Greetings to all my favorite ladies! Please forgive me for not sending a thank-you note sooner, but the nurses at this hospital are always carting me from one place to the next, and I can never find a minute! Anyway, I just wanted to take a quick break from getting poisonous chemicals injected into my bloodstream to let you know how very, very much I appreciate the thoughtful Mylar balloon you sent me.

You guys are lifesavers. When I first came to the hospital—because I thought I had acid reflux and then, after a few tests, discovered I had advanced thyroid cancer—I didn't know if I'd ever recover. But that was before my friends, who are so incredibly considerate and kindly waited almost a month before reaching out to me at all, bought me this awesome balloon.

Suddenly I feel, like, 10,000 times better.

Just in the knick of time, too. I was about to rely on the loving support of family in combination with several rounds of targeted chemotherapy advised by my oncologist in order to fight the spread of the disease. But now, well, just look at that balloon floating around. Wheeee!

I knew I could count on my fellow teachers at Kentwood Academy to be there for me a few weeks after I needed them most. Honestly, though, I hope you weren't too put out. You really needn't have gone to all the trouble of sending me this plastic bag filled with air. Boy am I glad you did, though! It's so shiny, bobbing up and down there—I bet my cancer's going into remission already.

I'm sorry. My mistake. I said you "sent" me a Mylar balloon. That makes it sound like you went out and bought it, instead of just calling the hospital gift shop, asking what they had on clearance, paying for it out of petty cash, and having the clerk deliver it to me on her regular rounds. I just don't know what's going on in my head these days!

Oh, wait. I think the doctor called it "significant metastatic growth." But you already knew that. Which is why you sent this great balloon. Three weeks after I was diagnosed.

Thanks again!

Without it, how could I ever have found the strength to fight for my very life and for the chance to see my two young children grow up? Here I was, just lying around not trying to "Get well soon." What a helpful reminder! I can't tell you how much I owe you guys. Unless, of course, we're going by the price tag still hanging from your gift. In which case it's exactly $5.99.

My new balloon is so cheerful and buoyant, I can almost feel the cancer not ravaging my body. I love the way it hovers there, even though it's a little deflated now. It makes for a wonderful, ever-present reminder of how you just have to persevere and rise above the trouble life throws your way, no matter how bad things get. Best of all, the breeze from the air-conditioner makes it crinkle while I sleep!

You really shouldn't have. You could have just called, or all come by one evening as a group, or even just sent one person to visit at any point to represent those of you I've worked with for the past 11 years.

Look at me, yammering on about myself, and not even thinking to ask about you all. So, how are you? How is the implementation of the new attendance policy going? Mary, did you and your husband finish building your new deck? Any of you guys find out you have cancer?

Boy. A Mylar balloon. My little guardian angel hovering above my bed with its little pink string and its mirrored back side that reflects my own face back at me endlessly as I sit here with cancer. What would I do without it? Thank you so much.

You know, friends are what really matter in this life. Because when everything feels like it's falling apart, and you don't know what you're going to do or who to turn to for support—oh, and you have cancer—you can always count on your friends to expend the absolute minimum amount of effort and acknowledge your pain in the most perfunctory manner possible.

I only hope they have Mylar balloons in heaven.