They share our happiest moments and are there for our darkest days, which is why, this month, we’re celebrating the power of female friendships. We’ve collaborated with Polo Ralph Lauren, known for its timeless and enduring style, to interview eight inspiring women about their most enduring friendships. See Part One here.
“We are kindred spirits”
Journalists Briana Domjen and Elle Halliwell met as teenagers, and worked together at The Daily Telegraph. Elle was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2016, and discovered she was pregnant two days later. She is now in remission.
Elle: Briana was one of the first people I told about my cancer diagnosis. She and I are kindred spirits. We’ve known each other since we were 14, but it wasn’t until she started working at The Daily Telegraph with me about nine years ago that we became really, really close. Now our husbands are friends, and we have sons who are the same age.
Briana and I are very similar. We’re both sensitive people, and having someone who understands you from that point of view is a blessing, particularly when you’re working in a really cut-throat and stressful environment as we were. We’ve both cried in bathrooms together and helped each other through difficult times in our careers.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, we were both a few years into our respective marriages, and it was a really exciting, optimistic time. We’d spend hours talking about babies or swapping tips on what folic acid brand to use.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, we were both a few years into our respective marriages, and it was a really exciting, optimistic time
I’d had gastro so I’d gone to the doctor, and asked for blood tests while I was there. That’s when the results came back with high platelets. Two weeks later they came back high again. I wasn’t too concerned, even when it took another five weeks to get an appointment with the haematologist.
I was still in shock when I told Briana. It’s all a bit of a blur. It was so scary at first. All your hopes and dreams get ripped away with one word: cancer. You’re forced to look at your life and think: Have I done enough? Did I live the life I wanted to?
Briana was amazing. She would call me every day to check on me, and send me little texts of support.
In the third trimester, when I started taking the Interferon injections, she was my rock. When we found that she was pregnant too, and that things were looking good for me, health-wise, it was wonderful experience.
Recently, my sister-in-law, Briana and I went away for a week. Having our boys running around playing together is something I could never have imagined at my darkest point. I feel very sad for any woman who would go through life without having a connection as deep as the one I have with Briana.”
“I vividly remember the moment I found out about Elle’s cancer. She had had some funny blood test results, and I remember that, at work, we’d walk to the kitchen together and she’d tell me she felt uneasy. But I was that typical friend, and told her not to be silly, that she had nothing to worry about.
On the Thursday [the results were due] I didn’t want to bother her, so I texted her husband Nick on the way home from work. I got his message when I had stopped at a red light: “Elle’s just been diagnosed with leukaemia.” I remember pulling over at the side of the road and just howling. I think I cried all night.
We met for coffee two days later and Elle was in a daze, just hardly there.
But from then on she was just so dogged. If it had been me I would have been in the foetal position for weeks. But she was stoic. She found the best doctors, she researched everything, she found other women experiencing the same thing, and she got on with life. I don’t think everyone would have reacted this way.
She really is one of a kind. From the day I met Elle, I’ve always felt she has this aura. There’s always been something about her that other people just don’t have. She is just one of the kindest, sweetest people. Our friendship is very strong and deep – unbreakable, really, when you consider everything that’s happened.”