With A Little Help From My Friends

Today I am celebrating another year of friendship with my “Wine Club” girlfriends. As a tradition, we have a Christmas party this time of year including our partners and join in the festivities of the silly season. What I’ve learnt over the length of our friendship is that no one escapes hardships in their lives. We all have them and each of us has experienced a time when we have needed a shoulder to cry on; life can be really tough at times. Yet through it all, we support each other without judgement and we are always there for each other.

I think that it is safe to say that you cannot underestimate the value of good friendships at all times in your life but especially during hard times. I know that my cancer journey definitely highlighted the importance of good friends and I really appreciated the opportunity to comprehend just how valuable true friends are.

It is always easy to be a fair-weather friend, asking for favours when you need them, catching up with friends when it suits you and on your terms but hard times can be really testing for friendships. There’s a quote that says “Hard times reveal true friends” and in many ways I agree with this but not entirely. I think that friends who have always been selfish will continue to be selfish when you become sick and that will be the perfect opportunity for their true colours to be exposed. But sickness can also have a frightening effect on very dear friends. Some friends who absolutely love you to pieces are so heartbroken in finding out about your sickness that they are in nearly as much shock as you and genuinely may not know how to react.

I know that in speaking to many people after my cancer, I have learnt that they were really concerned about me but they honestly weren’t quite sure how to help me at the time and just assumed it was space and healing time that I needed. The healing time is definitely needed but there is a lot to be said for the small gestures that never go unnoticed. Some of my dear friends just dropped a meal to my family without even asking (because of course I’d have said no I’m fine). Others gave me gifts that were totally unrelated to healing but made me feel loved and amazing. I also received the most beautiful cards and messages of complete and utter love and care and knowing you are loved has an amazing impact on your recovery.

I’ve had many people since my sickness turn to me for advice when people dear to them have become ill. It shone a light on something I hadn’t realised people must have been going through while I was sick. They wanted to know how they could best support their loved one and it gave me a pang of empathy for all those dear friends of mine who probably didn’t know what the hell to do when I was sick and I was oblivious to it all. I know now that they weren’t neglecting me, they just didn’t know what to do.

I think the most important thing to do when someone becomes sick is not to distance yourself. Yes, it is confronting to see a friend go through something you are really emotional about seeing but put yourself in their shoes for a second. No one wants to go through sickness and feel like they have been abandoned because people don’t know what to say or do. Express your love to that person and be directed by them. If they want to talk about it, let them talk about it but if they don’t, still be there as their friend. Don’t victimise them, still crack the funny jokes you always cracked.

There is nothing worse than being treated differently or awkwardly. I wanted to be included in things, not left out because people assumed I would be too sick to participate. I think it is important to always touch base with that person and let them be the decider of whether they are up to activities or not. Text messages are such an easy way to communicate these days and easy for people who are sick. It would be such a shame for a dear friendship to ruined or tarnished by lack of communication.

I guess the crucial point I’d like to share in all of this is – Don’t fall into a bawling heaps of self-sadness about their illness to them (that’s making it all about you and while you’re entitled to have those moments, do them privately). Let them know how it has affected you because that shows them how much you truly care. After they recover, they will remember and cherish you more than you know.

So as I reflect on my sickness, I don’t criticise anyone in my life. I was blown away by the outpour of love and affection. In fact, people I didn’t expect to hear from, I did. I know that people who have experienced grief or illness before are more at ease approaching others going through hardship. Yet everyone experiences things at different times of their lives and no one should be expected to react the same way as someone else to something that is foreign to them. I now truly understand that there were people who didn’t know how to react and respond to my illness and I love them no less.

In keeping with the friends theme, I was recently gifted out of the blue this amazing, gorgeous and affordable summer dress from a family friend I haven’t seen in a while. What a beautiful gesture! Blue has always been my colour and whenever I put on something blue, I feel amazing! My friend bought this dress from an affordable, online fashion shop called Shabby Sisters and there are some lovely, affordable options for breastless women at this online shop.

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Arly Off the Shoulder Dress from Shabby Sisters

Another blue dress I feel amazing in is this Dotti maxi dress which is feminine, summery and fun. I know I’m featuring lots of off the shoulder items at the moment but they really suits and I can’t get enough of them at the moment while they are on trend. They too will pass but while they are in season, please bear with me. There will be more variety to come, I promise.

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Have a wonderful week preparing for Christmas with your families.

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I am breastless and beautiful.

Love, Gen

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