My Friend Got Cancer and I Became a Crappy Friend

April 3, 2019

In 2017 I lost my mom to cancer. That same year my best friend showed up at my son’s birthday party and told me she had cancer. The same cancer that took my mom. I was numb. I was heartbroken. I was clueless how to maneuver through grief, while also trying to support one of my very best friends.

My best friend got cancer and I became a crappy friend. Sure, I sent cards and care packages. Sure, I made it to her final chemo appointment to watch her ring the bell. But in the middle of all that, I was distant. I was MIA. I was so lost and frozen in my fear and grief that I wasn’t a good friend.

Trust me, I picked up the phone a lot. Then fear and anxiety would hit. How can you talk to someone when you have no words? I still have a card on my desk that was meant for her that I never sent. Not because I didn’t have her address. Not because I didn’t have a stamp. Because I didn’t have the words to fill that card. I didn’t have the wisdom, the strength, or the bravery to write inside that card.

I wasn’t trying to be a sucky friend. It wasn’t because I was selfish. It wasn’t because I wasn’t thinking about her or praying for her. Truth is, I was obsessively thinking about her, praying for her, and worrying about her. I had just lost my mother from the same disease that my best friend was so bravely fighting and instead of being a rockstar friend, I was lost. I was frozen. I wasn’t the friend she needed, nor deserved.

It has taken a year but I finally woke up with words on my heart that were meant for her. So, here they are in case you find yourself speechless and frozen in the midst of a friend’s diagnosis.


You are an incredible soul. You have strength. You have courage. You have bravery. Not all of us possess those things, which is what makes you such an amazing person and friend.

You don’t deserve the diagnosis that you face, but no one does. When you told me the news, I was devastated. I knew the battle you were about to face. It was the same battle I watched kill my mother. Because of that connection, I became struck with grief and fear and anxiety. It was easier to stay silent and distant than to stand with you. I’m not proud of that.

You deserved me at my best. You deserved a friend who was with you every step of the way. I wish I could have been that friend.

Ultimately, you fought like a rockstar. You conquered this nasty disease with grace, resiliency and spunk, just like you do everything else. I’ve watched you use your diagnosis to help and encourage others. You let this disease motivate you. You let this disease inspire you. You took a scary and overwhelming experience and turned it into a learning experience for everyone around you. Do you even understand the lengths of your influence?

You are incredible. That’s what the card I failed to send should have said. When I was at a loss for words it was because I was trying to say something helpful. Something meaningful. Something important. What I should have said are all of the simple truths:

You are an amazing women.

You are someone I look up to and someone others admire.

You are an inspiration. You are a leader. You’re a difference maker.

You are a brave and courageous fighter.

You are my best friend and I love you. Always.

xox, Chels

Click HERE to visit her personal blog where she shares her journey.
3 comments so far.

3 responses to “My Friend Got Cancer and I Became a Crappy Friend”

  1. April says:

    You are amazing! Thank you Chels! Love you!

  2. Mackenzie Deeker says:

    Since realizing how devastating it is to lose someone as close to you as your mother I constantly think about how I could have been a better friend to others in my life that went thru similar experiences prior to my own. It’s not that I sit here and think about who wasn’t/hasn’t been there for me during my struggle but I do constantly think about who was and has been there during it and that’s what makes me vow to do better from here on out. Also-I’m so glad your friend beat her cancer. It’s such an ugly, horrible disease that always chooses the most beautiful, wonderful people.

  3. Shenise K. says:

    It’s hard…it’s hard not to feel jealous that your mom was not the 1 – 10,000. It’s hard to watch her ring the bell, knowing your mom couldn’t. Trust me I was there. I had a friend whose mom also had pancreatic cancer. She lived with it for 6 years while mom mom didn’t make it 6 months. I was mad at God for not choosing my mom…mad at her for having a longer time with her mom….mad at her mom for enduring so long…mad at the Cancer Treatment Center of America for saying my mom wasn’t a good candidate….Just mad at the world. I’m so glad your friend survived and that you got a chance to make it right.

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A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.

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