries of pain with tears of laughter.  Sitting in our lounge rooms and bedrooms, on verandahs and in cars and hospital wards, on beaches and up mountains, across Australia and the world, we cry, laugh, cry some more.

Despite the fact that our group’s reason for being was cancer, I never expected any of us to die. To my mind, it was as if the camaraderie and shared experience would buoy us, carry us all above the waves of death, and see us safely landed on the shore of complete remission. But cancer is heavy, hefty, an anchor to stark reality.

Deb. February 2015.

Amelia. May 2015.

Jen. June 2015.

Emma. June 2015.

Nat. January 2016.

The unexpected has happened. Over and over. I have learned so much, things I never wanted to know, but that now see me richer for the knowing. I’ve seen so much of death, but so much more significantly, of lives lived, bold and bright, right up until the very last moment.

I am a witness. The privilege is mine.

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