Relationship struggles with best friend

Occasional Contributor

Relationship struggles with best friend

Need some advice please on how to resolve an issue with my best friend. 

My best friend and I live together. I don’t have any close family and when I was diagnosed with early breast cancer, she saw me through the hardest times (chemo/appointments etc) she cared for me at home. I am of course forever grateful and thank you for her. Now that I’m completing radiation and nearing the end of my hospital treatment (gaining strength back, normalising as best as poss) she takes offence and snaps whenever we have the slightest disagreement. she is coming across really resentful. She’s said to me a few times now in anger, “you’re not the only one affected by this” and “ive suffered too you know”.....Well of course I know!

ive told her countless times how grateful I am for all she’s done for me, but it doesn’t seem enough. She’s accused me of using ‘cancer’ against her in arguments about whatever. It feels like she wants more acknowledgment of her part in my recovery, and the arguments are getting worse. What to do?? it’s become too stressful. I want to move out eventually but don’t have the finances to do it yet.


Super Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

I can't really offer advice, so much as my own vantage point, and how I'd handle it.

Cancer is a shit-show, it rubs it's grubby little paws all over everything, trying to contaminate the good things in your life.


You mention arguments with your friend.  It takes two to argue, right ?

Thing is, you *ARE* fighting cancer, and it's righteous that you should be able to put your needs first.

But THAT said, your dear friend is also clearly very affected, worried about you no doubt, maybe even a little worried about their own future - if you're both young and financially rely a bit on each other as the post hints ?

So it's a little bit complex .. but at the core:  it takes two to argue.

(And in my experience the person who tries to reconcile and resolve an argument always wins hands down, even if a relationship ends, they were the bigger person, made the sacrifice of their pride, and tried to solve whatever problem was on the table)

My suggestion:  try talking again, but put aside all history.  If history comes up, shoo it away. 

Here's an example of how I'd approach that conversation.

I sit down at the table with my friend.
I smile at them and say I want to talk seriously.  Straight from the heart, no bullshit.  I'm sorry for how things have gone, I value the friendship and I want to talk it through:  is that OK with you ?
If they agree, I then explain to them that cancer has knocked me about, emotionally, spiritually, in my way of thinking, and I apologise if I've in any way taken that out on them.
I explain that they are my friend, and I value and even rely on them, the way they listen, the way they help (whatever it is they do).
I'd explain that cancer is an awful thing to experience for everybody, but as it's my life at risk, I have to be protective of my mental health and prioritise my chances of winning the fight.
I'd say that this is another important reason why I need to make peace and fix the relationship going forward - I just can't afford to carry the weight of it at this crucial time.
You're my friend.  I love you.  I'm sorry for my mistakes.
I need to <<insert need here >>> ... stop the arguments ?  plan for the future ?  put life on hold now and just be in limbo for a few months .. whatever

So yeah, that would be my approach, but .. you're not me.  I hope it gives you some ideas ?  If you need more advice, happy if you hit me up - but I'm a grizzled older guy and my perspective may not even be appropriate for younger folks. 

All the best.

Occasional Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

Firstly...WOW! thank you so much for your reply. 


You've definitely given me some great ideas and I appreciate your perspective more than you know


You're right it does take two to argue and I'm tired of that. This situation/relationship is not the most important thing in my life, but it is definitely holding me down. if I can resolve this or at least get past this (even if it means the relationship ends)'ll take a whole lotta stress off my shoulders and help me through this recovery... help us both get through.


I agree with you 100% on this : 

(And in my experience the person who tries to reconcile and resolve an argument always wins hands down, even if a relationship ends, they were the bigger person, made the sacrifice of their pride, and tried to solve whatever problem was on the table)


I'm going to have that conversation with her.....wish me luck. I'll do my best to reconcile and resolve whatever happens. 


Thank you CaptainAustrali for your kind and understanding words 🙂

Occasional Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

  • How difficult for you.  People choose to do things for us and then we feel indebted.  I worry about you because you don’t need this stress.  You have been through so much.  I struggle sometimes hearing how our cancers affect other people so much, but that is hardly our fault.  Definitely a hard one.  Your friend maybe is just exhausted from it all too.  I would write a letter to your friend and just put it out there.  You may give it to your friend, you may not.    You have dealt with worse than this now, cancer/treatment, emotions - stand strong!!?,  xxxx
Occasional Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

Thank you for your understanding and advice Granny, I will do my best Xo Thank you for your beautiful message xx 

I know that it’s not easy for other people, they do struggle and have to deal with stuff in their own way as well as their own issues.

Since I made that post another close friend of mine, suddenly turned on me after having what I thought was a good night out full of laughs...I didn’t expect from her at all. She told me I was negative, didn’t respect her and told me “it isn’t always about you!”. I was completely stunned, because it was like she snapped...I know a..holes.. and I’m not one of them...I’ve not asked anything from anyone this whole fkn time! I just don’t get it, maybe I never can they expect me to offer them more sympathy, acknowledgment and recognition, whatever it is they want from me...than I can give while going though this...

You’re right Granny, I don’t need this stress but it makes me sad to know that these people are my closest’ friends and I just can’t believe it’s gone this way. 

I’m back at work full time, I can’t afford not to be and I’m trying to stay strong and focused.

I’m determined to get through this and live whatever time I have in this life happy and to the fullest.

