Without question they, friends, are one of the most important parts of your life. I truly believe that. And I thought that I should write you all to do a couple of things, remind you of that fact and let you know what a major difference you friends can make in your friend’s life.

The past month or so I’ve had the pleasure of getting back out and doing one of my favorite things in the world: speaking to students. And a part of my presentation most times involves a session where I explain to the audience that I have one rule when having question and answer sessions you can ask me anything.  And I’ve had some students challenge that rule, but to date I’ve handled them all. Throughout the course of my Q&A sessions I’ve had some questions about friends, specifically what did they think when I was diagnosed, how did they react, how are they now.

I can only ever answer those questions from my side of the equation, I’m sure many of them would have different answers. The reality from my perspective is that I have been blessed with a select few fantastic friends who have been a great means of support for me throughout my challenges. And while that support was there, it wasn’t always handy to me and in the form I wanted and I can say with confidence that the transition to realizing and accepting that was and still is one of the more significant elements of my cancer challenges.

When you face a challenge as I have, the obvious things are the things that get attention: loss of weight and hair, low energy, and generally feeling like crap. Those challenges get lots of air-time, but the things you can’t see, the intangible stuff is often overlooked. I can tell you that one of the more significant elements of my challenges has been the social adjustment to the new person I am on the other side of those challenges and to the new life that I felt was natural to create for myself.

I consistently speak about the influence of getting sick at the stage of life I was when diagnosed. I had just left university and while sick it the first time I was essentially out of the loop for 18 months. Upon my return, or attempted return, to the loop I learned a bunch of key things. One, my life had progressed in a very different direction, that was obviously to me throughout the process of dealing with my challenges. However the second element was a more shocking discovery. Everyone else’s life had gone in different directions too. Some of my friend’s lives met up with mine after those 18 months, others didn’t connect so well. Such is life. But that part of life is tough to work through sometimes. And I feel it’s complicated by the stage of life I was and am in. The discovery of that challenge has become a focus of mine and it is something I hope that RTC will help others deal with as we grow and evolve as an organization.

Meeting new friends or connecting with existing ones is easy when you are in the sandbox playing with your Tonka’s, but it gets a little more complicated when you are finished university and supposed to be an “adult,” whatever that is.

Someone said that if you have had one true friend then you have lived a blessed life (or something like that). And I have to say that I believe that is spot on. Have you ever thought about your life without all your current friends? How about if you had to go out and make all new ones, would you be up for that? How would that make you feel? Pretty uncomfortable feeling for most of us I think.

I don’t have any dear friends that have been friends since the sandbox but I am blessed with some friends who mean as much to me as anyone possibly could. And I have to tell all of you people out there who are friends to another: you can make such a difference in another’s life. We’re not talking about performing miracles here; just being a true, honest, good friend is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give someone.

So as we get geared up for another run at the Stanley Cup, or another series of the Bachelor, or whatever you’re into, make sure you reach out and get the boys/girls together and play with your Tonka’s.

Live life. Love life.


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