'We have been friends together in sunshine and shade.' — Caroline Norton

Adrienne is my oldest friend in the world. Not that she’s old — I’m older by 11 months — but we’ve known each other the longest. We met, I believe, when she was 2 and I was 3, when both our families moved to Howard Street, across the street from each other.

It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

From the beginning, though, it was clear that we were different. I was quieter, loved reading and playing dolls. She was sassier, wanting to run after the boys and push boundaries.

And so we built forts in the woods behind her house. We recruited a third girl in the neighborhood and played "Charlie’s Angels,” with Adrienne and I, both brunettes, fighting over who got to be Jacqueline Smith. Everyone knew she was sexier than Kate Jackson. I got to be Kate a lot.

We came and went from each other’s houses like we lived there, chose where to eat dinner by which mom was serving the best meal that night and slept at each other’s houses as much as our own.

It was with Adrienne that I first listened to Meatloaf’s “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” and because of her that I first got in trouble for throwing a party when my parents went away (she invited about 40 people over, without telling me, then swept the beer caps under the throw rug during clean up. Busted.)

I was the goody two shoes to her wild child, the older sister she never knew she wanted, lecturing her on the dangers of booze and bad boys, both of which she had a taste for.

But despite my lectures, she was always there when it counted, whether it was visiting me at college after a break up, or serving as my bridesmaid.

But she was no pushover.

She was a scrapper, willing to tell people off, push for what she wanted, push back on people who pissed her off.

She was a fighter.

She’ll need all that fighting spirit now, as she faces her greatest battle: pancreatic cancer.

Her text a couple of weeks back rocked me.

“Are you coming down anytime soon?” she wrote.

“Yes, next week!” I answered.

“I was just diagnosed ...,” she wrote back, and it took my breath away.

On Monday, we spent most of the day together, catching up on the lost years, the missed memories. I brought her a “badass” necklace, to remind her how tough she’s always been.

In between, she shared details of her diagnosis: How they thought it was a gall bladder attack. How she found the right experts to treat her. How she was doing with chemo.

And there were more personal thoughts: How brave her kids were being, how young they still are, how much parenting she still needs to do.

She’s not done yet, and so she will beat this cancer. There is no other option.

“Someone has to raise these kids,” she said.

It’s part hope, but mostly a promise:

She will fight and she will win, and cancer will know it picked on the wrong girl.

Laura Dolce can be reached at Laura.Dolce@rocketmail.com.