Lessons I’ve Learned From My Friend Who Has Cancer

Teenage boy giving piggyback to teenage girl --- Image by © Biscuit Eight LLC/Corbis

My Best Friend has osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. He was diagnosed in July and for the most part hasn’t had serious issues with his treatment. He’s still the same goofy best friend I knew before he was diagnosed. But the thing is, I’m not the same anymore. I’m terrified, anxious and worried for him and his health. This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to go through. And people can say “Oh boo hoo, you aren’t the one stuck in a hospital bed getting treatment.” You’re right. I’m not the one getting drugs infused in my body every other week, but I’m heartbroken for him that a 20 year old has to face something like this in his junior year of college.

We schedule all of our classes together. Seriously three out of five of them. We lived in the same dorm and would walk to the caf at 7:20am every morning before our 8 am class together. I would eat dinner with him and his brothers at least twice a week. He’s like a brother to me. All of the Beta Theta Pi’s are on our campus. We would all go out every single weekend together. He and two of his brothers scooped me up off the floor after a breakup, handed me a beer and tortilla chips, and sat me in the middle of their room and let me cry while chugging a beer. So when I got a text while in the car on the way to Myrtle Beach saying he wouldn’t be returning this semester, I didn’t know what to do or say.

His cancer is in his knee and thankfully has stayed in one place. While it hasn’t been an easy journey, he has stayed extremely upbeat and positive. He even just got elected President of the Student Union, or the student body on campus. But as much as he relies on me for positivity and to not talk about cancer or what’s going on sometimes, I’ve relied on him all since July to teach me to be a better person. I never thought that there would be a semester where he wouldn’t be here. But even though he isn’t here, I’ve learned a lot about myself and how to look at life a little differently.

You cannot look at tomorrow and your planner and groan. I’m sure you have fifty thousand things to do. We all do. But that doesn’t meant that tomorrow is going to be the worst day of your life. Tomorrow might be the best day! Who knows? Maybe you’ll buy a lottery ticket and win a million dollars on a whim or you’ll meet the man of your dreams and turn into Cinderella when the clock strikes midnight. Regardless, you can’t look at everyday as a list of things you just need to get through. Going through the motions is a waste of time. I’m sure my best friend would love to be sitting there doing everything he possibly could cram into a day, and he can’t right now. So don’t just sit around and watch Netflix everyday because it’s raining and you’re bored. Get outside and go do something.

Being patient and waiting is one of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn in life. Have I mastered it yet? No, absolutely not. But, I have a better appreciation for waiting for things. The number of days it takes waiting to hear if a doctor has called him back yet or waiting to hear the best news that he’s being released a day early from the hospital; it’s not easy to be patient. It’s not easy when you just want someone to be healed right away and you wish that you could take away any pain. Cancer is a waiting game: the deadliest and most frustrating game life could ever play on someone. I’ve learned though that as annoyed as I am about waiting to hear how he’s doing and wishing his doctors would hurry the heck up, he’s just as frustrated. You have to take a step back and realize that things take time and to be more understanding and especially when he’s frustrated about it, there’s no reason for me to be. It just adds to stress that he doesn’t need to deal with.

And I think the biggest thing I’ve learned throughout this entire journey is to be thankful for every single day that we’re given. You honestly can’t predict what tomorrow is going to bring. There’s never a way of knowing what could happen a month from now. I never thought that my best friend would be sitting in the hospital for a week at a time going through chemotherapy. It can easily be me or any of our other friends in a similar position at any time, and you just can’t take life for granted. The things that every college student complains about especially me, like not wanting to go to class just because I have a headache or not wanting to do homework because I’d rather go to bed early are things I’ve learned I need to stop whining about. Stay up late, and strive to be the best you can because someone else is counting on you to do that.

I never thought I would ever write an article like this. But i’m thankful for our friends who constantly make sure that we’re all surviving, and most importantly, supporting him. He’s been kicking this tumor’s ass like no one else could. Because out of any of us, he’s the strongest and I’m so lucky to call him my best friend.


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