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I Lost Friends After My Diagnosis, But Gained Perspective

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When I was younger, I thought I had found the best friends I could have. But something always felt off. I never felt like I was a part of the pack. I didn’t feel cool enough, pretty enough, athletic enough, or artistic enough. I always felt like the second choice with them. But society told me that they were my best friends and I was never strong enough to challenge that notion, so I tried my best and gave the friendship my all.

But then I got sick. I was diagnosed with psuedotumor cerebri in April of 2017. I did not want to tell anyone about the constant pain and certain blindness that came with the disease. Eventually, my extended family found out and so did some of my close friends from school. However, I did not tell this group of girls who were supposedly my friends for life. I was even enrolled in a clinical trial, and I still did not tell them. When the time came to tell them about what I was going through, it was done through a text message one week before I was scheduled to have brain surgery.

They did what friends should do: they called, offered their condolences and told me they would come to visit me. One of them gave updates to the rest throughout the operation. And a day or two after the surgery, a few of them came to visit me. They brought brownies and a scrapbook.

But they all sat clustered together and laughed as they talked about the trip they were going on with the camp we went to together for eight summers straight. Once again, I was on the outside. They left for their trip, and I continued to recover. I tried to reach out a few times to some of the girls, but they were busy exploring a new place and meeting new people.

Friendship is one of the most important relationships someone can have in their life, in my opinion. Friends are there to make you smile when life gets you down, and making even the worst days so much more bearable. I didn’t know this until I made some real friends. I did not know what true friendship was until I had it.

During the summer I had brain surgery, I realized I just as worthy as anyone else, and deserved true friendship. I decided to take a break from these girls. I put more effort into my friendships from the past that had felt real. And even though we are all in different states because of college, we talk weekly.

So I left New York City, where I grew up, and moved to Columbus, Ohio for college. I made a deal with myself to do things that were outside of my comfort zone. After signing up for a camping trip, I started conversations with strangers in the lobby of my dorm. That is how I met my meant-to-be friends. And part of me knows that I had been waiting my entire life to meet them. Ironically, I never would have had the courage to meet them if I hadn’t lost most of my friends after the surgery.

My rare disease took people away from me, but it also gave me the best friends I could have asked for.

And because of that, I wouldn’t change a second of my journey.

Originally published: February 15, 2019
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