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A Letter to My New Breast Cancer Friend, From a Two-Time Survivor

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Dear New Breast Cancer Friend,

I know your back is hurting from being sick all night. You just heard the words “you have cancer” and literally got you sick to your stomach. I know your eyes are so puffy from crying and the thought of this ever getting better seems unimaginable.

I was you.


I got the dreaded “you have cancer” phone call once in 2009 and again in 2016.

I can’t even believe I’m even calm enough to tell you all this because the minute I heard I would need chemo this time, I think I blacked out.

Radiation, losing a breast, scans and needles. Sure. Bring it. But losing my hair? Announcing to the entire world I am Cancer Girl? No. No and No.

Oh and the kicker? HER2+ so you know — it’s an aggressive cancer. Extra infusions.

New Breast Cancer Friend, may I call you “friend” because that’s what we are now, right? We are officially in the sisterhood together. I know we didn’t want to join or meet this way but here we are. Together.

I promise you one thing: you will begin to breathe in a little bit. This is all too much. The whole thing is just too much. But you will find the strength you knew you had (or maybe you didn’t think you had) because it was there all along.

You will meet amazing, courageous, lovely people along the way.

Your nurses will rock.

You will surround yourself with the best oncology team you can find because you deserve nothing but the best.

You will learn who is in your corner for the long haul.

And you will be amazed people you didn’t think cared that much will be some of your best “you got this” supporters.

I wont lie to you new, BC Friend. This all sucks. There will be days you will cry and not want to talk to anyone and sit in bed watching bad reruns. This is OK, you hear me? This is OK. Everything you do is OK. These are your feelings and you are the only one going through this. You do what you need to do to make it through the day.

But also allow others to help you. Lean on those you love.

New Friend. I am sorry. I know how utterly terrified you are. I’m 11 months out (and eight years out from the first time) and I’m still scared as all hell. I’ve learned some things along the way though, that I’m trying to incorporate into my life. Nothing that you don’t already know, but may have forgotten because life gets so busy.

Remember to breathe. In and out.

And love fiercely.

I wish you all the best in this crappy road you are about to set foot in. Take it one step at a time.

All the best,
Your friend, Cancer Girl

Thinkstock photo by peshkov

Originally published: November 15, 2017
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