What does it even mean to be someone’s friend these days? It seems more and more as people get older they feel like they have some sort of loyalty to people they’ve known forever even if they have nothing in common anymore and as people start families, get engaged, work full time and things I guess they don’t get to meet new people as often as they would have at college, school and university.
I’ve had people I hadn’t spoken to in years that I never really got on with want to suddenly be friends because we had some tiny tenuous link to a common interest. I keep my circle fairly small and I’m lucky enough to be able to do that because I have those friends everyone hopes they will find, the one’s that stand by you through anything and everything and that you can get up to lots of random fun with when you’re together. Actually, most of those people don’t live close to me, which makes it even more special that we have those relationships.
I had someone say to me the other day, Why are all your close friends cancer friends? I found it to be an extremely odd question but also one that I’ve had in the past too, I have amazing friends who aren’t cancer friends but I guess I spend more time with ones that are…one of the reasons should be obvious…because we all get it, but I don’t see them as my ‘cancer friends’ there is no difference at all because that’s not why we’re close. We’re close because we get each other, our personalities fit and we understand each other’s little quirks. Let me tell you a little about my closest ‘cancer’ friends from the group I volunteer with and maybe it’ll become obvious why I aim to spend as much time with them as possible and why we make a great team when it comes to getting things done. This won’t be a list of all of them, they are all amazing in their own way, this is just the few I talk to most if not everyday.
What on earth can I say about Wen? She is my sister from another city, we’ve been close for so long it feels like forever, I can’t remember a time we weren’t friends and can’t imagine being without her. Wen is definitely the one that isn’t that great with directions and will often get me lost but it’s ok because we end up in hysterics every time. I can guarantee if I am being dramatic, nuts or just plain irrational she is going to be the one to say “Fay, are we really sure that’s how this is gunna go?” Often the answer will be no and that yes I’m being over dramatic but that’s ok because Wen is the person that will listen to my irrational thought process and totally understand how I’ve got to that conclusion, if anyone heard our weekly catch ups we’d both be sectioned, she’s about as nuts and as random as me which really helps…unless we are both being nuts, then we just end up laughing. If I needed to do something like hide a body, break into a bank…she’s the person that would have the ideas and make it happen. (Not that I’d ever do anything like that!) Me and Wen have now got to the stage where we can just look at each other and know we are thinking the same thing…but we can’t look too long because we’ll laugh, especially if we don’t agree with something. She often knows me better than I know myself and I do her…we can ask each other the questions we’d ask no one else…like am I really too quiet and am I being dramatic? I love her to pieces, she’s been through alot and I just really hope she knows that she’s incredible, despite what she sometimes thinks and she’s always gunna have me by her side to keep her going when she wants to just give up.
Jason, Jason, Jason. I’ve known Jason the longest of the group, flashback about five years to me volunteering at Billy’s House and him being on treatment and you have the making of an amazing friendship. He’s older than me and is literally like a big brother, he is the guy I will text if I have no idea what I am doing with my life and his best piece of advice has always been, “Make sure what you’re doing now is going to benefit you in the future.” Jason’s extremely intelligent and extremely good at his job but more than that he’s an incredible friend and we’ve remained friends even through his move to London to live with his now fiancé, I was so happy when he got involved in all the volunteer stuff too because he is perfect for it and I can’t tell you how proud I was when he was made a trustee of CLIC Sargent. Jason is the guy that on the surface everyone thinks is very serious and professional, but when you’ve known him as long as I have and known him so well…you know he’s quite the opposite, yes he’s an inspiration to lots of people and he’s an amazing role model but he also knows how to have fun. We can laugh and whenever I go out with him it’s always guaranteed to be a perfect time, Jason’s extremely caring and will always have my back and I will his. I couldn’t have been happier when he told me he wanted to propose to Lesley, I was so excited for him and I’ve been there through the long days at work where he’s not been having such a good time, where he’s been exhausted when he’s arrived in Nottingham for his hospital check up. The beauty of my friendship with him is we don’t hide that from each other. If I ask him how he is I know I’ll get an honest answer and I would always give him one. He’s very non-judgmental and just pretty amazing as a friend. What would I do without Jason or any of them really? I finally got to meet Lesley recently too and we get on so well! I do worry that Jason may feel a bit left out of our giggles…mostly about him, she is so perfect for him and such a lovely person, we have lots of common interests and thoughts and I’m pretty sure Jason regrets introducing us. (though it was about time!)
