My friend ghosted me after I told her I had cancer.

As told to Ann DeGrey 

Amanda and I shared a friendship that had weathered many storms. She had always been a steadfast presence in my life, just as I had been in hers. During her challenging recovery from a car accident, I was among just two friends who consistently supported her, often helping with her three children. She frequently expressed gratitude for my support during that time, often saying “I’ll never forget how amazing you were to help me when most people didn’t care.” 

She was a delight to be around, with a bright, bubbly personality and a sharp sense of humour. I really adored her – until I was diagnosed with cancer and she dumped our friendship.  

It was a Thursday night, and I was nervous because I’d had a 'bad result' for my mammogram and was required to undergo a biopsy. I was due to get the results on Friday morning and, with breast cancer being present in my immediate family, I felt I had good reason to be anxious. 

Amanda and I had arranged a night out for dinner which I almost cancelled due to feeling so worried, but I’d convinced myself it would be a good distraction. Instead, I left feeling very puzzled – when I told Amanda I was nervous about getting my biopsy results, she was incredibly dismissive. "It won’t be cancer. I had a lump in my breast years ago and that ended up being nothing," she said. (I did not have a lump. In fact, I had no symptoms whatsoever.) 

I hardly slept that night and, when I walked into the doctor’s office the next morning, she gave me the worst news. “You have cancer,” she said, pushing a bunch of papers towards me. “It’s malignant.” 

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After letting my husband and immediate family know, I sent Amanda a text. "Honey, I have bad news. I do have breast cancer. I have surgery in two weeks." There was no reply. I contacted other friends who responded immediately, either via text or a phone call. But Amanda was silent; she must be with a client, I assumed. 

But as the days went by, and there was still no response from Amanda, I was very surprised – surely, she isn’t that busy? I contacted a mutual friend, asking if Amanda is okay. "She’s great, I spoke to her a couple of days ago. Maybe she’s waiting to see you and hear about your treatment plan?" my friend said.

But I had an odd feeling; let’s call it women’s intuition. I knew Amanda was the sort of person who shied away from bad news of any kind. For example, I’d recently initiated a chat about a murder that had been committed in her suburb. But she shrugged it off saying, "I don’t want to know. I only want to fill my soul with good news." But surely this way of thinking wouldn’t extend to a cancer diagnosis of a close friend? 

I had my first round of surgery, and my doctor was hopeful she’d managed to get all the cancer out before starting several weeks of radiation therapy.

My mind travelled once more to Amanda. I was feeling quite hurt that I still hadn’t heard from her (we'd usually chat at least once a week), so I sent another text: "Hey, not sure what’s going on in your life but just letting you know I’ve had my first surgery for the breast cancer. It’d be great to hear from you."


But two weeks later, there was still silence. 

A phone call from my doctor brought some more news: I needed to have surgery again, as the cancer had spread further than she suspected. It wasn’t pleasant having the wound re-opened but, when you’re in the cancer-world, you quickly learn to adjust. 

This time, I stopped myself from contacting Amanda – it felt humiliating being ignored. My husband, quite unhelpfully, suggested, "She’s always been a bit weird." This was true, but it still didn’t explain the ghosting.  

Conversations with other patients revealed a sad pattern: some friends distance themselves from those battling illness. One woman told me, “I also have a friend who doesn’t want to know me right now. Some people just run away from sick people. It’s about her, it’s not about you.”  

Six months later, I was fully recovered, and I’d come to a sad acceptance that Amanda might never re-enter my life. Perhaps my ordeal was too close to her own experiences with loss, (her father died after a long cancer battle) or it forced her to confront uncomfortable realities about her own mortality.

I really do miss Amanda and hope that one day we will be friends again. But she owes me an explanation about why she abandoned a friend who had been good to her in her times of trouble. This journey has really taught me about the unpredictability of human connections and the resilience needed to navigate them.

Feature Image: Getty.