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30 years young 
Started by Kait123
16 Apr 2021, 10:05 PM

My childhood best friend(still my best friend) has been diagnosed with metastasized melanoma, or stage 4. She is 30 years old, she has no children and no significant other. She has tumors on her bones, stomach, lungs, and spine. She has been getting imminotherapy treatment with no positive results. The doctor is taking her off and trying the BRAF treatment, as she is BRAF positive. She has had her bowels removed, she is declining quickly. The doctors told her she has months left, I don't know how to be her friend anymore. She is so strong and still is positive and says she is going to beat this. I am truly devastated, I am having a hard time dealing with this. I want to ask her hard questions, like cremation or burial. I don't know how to support her or be there for her and it is breaking my heart. Does anyone have any pointers?
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17 Apr 2021, 1:47 PM

Hello Kait123,
My first thought is that you are there. You may not feel you have the answers needed or are asking the right questions, but you are there for her. And you have known her for a long time - your best friend over all the years. You have probably told each other many things over the years that have not been shared with others. 

I wonder if for her, right now, it is important to be strong and positive - maybe she is not ready to talk about 'what if's'.  She may also want to protect you. Only a suggestion, but could you tell her how you feel - that you want to help, and what does she need? 

You are there for her. I think that is the best gift and support. Does she have family you connect with Kait123? 


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Reply by Mert
17 Apr 2021, 2:38 PM

KAIT123, I am also walking beside a very dear friend through the last chapter of her life.  She was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer which has now spread to other parts of her body.  I think the loss of a friend is not recognized in our world as a significant loss.  If a close family member dies we are allowed time off work and the world at least briefly treats us with compassion.  It is not recognized that a best friend is like a sister, sometimes better than a blood sister because we have chosen our friend and she has chosen us to be confidant, fun sharer, secret keeper and safe support person.  A best friend is someone who 'gets us', and the loss of that person is profound.  I understand and share your grief.

I think Katherine's suggestions make sense: to tell your friend how much you want to be there for her and ask her what she needs:  to tell her how you feel, for example sharing that you're scared, thus likely expressing the feeling she is fighting not to acknowledge.  Or perhaps chooseing your moment to say 'But what if the doctors are right?  Can we talk about a 'what if' plan so I know what your wishes are just in case?'  I have another friend who, like yours, finds it very hard to express the 'dark emotions'; her son died a few months ago and I found the best strategy with her was to be silent and wait.  This worked best if we were doing something together like a jigsaw puzzle for example, but silence seemed to work when probing just provoked a defensive reaction.  You know your friend well so I believe you will find a way.

Then it will be tearful but so much easier.  My dying friend and I have written her obituary together (many tears!), planned her memorial service and talked openly of our fears, sorrows and love for one another.  These have been some of the most painful but also the most beautiful moments in my life. Your friend is blessed to have you at her side.  Sending you a virtual hug.


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Reply by Wingman
17 Apr 2021, 2:48 PM

Hi Kait123.I am Wingman. I am named for my role throughout my best friends cancer diagnosis. My friend had no family and it was she and I against the world.
I understand where you are.The tricky part about this role is the line between strenght and fear. I too saw how the dynamic of the friendship changed when she got sick. No matter how you spun it, we it was no longer a balanced dynamic. It was all about her- her treatments and appointments and her struggles and the small celebrations that may have been had. It hard there because for me- it was also about me. My world was changing- my fears were real- but it seemed this was my private struggle as it should have been. You will find it relieving to have another person you can confide your struggles to- an outlet of some type is a treasure.
For me, I was content in my role and I followed her lead in terms of the directions of our discussions- she too was positive and never considered the alternative to becoming well although it was clear from the start that the prognosis was grave.And so I followed her lead- took advantage of the good days and stood strong in the bad days.
Truthfully I don't know how else it could have been managed- but that said it comes with challenges and hard times.Stand tall- take a breath- find some small way to seperate yourself with a moment of something you find peaceful. We all need escape.
And then stand by her side with no regrets.
In my thoughts- your story is reminiscent
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Reply by 12
17 Apr 2021, 3:04 PM

Dear KAIT123

I am so sorry to her about your friend. She is really lucky to have you by her side. I lost a close friend to cancer in 2013, and my mother in 1998. I understand how hard it is, and what a rollercoaster cancer can be. 

I really think being with her, remembering good times and sharing these with her, will be the greatest support for her. 

Your freind is staying  postive. This is really a gift that she has such strength, for herself and for you.



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