Why Did My Friends Disappear?

I talk about cancer...a lot. I’ve even been told that I can be "negative." Take it as you will, but I don’t care – I get the word out anywhere that I can, any time that I can. I could imagine it can get a little "much" for some people. But there is never enough for me. It's my mission to find a cure and raise awareness.

As a result, I've lost a lot of friends.

When I first started noticing that my friends were disappearing in the midst of my son's battle, I tried to think up reasons why. Do I smell funny? (Seriously, meds do smell funny.) Did I step on your cat? Could it just be me?

I like to think that I have not changed much from the person they once knew but I know that would be a lie. I HAVE changed – I'm not the same person. I've lost my innocence and I've seen the dark side of life. Cancer is intense (seriously intense) and I think a few of my friends just couldn't handle the stress of it all. Even though it wasn't their child and it wasn't their family, it still hurt just like it was.

They had to put walls up.

We all have walls to protect our hearts, but each of us has different levels and strengths to these walls. Some can let me in with my cancer baggage and all. But other people have already had assaults on their heart, so their walls are a little shaky and already crumbling. They are hastily stacking brick-by-brick, trying to keep it together. If they were to add the weight of a sick child on top of that, the walls would crumble and that person would break down. And therefore, we are no longer speaking.

The more it happened to me and my fellow cancer fighters, the more I realized how common this issue is. I then realized I should no longer take it as an insult. Is it my fault? Nope. I just have a different focus and I'm on a different path now. Is it my friends fault? Certainly not, some friendships cannot follow along and handle this change.

Since I've seen the dark side, I hang on tight to the good in life.

I don't take my life and my family for granted. I love my friends and family even deeper now. I see the good in people and the amazing organizations that help us. I love watching kids kick cancer’s butt and watch them walk out of that hospital a victor. This is the "new normal" for me.

Of course it still hurts me that I've lost friends — it takes notches out of my armor. But just like a knight going into battle, I still wear their ribbon daily. I hang onto the good memories and the wonderful advice, laughter and friendship they have given me over the years. I've chosen to accept that they need time to regroup and time to build up their heart and soul until it is strong again.

I would like them to know that I will be here when they do, and that the door is always open if they ever want to come back.

Did your friends disappear after a cancer diagnosis? Share your experience in the comments below.