The Bond of a Cancer Best Friend
The Story of Shauna and Rosalina
Cancer best friend: a person that you met on your cancer journey that you share your experience with, and someone you can truly lean on for whatever you need during your cancer experience.
We often place more focus on sibling—or parent—relationships when talking about cancer diagnosis and treatment and how they provide support, but we don’t talk as much about the immense importance of friendships.
Friendships during a cancer diagnosis are game-changing. Friendships allow individuals to adjust to the changes cancer brings, have a more positive outlook, and often report a better quality of life. Friendships that are forged as a result of a cancer diagnosis can be some of the strongest bonds, as such a small number of people truly know what a cancer patient is going through. This is the case for Rosalina and Shauna, two best friends on opposite sides of the country who are now best friends after meeting through their cancer diagnoses.
Cancer Best Friends: Shauna and Rosalina
Shauna and Rosalina, both diagnosed with hormone-positive breast cancer before age 35, met through a Facebook support group where both had an intense desire to start a podcast to share their cancer experience.
“What I’ve learned [breast cancer] happens more in older women and not necessarily younger women. I felt really alone, and then I just woke up the day after my mastectomy surgery and thought, I’m sick of being angry and feeling alone.
I joined all these Facebook support groups and posted to each, sharing my story and asking if there’s anyone out there around my age that has a similar experience and wants to be a co-host of a podcast with me.
I met Shauna, and I felt like when we did our first zoom meeting together, I just thought that we clicked automatically. I kept thinking about Shauna for like the next couple of days and finally realized she would be a perfect fit for this podcast, and she is so. I’m super glad to have met her.”
Too Young For This Sh*t
Together Shauna and Rosalina started the podcast ‘Too Young For This Shit’ with the mission to bring awareness of breast cancer to young women and create a supportive space where no one is alone on this journey. In episodes, they dive deep into their treatment plans, journeys, struggles, and mental health as they navigate life in their “new” normal.
Even though they are on opposite sides of the country, they have been there for each other and have learned from each other along the way.
“I don’t think I could do it without her. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without her. We are such a good team, we have gone through our cancer journeys together, even on different chemo regimens, and we still had each other’s backs throughout the entire time. We are always texting and on the phone. I’m crying. She’s crying. I try to be super funny at certain times where she is super serious.”
What Shauna and Rosalina Taught Us
A few pieces of advice that we learned from Shauna and Rosalina on what friendship means during a cancer experience include:
- Laugh together: Be humorous and funny in the right situations and when needed. A funny story, meme, or joke can help lighten the mood and make your friend’s day.
- Allow space for all emotions (including sadness and frustration): Be a safe and open space for your friend to feel whatever emotion they need to express. Do not steer away from uncomfortable topics or emotions.
- Talk about topics other than cancer: Your friend is still the same person they were before their diagnosis. Ask about interests, hobbies, or other topics they enjoy. Do you both enjoy a podcast, book series, TV show? Talk about your shared interests to allow them to take a break from talking about their cancer.
- Ask permission: Asking is always a good place to start. Ask how they want to be supported that day. If they are up for a visit, ask if you can ask questions or talk about certain topics. More important than asking is to ask in a way that your friend knows that saying ‘no’ is a totally valid and acceptable answer.
Learn more about cancer best friends Shauna and Rosalina on our podcast, The Support Report with b-present.
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