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Keep Your Friends Close and Your Cancer Friends Closer

This journey has been so eye-opening to me in more ways than I can count. I've learned a lot about myself, but also a lot about the people around me. I've always known that my family would do anything to help me but seeing first hand the sacrifices they made for me really put things into perspective. I've also strengthened a lot of my current friendships, rekindled old friendships, and lost a handful of friends who showed their true colors during all of this.

Old friends and new friends

I even made quite a few new friendships and some of these, I can already tell, will last a lifetime. I call them my cancer friends.

Most of these friendships started online after receiving messages from people who are battling cancer themselves. This is the biggest reason I'm so thankful for being public with my cancer journey. It opened me up to a whole world of other cancer survivors and I’ll forever be grateful for that. Even if you’re not comfortable sharing your journey publicly, I encourage you to try to reach out to other people who are going through something similar. It’s so refreshing to have people who understand what you’re going through.

Welcome to the club

After I was diagnosed with cancer, a friend of mine who is also a cancer survivor reached out to me and said something along the lines of, “Welcome to the club. It’s the kind of club that no one wants to be a part of, but the people here will always have your back.”

It’s true. Everyone diagnosed with cancer has such a strong, unspoken bond because nobody else fully understands what we’ve all been through like we do. It really helps so much to be able to talk to other people who know first hand what you’re going through, especially people who have a similar diagnosis and are roughly in the same stage of treatment as you.

New perspectives on treatment and coping

It also helps to have cancer friends who are further along in their journey so you can pick their brain about what to expect. Although everyone’s experience is so different during treatment, it really helped me to see different perspectives on what’s to come and how other people handled certain aspects of treatment. With that said, make sure you help others who may be slightly behind you in their treatment. They will likely have similar questions and may be looking for advice as well.

On top of all this, cancer patients and survivors are some of the most thoughtful, caring, and genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. In many ways, I feel closer to my cancer friends than I do to the friends that I’ve known for years. There’s just something so special about all of us who have been through a diagnosis and that’s why I say, keep your friends close and your cancer friends closer!

You can find me on Instagram at @CrystalHarper_.

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