Super Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

That really bites the bag.


My comment on this, is one geared toward learning.


There's a relationship between predator and prey, a kind of mutual contract.  It feels to me as though it's part of a Grand Design, and it doesn't just apply in nature - but also with human relationships.


If you're discovering that some of your dearest friends are (excuse me) *pieces of shit* (these folks certainly sound like they are), then there might be a quality in you that attracts and permits them --- and the shit only sticks to the wall and creates an ugly stain in extreme examples like cancer.


My advice would be to empower yourself, and be mindful.  Consider that you might be a 'soft' person in nature, and that this quality allows 'takers' to creep into your life under the radar, people who subconsciously recognise you as weaker than them (short sighted morally bankrupt arse-hats, IMO).  Everything can be fine & dandy until an extreme situation changes the dynamic .. you might notice that you're the one who seems to pay for drinks more often than the others, or it's often your treat at the movies, or you often are 'the listener' allowing people to vent their problems.


I'm not trying to caricature you, or paint a picture that doesnt exist - it's purely a *food for thought* thing.


If you've allowed arse-hats into your life, you shouldn't feel too bad about cutting them loose.


If you're lonely, you can find new friends.


I'd offer to be your buddy, but I'm so profoundly lazy that I only really invest in managing one or two extremely close friendships at this stage in my life.  

Those comments parked to one side - sympathies that you're doing it tough.  Cancer is hard enough to face up to when everything else is copacetic, it must be an awful grind when other parts of your life are out of whack in any way.


All the best.

Super Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

(I wouldn't write them a letter or an email, incidentally, I personally think that's bullshit advice)


At the end of the day if you use that as empty venting and never send it, you're not solving the problem or growing, you're just blowing off steam.  If that's all you can achieve, might as well seek out & do something FUN.


If you're using it as a vehicle to articulate yourself, it's doomed to fail.  Face to face, honest, non-judgemental - if there's something you need to get off your chest, talking it out has a (maybe small) chance of a happy outcome.


Writing a letter ?  Or an email ?  No.  Don't do that.


Vent if you need to, but really, if you need that, come here and complain and seek comment - there may be boofheads (like me) offering (potentially useless) advice, but no doubt there are folks also well stocked with wisdom and kindness and more than happy to amicably receive a steam-laden rant.

Occasional Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

Captain Australi, I know exactly what you’re talking about. 


I don’t really know how else to say this but, you’re absolutely right! About so many things.


I have been that person you describe...all my life. Easily manipulated, easily used, easily hurt....I do have a soft nature and  ....Yes! With the biggest ass-hats you can find (I know I allowed them and that behaviour in) ......The thing I’m changed...Cancer changed me. 


I’m evolving into the person who was always there but was too scared to be. 

 Yes I can make new friends (even if I’m also lazy and have only kept a few very close ones who unfortunately are ass-hats too). I can empower myself and continue to learn. 

I’ll always be a lover not a fighter but I don’t want to waste more time, years pleasing everyone else.


I need to be true to myself, and real about what I want in my life. I need to let go of the past. This is definitely about learning!!!


As hard as it gets, I’m not gonna give up on myself. I owe it to myself to respect and love my life. There’s so much I want to do, and so much I have to offer that even as I write this, I feel the plates of my life like past,present, future shifting into place beneath me...the grand design.


captain Australi, thank you for reminding me that ass-hats come and go and that I have the choice. XoX 


P.s I appreciate Granny’s advice, but I won’t write a letter. I ‘m not that great at writing them, and even if I did draw up a good one, I highly doubt they would appreciate it.




Super Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

Hi Tarai,

How did you go?


Regular Contributor

Re: Relationship struggles with best friend

Hi Tarari


Having cancer is shit. It may impact you, but the nature of the beast, it takes down the people close to you as well.


When I was first diagnosed, my first reaction was to retreat inside myself and block everyone out. I soon found out that those closest to me were impacted too and they were not going to let me go through it alone. I shared my news with close friends and family and found an overwhelming response for support. One of the first things I got from this website, don't block people out. And when I went for surgery, one of the nurses pointed out that I should let my pride stop people from helping me, despite how much my independence demands I block them out. I shouldn't be afraid to ask for help, as it's only a short term need.


My wife is my best friend, but I think my cancer has impacted her more than me. I feel bad for causing her stress and I apologise. But how ridiculous to apologise for having cancer and loving someone to the point where they want to help and care for you?


I want to help my wife reduce her stress. I want to care for her, but at the same time, I need to remember that I'm the sick one. I have to swallow my pride and let her care for me. It's going to hurt her too because loves me. That's the nature of cancer.


Anyway, when people are stressed, they need an emotional outlet. They can't just keep bottling up. And it really sucks that it's easier to lash out at the people you love than with strangers. As far as arse-hats go, I've had a few for friends in my life, but still friends, nonetheless. Some friends you can keep close and others need some distance.


Obviously, there has been enough love there for her to help you so much; and for the tense outbursts. It is hard when you live together, but I think you need to find the best distance between the two of you. It's unfortunate to lose a friendship. Especially when you're both the victims of the same cancer.


I can't advise on letters or not. I can't advise the best words to use. But sometimes actions speak louder than words. Hugs are nice. 


I hope that helps. Good luck with the rest of your treatment; and your friendship.







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