Two of my friends have undergone radical mastectomies. One of them is more alive than ever, completing her “bucket list” at the speed of light, while exhausting the rest of us.

The other seems stuck in defining herself by her cancer and is slow to move past her surgery to the place where she finds a renewal of life in her relationships and is able to scatter joy in the lives of others.

Another friend, Doris, who has endured the heartache, loss and pain of losing her only son in a tragic accident recently told me she believes life is much like a grape; it is in the crushing that the good stuff comes out!

Her comment reminded me of the children’s story of the Velveteen Rabbit and how he became “real” when his whiskers were worn off, his fur was matted and spotty and he had been loved so long he could not even remember when his nose was pink.

Like the Velveteen Rabbit, Doris and my bucket list friend have been able to grow through the experience of their pain and are two of the most vibrant, caring, compassionate and loving women I know.

The other has turned inward and spends most of her time at home talking about ailment and seems far worse for wear than “real”.

I may not know exactly how I would respond to a radical mastectomy but would like to think I’d fall somewhere in the middle of my two friends reactions and, in time, like Doris be able see the promise of Romans 8:28.

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