It was Thanksgiving night, and our gathering at my best friend's home was winding down after a wonderful meal, great conversation, and many laughs and smiles courtesy of her grandson. I have spent almost every Thanksgiving for the past 30 years or so with what became my other family, long ago.

We are more sisters than friends, Georgie and I. She has been there through the absolute worst and dizzyingly best times of my life. And I would like to think that in some ways, I have done the same. Her children are my children. Our lives are inextricably linked, now until the end.

That night when everyone else had departed, she encouraged me to sit and sip a glass of wine with her, so we could catch up. I had some idea, there was something she wanted me to know. But what? Finally, she quietly said it.

"I have breast cancer."

I had to make her repeat it because she sort of slipped it in between other sentences. I immediately began crying. She promptly began explaining that it was found extremely early, what the treatment would be, and that the prognosis was exceptionally good.

Georgie and "our daughter" Leah, have participated in the Avera Race Against Cancer several times. Previous to this year, it was in honor of her mother who also had breast cancer. This year it was a celebration of Georgie's survivorship, too.

If you are a fighter, a survivor, or a caregiver who could use some encouragement and support, the Avera 2019 Breast Cancer Conference is for you. It is coming up on Friday, June 14, from 9 AM to 3:30 PM at the Avera McKennan Prairie Center (1000 E. 23rd Street).

This interactive event will include hands-on activities, information on relieving stress, dealing with fatigue and fear, and advice on nutrition during treatment and after. Inspirational speaker and survivor Heidi Marble will be a big part of this uplifting conference.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided and you can register online now. The cost is whatever you can donate, with all proceeds benefiting the Avera Foundation to support cancer care for local patients.

For more information, see the event page at Avera online and on Facebook.