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How My Cancer Diagnosis Led to a Loss of Friends

My story of lung cancer was difficult enough. Little did I know that several of my closest friends would abandon me after my diagnosis.

Cancer Diagnosis & Loss of Friends

I never thought I'd lose friends when I was diagnosed with cancer.

I never thought I'd lose friends when I was diagnosed with cancer.

Learning Big Lessons through Pain

I have tried to write this story for the last five years, but I just wasn't ready. It is still difficult to talk about, but feel I've come to a point in my journey where I need to get it off my chest. I believe putting off writing about this experience means admitting what I tried to ignore for years. It also brings back so many different feelings. Feelings of pain, loss, sadness, abandonment, shame, low self-esteem, and many other emotions.

My story of lung cancer was difficult enough, but little did I know that with illness can come loss of friends. I say "friends," of course, tongue and cheek—because this experience taught me that the people who walked away from me were never truly my friends.

I know details don't really matter, but at the time this happened, they consumed me. I went over and over them to try to make sense of it all. The three friends who abandoned me were all women I hung out with the last several years of my life. Two of the three resided in my apartment complex. Two of them were long-time friends I considered deep soul mates; friends I could trust to share my deepest secrets with. We had our ups and downs through the years, but I truly believed they loved and cared about me.

I was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004—although I never smoked—and I was really terrified. I knew I had God, great family and friends, and all the support in the world. I never questioned losing friends, let alone the friends that I considered to be my best friends. Yes, cancer is a life-threatening illness, but the abandonment of dear friends was devastating.

I was in the biggest fight of my life. Every day for the next several months was a whirl-wind of doctor appointments, surgery, chemo-therapy and radiation. In the craziness of these days, I wasn't noticing what was missing. It was those people I thought were my dear friends. I figured it out in the following ways...

Lung Cancer Journey

Posing with family in 2004 during my fundraiser

Posing with family in 2004 during my fundraiser

The First Friend to Abandon Me

I remember being on the computer to help organize the fundraiser my dear family was planning for me. I went into my email box and noticed a message from one of my good friends. Sorry to be graphic, but I was going from computer to the bathroom, as I couldn't keep much down anymore from the aggressive chemo they were giving me. I felt excited to check out an email from the friend that seemed missing from my life. This is what it read: "Linda, how dare your family have a fund raiser for you. I was there when you got the letter in the mail that put you on Medical Assistance for your illness. You do not deserve a fund raiser and it is wrong that your family give you a fund raiser." The rampage on the email continued, but I think you get the point. She ended the email however, by telling me she would be calling later to talk to me and that she would not participate in this deception. Between running to the bathroom to be sick from chemo and lying in bed, crying from the pain of abandonment, I wanted to die. I called my twin sister at work and told her about the email from my so-called friend. Knowing how sick I was, and now hearing me so upset about this, she came right home and took care of the situation. When so-called friend called, Laura was ready to deal with the craziness. You can imagine how the conversation went, dealing with a twin sister that is hurt for her spurned twin sister. What I will say, is she told her never to call again and that we want nothing to do with her. My so-called friend told Laura, "How dare you have a fundraiser for her. You will be sending her to jail for fraud, and she's very sick because of the cancer and chemo and won't do well there."