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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_.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Racheli Alkobey moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi Crystal! This is such a RELATABLE topic. I totally relate to every single word. I was diagnosed when I was 21 and also went pretty public with my experience thus creating “cancer friends” — some of who were actually bridesmaids in my wedding!! The bond is unexplainable and unbreakable. There is also the fact that I’ve lost people as well but grew closer by reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken to in years. I consider cancer to be by strainer of showing me who is supposed to be in my life long term and that is honestly one of the things that I am most grateful for when it comes to my diagnosis. Thank you so much for speaking my truth and being an advocate. <3

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    I do think it’s important to share with others – both your story and advice. I didn’t share my story and missed out on a lot of support. I do share advice and wish I had someone I could have asked advice of. With that being said, we all must travel our own journey and focus on getting well. Having family and good friends will definitely help with the healing process.

  • MaryW
    3 months ago

    GREAT article Crystal! I chose to go share my cancer with my family and friends as well as on Facebook because I figured losing all my hair would make it pretty public anyway but I also felt that in this large world of cancer I had a little responsibility in putting a face to living with and treating the disease. I wear my bald and bald head proudly because it represents that we are not done figuring this cancer thing out! I agree that it is not a club at anyone of us would choose to belong to but since we must it is an awesome group to be supported by.

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    What a great reply!

  • lievie007
    3 months ago

    Great article. I fully agree with going public being helpful. I know it isn’t for everyone, but I was not afraid or ashamed to lay it all out there. For me the reason was that I did not have support from my family. My mother, being a Christian Scientist gave me a bible and told me to pray it better. “If you can’t pray it away, you are not meant to be here” was the last conversation I had with her five years ago. “What about my daughter, she is only seven and needs her Mom”. “Stop this nonsense, You don’t have cancer” is what she said. I stepped away from that relationship which had been toxic for many years. My cancer buddies are very special to me as well. I tell people when I meet them “Whether you like it or not, you are now part of my family” And I am happy to say I have a great Big family full of support :>)

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    I’m so sorry you didn’t have the support of your mom, but am happy you’ve found support from others.

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    3 months ago

    You Rock Crystal! 🙂

  • bluchs
    3 months ago

    Nice prospective Crystal !
    I also learned some new things about myself.
    I also found some old friends, from over 40 years ago, who came to my rescue ( On Line ) on Facebook, go figure and that is wonderful.
    I had some friends that surprised me by being here for me, that I did not expect to be here.
    And I lost some friends, that I thought would be here, but have not been?
    Plus, YES I have found some new friends here on line, who also have in common Cancer, Not a club any of us want to be in, but we are in it, and we are not alone.
    When I was first diagnosed, I was very depressed, and very worried, one of My sons friends, had just beaten Cancer, We were at my sons house for his oldest daughters high school graduation party, Mike.
    Mike came up to me and said ” Brad you are not alone, what is ahead for you will scare you, but you are now in this club with me, like it or not”
    Call me if you ever need anything.
    Wow! I did not expect that!
    Although, I never did call him, but I think about him, and I Pray for him all the time, My son tells me he is OK, but he remains very depressed a lot of the time, thinking his cancer may return?
    My family, like yours of course, has been here for me, especially my most wonderful son.
    My sons mother, my X wife, we have been divorced for 37 years, I got custody of our son when he was just 2 years old.
    But we always remained cordial, for our son, and friends, I always thought.
    Well Go Figure, She has been one of my best friends through all of this, she calls me every week, she sends me love notes and cards, praying for me!
    So I guess that could be a blessing? She was the love of my life, if only we could go back in time??
    I agree, that there is something special about all of us, who have, or are going through this disease.
    I do look to the advice and experiences of those who have gone before me, and I Pray I am able to help those that follow.
    Thank You for sharing Crystal

  • Ann Harper moderator
    3 months ago

    What an inspiring response!

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