Friendship Is Always Good Medicine

Oct 31, 2018

Shelia Carwile (left) and Trellis Dillon (right) are all smiles during their chemo session at USMD.

You never know when a great new friendship might be forged. You might meet your lifelong best friend on the first day of grade school, during a college class, at work—or sitting in a chemo chair fighting for your life against breast cancer.

Shelia Carwile and Trellis Dillon probably wouldn’t have met otherwise, but they bonded during their three-hour chemo sessions every two weeks. “We had the same doctors, so we began to compare notes and just started talking,” Dillon recalls. “Shelia’s a delightful, happy lady. I always tell her, ‘I wish I had a lot of spunk like you,’ and she tells me, ‘Oh, you got it.’”

Carwile, is equally fond of Dillon. “Trellis is amazing,” she says. “We are polar opposites, but we bonded instantly because we knew what each other was going through. And that’s the difference. People can love you and support you, be there for you, and be good to you, but until they’re sitting in a chair with chemo going into their port, until they’re lying on a table being radiated or having their boobs cut off, they don’t know what it feels like—not only physically, but emotionally. It’s an instant camaraderie that’s even stronger than the massive camaraderie I always felt when I was in the military. I knew Trellis understood what I was going through, and I knew what she was going through.”

Having someone else in the foxhole with you can be a real comfort.

“I know she’s had it rough like I did,” says Dillon. “It’s just good to be able to sit there and talk to someone who’s going through the same thing.”

“When we greeted each other, we could smile and say, ‘So how’s your fatigue? Oh my god, you laid on the sofa all Saturday and Sunday too?’ We’d just laugh,” says Carwile. “Trellis would ask, ‘Did you make it to the mailbox without running out of steam this week?’ We’d just laugh because we completely knew what that was like. We knew what each other’s neuropathy felt like. I knew that the bottom of her feet felt numb like the bottom of my feet. Her hands would tingle when mine would. Our hair fell out at the same rate. It’s just a whole other world, and it means a lot that someone knows what it’s like.”

The two women have supported one another throughout their treatment milestones.

“Dr. Jones didn’t realize that we had developed a friendship until I went to visit Shelia in the hospital and brought her a little bouquet of flowers right before she went into surgery to have her breast tumors removed,” Dillon says. “Dr. Jones had performed my breast surgery too, and when she saw us together she said she thought it was awesome that we’d become friends.”

On Dillon’s last day of chemo, Carwile took her flowers and they had a little celebration. Although both women have completed their treatments and are doing well, they keep in touch.

“Now we’re going through the ‘after treatment’ with each other,” Dillon says. “We text or call or send pictures to one another to see how each other is doing and show how much our hair’s growing. It’s just been good to be able to help each other get through all the different treatment sessions and recovery we’ve had to go through.”

Along with expert medical care, Carwile and Dillon prove friendship really is good medicine, too.

If you have questions or concerns about breast cancer, the caring team at USMD Breast Health Center are here to help you every step of the way. Call us at 1.888.444.USMD.