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Jasmina Tesanovic Headshot

Xeni

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When I travel around the world, one of my biggest joys is to meet with my girlfriends of all colors, ages and types. Living on different sides of the world, we spend "quality" time together, since we lack the quantity. In a few hours, we tell each other our lives.

Our everyday lives, on those occasions, get a new edition, a translation. These are therapeutic, cathartic friendships, for the teller and the listener. There's no time for petty calculation: Is this the real truth, dare I say this, will she understand me? There is no other chance, no time for delay, Paganini non ripete -- if not now, when?

And so you seize the moment, search for the words, and you realize that a whole life can indeed be narrated in two hours. Even better, it must be, since when you must, you must: like a physiological need. Thinking, sympathizing, a compact digest...

That takes a toll, however. After that, you go back to your shrine of solitude where you digest for months on end the words and deeds of moments.

This time, I will tell about my bridesmaid Xeni from Los Angeles. We met by chance when she was interviewing my American friend and I was sitting next to them silently. Then during a pause Xeni turned toward me and asked me in that typical American polite way: How are you doing?

And I answered, without thinking twice, in that typical rude Balkan way: I feel like shit! At that point instead of fleeing away from me as most Americans would, she started asking me questions. I spilled the beans. We never stopped communicating since then.

What to say? We became friends, speaking our hearts, emotionally and professionally, too. We spoke of love, past, genocides, gossips, name it...

She was the most beautiful bridesmaid in Los Angeles County when she arrived at the security check in her shiny black boots and outfit full of alarming metal, with the tall handsome black judge smiling at her all the time. Great team for such a tense moment: It's much easier when the wedding fuss is shared by someone else: You just pronounce that crucial "yes" and off you go!

Well, my bridesmaid Xeni discovered she had breast cancer. Which was in her body God knows how long and which she had to cure immediately, and with hardcore therapy. This went on for months, according to the medical protocol. But she underwent it publicly, taking thousands and thousands of her readers, fans and friends with her to the clinics, labs scans, using Twitter, Instagram, blogs, survival without any shame or censorship. (@xeni, boingboing.net)

We saw her lose her hair, we saw her medical scans, eating marijuana cookies, crying in pain, hugging her mom and kissing her boyfriend... All those moments one goes through in these situations and wants to forget as soon as possible. In her case, they became unforgettable since they circled the whole world, with huge support of her friends, faraway fellows in trouble, who wanted to help, to learn, as well as make a case for all those women who were there in that sorrow, or will go there some day.

After her experience nothing will be the same, since she managed to make out of an intimate tragedy a public polemic and even a funny story... In any case an ordinary story, without the stigma of sickness and shame. Including the party she threw the day before she went to the hospital for her mastectomy operation. We were about 20, all in all, in a Californian vegan Ethiopian restaurant, and besides her family most of those present were patients, cancer survivors, women she met though Internet and through her story, women who were in the same boat.

I must tell you that it was one of the happiest parties I ever attended, charged with emotions and wisdom. Even though we spoke in detail about illness, how it comes and goes, not one person left that table unhappy.

We were all tremendously moved, yes, but Xeni, the very next day, immediately sent us extensive messages about her long operation and rapid recovery: what she saw, felt, dreamed and feared. Thanking everybody and everything for her chance to breathe again, see the view, live the life.

I am writing this because I know how many women are fearful, lonely and despairing in sickness. So, women from all over the world, you should know: We can do better than that, I dare say WE MUST.

For more by Jasmina Tesanovic, click here.

For more on cancer, click here.