My Best Friend's Cancer Told Me To Beat My Eating Disorder

My Best Friend's Cancer Told Me To Beat My Eating Disorder

She never cried, she always had my back, and she held me accountable for words and actions.

Just before my first class of my senior year of college, my best friend calls me to tell me she has cancer. I was waiting for her call all morning; I knew where she was. The burnt red brick under my feet grew hazy, and tear drops fell to the ground. She tried to make it seem like she accidentally ripped my sweater, or she forgot to pick up toilet paper from the store.

“Hey, so the doctor said it’s cancer…”

I clear my throat, “Okay… And?” I could feel my hair start to sweat as chills went up and down my spine.

“Ashley, don’t cry.” Of course, that’s always when you start to cry harder.

Libby was always the stronger one growing up. She never cried, she always had my back, and she held me accountable for words and actions. Best friends, established in the 7th grade when we sat at the same table in Mrs. Johnson’s block class. We made up code names for the boys that we had crushes on and wore old heavy metal band tees almost every day.

“I’ll be home later today. It’s going to be OK.”

I was already sucked into the riptide of my eating disorder; thrown into the unforgiving waters of self-doubt and destructiveness. I worked out at least twice a day, obsessed over the food I ate and the food I needed to throw up. Waves of self-hate crashed down on me. At this point, I already relapsed twice – once when I went back to school in Iowa after summer break, and again, while in a toxic relationship, where my boyfriend counted my calories for me. I would come up for a breath of air after what felt like months and months of being suffocated, only for self-hate to pull me under once again and attempt to drown me.

Libby and I lived with our other best friend, Courtney, at the time. I went home to Courtney after class and cried with her while we waited for our best friend. Our apartment was too small for the three of us; it was a two bedroom place and Courtney lived in a curtained off section of our living room. We needed it like that. We didn’t know it when Courtney moved in with us, but all three of us needed to be as close to each other as possible during this.

As a trio of best friends, we were hardly affectionate toward each other. I’ve only hugged Libby twice over the course of our 12 year friendship – once when we won an important softball game to advance us in the post-season, and once when I didn’t tell her I was coming home from Iowa to surprise her. I’ve hugged Courtney three more times than that. We are more of a high-fiving kind of group. We like to go outside and be in the sun. That’s how we are affectionate towards each other – sharing rays of warmth and plans of the future.

When Libby walked through door of our apartment, we didn’t hug; we’d rather joke. “The one thing the doctor didn’t touch on was whether or not I get to keep my thyroid in a jar after this is all said and done.” She smiled at us, knowing we needed that. I never truly understood the power of my best friend's smile until that point.

This reassured me that she really was going to be OK. She was always tougher than me. For the first time in almost two years, I caught a faint hint that I would be OK, too. If she was going to take her body back, I was going to take mine back, too. Libby would go through treatment and would eventually have surgery to have the cancer removed. With her treatment, and as the cancer started to really take shape in her life, she grew tired.

Because emotions and affection are hard for us to share with one another, letting Libby know how scared I was was never really an option. I would get so mad about why this was happening to her, and frustrated that I literally couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t take her cancer away from her.

It was on one of my hardest days when it finally hit me. I left the gym in tears earlier on, and I messaged Libby to see if she was around. She picked me up from campus to go home; I asked her how she was feeling. “You know, today, I’m actually feeling really good.” I fought back tears harder than I ever had. I felt so relieved, so revived.

The next day, I vocalized for the first time that I needed help with my health. I was going to take my body back, and it was my best friend’s cancer that told me I could do it. I spent less of my time at the gym and more time with Libby and Courtney. We made the point of having dinner together almost every night.

After that, my bad days became few and far between. It was my love for my best friend and the love that I received back that brought me back to the shore.

Only sometimes I wade in the water of the old me; I float on my back and tell her that I’m sorry – I’m sorry for what I put us through.

Cover Image Credit: Abby Williamson

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything

They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.

When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.

Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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To All Lawmakers, Keep Your Laws Off My Body

My body, my choice.


This past week, Ohio and Alabama received a lot of attention in the media after bold decisions were made regarding abortion laws in these two states. Alabama has signed an extreme abortion ban into law which gives no exception for even rape or incest. Women and doctors could end up facing 99 years in prison for performing an abortion in this state. In most cases, rapists only serve about 6 years of jail time. This means that a woman could spend more time in jail for attempting to abort the fetus than the man who planted it inside of her. In Ohio, similar laws are being put in place that denies women from getting an abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected. However, that is only 5 weeks into the pregnancy, or one week late of a period. Most women do not even know they are pregnant at that time.

I originally was very hesitant to write this article. Not because I did not know what I thought about the issue, but rather because I was afraid what other people would think of me writing about this. I'm typically not one to post anything too political but there comes a time when something must be said.

When it comes to abortion laws, pro-life advocates often argue that the fetus could be the next Einstein or the person to cure cancer. However, the women who are going to be taking care of the child could have potentially done the same. Instead, they are often forgotten about and their lives are changed for good. There are so many women who will have to give up so much such as their education, career, and happiness as a result of the laws that are being put into place.

Furthermore, if a woman is not capable of taking care of a child at the time she gets pregnant, the child will end up being the one to suffer the most. If the woman has no option but to keep the baby, the baby has the potential of growing up in an unstable home where it will not have the resources it needs to live.

Pro-life advocates push for women to just give the child up for adoption, but that has its own set of problems. If the woman puts the baby up for adoption, there is a ginormous possibility that the child will live their entire life going in and out of our country's broken foster care system. Lawmakers should not be advocating for the protection of fetuses unless they are able to make sure the fetus will be able to grow up in a stable environment.

Putting laws to prevent abortion into place isn't going to stop abortions from happening. Instead, it is going to make women turn to hazardous practices that could end up with them harming themselves. Many people, including some pro-life advocates, have even admitted that the bills being put into place are too far.

The most amazing thing to me about the bills being signed into place is that the support for them is heavily reliant on men. It is very easy to jump behind supporting something that doesn't affect you. These men will never be able to experience what it is like to carry a child around for nine months and care for it after. That is why it makes absolutely no sense that they are able to tell women what they can and can't do with their bodies.

Being pro-choice is not necessarily being pro-abortion. It is being for women to have the freedom to do what they believe is best for themselves. A women's right to make her own choices should not be a conservative or democratic issue. It is a human issue. It shouldn't matter what the circumstances are. If a woman feels she is not ready for a child she should have the ability to do what is needed to be done. I hope that as a country we are able to take the necessary steps to prevent us from moving back in time. So to all lawmakers, keep your laws off of my body.

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