Bradley is the friend I never realised I needed. I always thought really solid friendships took time to build and in my experience they had because I don’t tend to open up to many but I just clicked with Brad which is amazing. The first time I met him I was a bit surprised at how confident, out there and just generally fabulous he was, compared to me he’s the opposite but it’s why we get on and actually, we’re both pretty creative. I can talk to him about anything, trust him to pick the best places for us to go out, I can text him and say, I’m going to this party tomorrow, what the heck am I going to wear? And he will have all the ideas and an outfit sorted for me in an hour. I can say to him, ‘so, I’m London on this day, what are we doing and by the way I’m staying at yours.’ He really is just lovely and although I can see why the confident, professional personality might put some people off, it never did me because he’s so kind. I can rely on him to be the one to tell me I am amazing and fabulous and strong. I love getting his little voice memos telling me about what he’s been up to, we only met earlier this year but I can honestly say in that time he’s become one of my closest friends, confidants and like a brother, he is so talented at what he does and I’m so proud of him, hearing about his work, just seeing him making connections with other people he meets through the volunteering when I know how reluctant he had been, it makes me very proud. I was lucky enough to meet his boyfriend too and am so happy that he’s with someone that is good to him, he deserves it. With Brad I can open up and I really hope he knows he can to me too. He’s one of those people that I know if I called him in the middle of the night and said I need to come round he’d be like, that’s fine, I’ll pour the wine and I hope he knows I’d do the same. Even knowing him such a short time I trust him completely and I just want him to know that I’d be here for him through anything and everything, not just to listen, but to remind him how amazing he is and kick the ass of anyone that upsets him.
My close friendship with Pete is a more recent one, we’ve known each other a good few years and only recently actually bonded and I have no idea why we didn’t before but I think it has something to do with the fact that neither of us are exactly extroverted, my friends are usually the louder ones because we balance each other out which is why I don’t get to know the quieter ones as much but finally I have with Pete. We have lots more in common than either of us realised, everything from the shows we like to watch to our thoughts on random pop culture, and we both like horror films, it’s so nice to have someone in the group with the same kind of passion for film and television as me! He’s also a bit random like me which works, we had a whole conversation the other day about the Slenderman…yes most of you won’t know what that even means but it’s ok, we do. Because we end up talking about our interests it’s meant we’ve also been able to open up to each other…and been quite surprised at the things we’ve learnt, it’s almost like meeting a brand new person because I’ve always known him and known how great he is but now I can actually tell him he’s doing amazing and if I’m having a bad day he can say the same to me. We’ve become alot more open with each other than I ever expected and it is one a bit like with Bradley that’s taken me by surprise but I’m so glad that I get to know the lovely, amazing person Pete is. It’s just made me realise how we can see someone all the time but not actually know them until we make an effort to connect. I can honestly say just from getting to know him better recently I know we’ll continue to be great friends, I’m so proud of him and without a doubt I’ll be there to pick him up on a bad day. He also keeps me pretty entertained with his shadow puppets and spaghetti cooking…yes, I just said that.
You see, cancer is what brought us together but it’s not the reason we’re close, yes we can complain to each other about various side effects and we can turn to each other on a night out and say I need to sit down and we’ll just get it without having to ask lot of questions, we can keep calm if one of us ends up being ill on the tube at rush hour (perfect timing Wen.) But it’s not the reason that I know I could call any one of them and they’d be there no matter the time of day.
I was always a little wary of becoming too close to ‘cancer people’ I met, especially with losing so many in the past but I can honestly say it is the best thing I could do and have done, take this year as an example, Brad, Jaymz, Aimee, Libby, they’ve all become my good friends through us all having cancer experience, but it’s more than that, it’s the fact that when we go out as a group, we don’t talk about cancer the whole time like everyone thinks we do, we see more than that…which sometimes is hard for other people to do.
The whole group is incredible and there are so many I haven’t mentioned simply because this would be 10,000 words! Elisha, Fran, Connor , Duncan and more. We’re from all over the country but together we are really strong. I think our experiences make us more accepting of each other, more open to the bad stuff and to talking about our fears, dreams and wishes, that’s what makes us close. When I spend time with them, it just reminds me how lucky and proud I am that I have those people in my life, how if any of them was ever having a bad time, I’d be right here cheering them on and I wouldn’t change it for the world.