Letter from a Friend

About This Project

Welcome to Letters from a Friend


If you are a teenager newly diagnosed with a serious illness, these “Letters from a Friend” are for you.

If you are a friend or family member of a newly diagnosed patient, these letters are for you too.

Each letter was written by a teen survivor of catastrophic illness (ages 12-21.)  The teens were asked to write, “The Letter I Wish  I had Received from a Friend or Relative when I was Ill.”  Some of the letters are written to themselves at the age they were diagnosed.  Some are written directly to you, the newly diagnosed patient, parent, or friend.

For you, the patient, the writer’s intention is to be a friend during your illness. Consider the writer as someone who deeply knows and understands what you are going through, someone who offers hope and advice. Someone who can be a guide during your illness. 

If you are a friend or family member of a newly diagnosed patient, these young survivors want to help you help the patient as you navigate uncharted terrain.

The letters are divided into categories to help you select those that might speak best to you.  Feel free to read all of them!



For Teen Patients

For Friends of Patients

For Parents and Family


These letters are collected from the winners of the annual Andre Sobel Award, a national essay contest that honors the wisdom and insight of young survivors. Now in it’s 16th year, the award celebrates teen survivors and shares their messages of hope and survival with newly diagnosed patients. Created to honor the memory of Andre Sobel, the award reflects his struggle with the challenge of isolation from his peers during treatment for a brain tumor and his spiritual growth and wisdom that transcended physical illness. The award encourages young survivors to reflect deeply on their own experience of friendship during illness and share their stories of growth and wisdom. While Andre was not able to pursue his plans for college and beyond, it is the intention of the Andre Sobel Award that winners use their award funds in any way they choose to fulfill a cherished dream.

The Award is a project of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation whose mission is to provide urgent financial assistance to single parent families of children facing catastrophic illness.

We welcome your comments, questions, and letters.  Please share these letters with your friends!