To have her best friends beside her through her battle against cancer was what Samantha Bell hoped for. But through her surgery and the many hospital visits, she was able to figure out who truly cared for her and would stick by her through it all, and her best friends weren’t one of them.
“I never imagined I’d have to email a group of my closest friends to tell them I had cancer, especially just weeks before my wedding. Pressing send, I felt my heart race as I wondered who would be the first to reply,” Samantha told Sarah Welsh, according to The Sun.
Some of these friends, she grew up with, and some she’d known for years, Samantha expected them to stand by her at a time she desperately needed all the support she could get. While one friend replied almost instantly, there were three others who didn’t bother to for weeks.
“…They seemingly either didn’t care or didn’t know what to say. I felt confused, bewildered, heartbroken and fuming all at once.” the 31-year-old said. “…These three girls were the people I trusted the most in the world. They were the people I’d tell first when something exciting happened, such as when I found the man I wanted to settle down with.”
After weeks of silence, one friend, Rachel, sent her a generic message. However, Samantha felt “it came across like she could barely be bothered, which really hurt.”
Later, she was forced to text another friend, Sophie, who replied back saying, “I thought I’d give you some space to process the big C.” But that only made Samantha furious, who said, “How would she know what I needed when she hadn’t even asked?”
When Samantha mentioned Nicola, another completely unresponsive friend, she said, “After hearing nothing from Nicola at all, I eventually chased her by text. She replied, blaming her silence on a chest infection and didn’t even mention my cancer. I actually laughed at the irony.”
As she prepped for a seven-hour long operation, she tried to put thoughts of her friends aside. “I was very nervous, but determined to get through it,” she said. “Checking my phone as I waited to go down for the seven-hour operation, I wondered if the girls had messaged to wish me good luck. If they’d been there to hold my hand it would have meant the world. But there was nothing, and I felt completely abandoned by them.”
Although she came out of the surgery without her friends’ support, she did get the love and encouragement of her husband and her mother.
“After the mastectomy and reconstruction, I went home to recover. I never imagined my fiancé would see me with drains to get rid of excess fluid after losing my breast, but Adam was a star. He was furious at the girls – as was my mum. She even typed out messages to them, which I asked her not to send,” Samantha went on to say. “As the days went by, though, I got angrier. I wanted to confront the girls and ask why they’d been so thoughtless when I was fighting for my life, but I just didn’t have the energy. How strange it was that some people had reacted to my cancer like it was a dirty secret, never to be mentioned, while people I’d considered acquaintances before had been amazing.”
In 2017, Samantha got married to Adam after a successful surgery. “Rachel and Sophie came to the wedding but barely spoke to me,” she added. “We exchanged mumbled pleasantries outside the church, but that was it. During the evening, I realised Nicola hadn’t even turned up. Seeing her empty chair was upsetting, and I thought of messaging her afterwards, but what was the point?”
She has enjoyed the past two years cancer-free and said, “Cancer hasn’t changed who I am, but it has made me stronger and taught me who my real friends are. I’ve never heard from Rachel, Sophie or Nicola again. I know the girls meet up with each other – I’ve seen the pictures on social media – but as Adam says, I’m better off without them.”
While the thought of unfriending them on social media has crossed her mind, she realized, “It’s not me who should feel ashamed.”
She concluded by saying, “To this day, I have no idea why they behaved the way they did. I’m lucky to have others in my life who’ll always be here for me no matter what – and for that I’m eternally grateful.”