Where Did My Friends Go?
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Profile photo of Nicole Russell

It’s funny how life moves so fast, yet when you are diagnosed with a disease as devastating as lung cancer, it seems the world stops initially. Before I was diagnosed, I really thought that I had a great circle of friends and I really trusted those friends, all to be disappointed months after my diagnosis. We all have those friends that we have had for years, maybe decades, those friends we expect to be there through the thick and thin. Well, some of those friends of mine decided that that thick was just too difficult for them.

After everyone found out about my diagnosis, of course, the flood of love comes in, everyone wants to see me, make meals or help in some way. But as time went on, that love slowly stopped coming in. Evidently, all of my family and friends thought that I was going to die and quick. The offers were gracious, overwhelming at times but they were what friends do for a friend in a time of need. I never knew that those friends would just stop calling and contacting me.

The Effects of Cancer Can Be Invisible to Others

We all know with lung cancer, there are medications such as targeted therapies and immunotherapy that can treat us as patients and we can live a semi-normal life. We don’t look sick, we may not even feel sick all of the time, but we still deal with side effects and the mental difficulties of having a terminal disease. On the outside, I guess my friends decided either they didn’t want to have to feel bad for me since I am terminal or they see pictures of me and think that I have beaten cancer and I don’t need them around. Whichever reason it is, it has really made me realize who those real friends are. It isn’t the friend I have had since 2000, the one that I thought was one of my “best” friends. How do I know this? Well, I received maybe one or two texts in the last 16 months from her. In a recent communication, I responded to a text from her and told her that I felt like she was not a real friend and that her claims about being busy and not having her phone most of the day were lame for our friendship.

Realizing What Is Truly Important

I have friends I have only known for a few years that throughout the last 16 months have consistently checked on me weekly, some almost daily. Those are the friends that I want in my life, not the ones that are either scared of the “C” word or those that don’t even speak to me enough to realize I fight this disease on a daily basis and that I will never truly beat it as I am stage IV. I’ve been through the worst 16 months of my life and it has made me truly realize what is important, who is important and how to live my life moment by moment. I am just sorry that some of my friends that I thought would come for this ride with me bailed.

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