Alexis wrote the letter that she wished she had received from her best friend when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Lexi urges friends to still talk about their bad days, fears, crushes, and joyous moments because it’s what keeps relationships healthy and strong.
How are you feeling today? I hope it is one of the few extra good days. You always ask how I am; yet I never answer it truthfully. I dodge the question. Not because I am not okay, but since I have plenty on my plate and want to make sure that you do not feel obligated to deal with my insignificant problems.
I have come to realize that you want to know what is happening in my life and I regret hiding my life from you just because you are sick; I am ignorant to believe you do not desire to know what is going on in my life. Talking to you always seems to help, so here it goes… You are my sister, Lex. Not by birth, but a long‐lost sister. It feels as if I have not actually talked to you in a long time.
It is difficult to confide and be honest with you when my problems seem so insignificant compared to everything you are going through. And if I am honest, half of my problems deal with you – my best friend having cancer.
Whenever I am with you, I put on a brave face since I know you need the support, not a friend putting extra worries and weakness in your head. But, Lex, no one besides my family knows how much I cry now. Especially right before bed; I just can’t turn my brain off. The worse case scenario just keeps flashing through my mind. I still remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news. Lying on the bedroom floor, I was making a new necklace out of my beads when my mom knocked on the door. Her eyes were tear-stained, red, and puffy. I knew you were gone from school for the past few days, nonetheless, not expecting the words she said next, I ended up spilling the beads as I curled into a ball on the floor and just lay there for a few hours crying.
You know I came up and visited the first day, but, to be honest Lex, I did not want to.
I was so afraid to face you. I was afraid of bursting into tears in front of you – of making your fears worse. I am still scared, Lex.
Honestly, school was worse. I felt like I was carrying a heavy weight on my shoulders. Countless people came up to me and asked what was wrong, yet I shrugged them away since I couldn’t form the words and knew there was an announcement coming.
Lex, even the people you hardly talked to bawled the second Principle Smith uttered the words concerning your diagnosis. No one did anything in class that day; we all gathered in Mrs. Ngyuens’s room and attempted to make sense of it all, yet nothing was accomplished. I ended up leaving school and returning home for lunch to cry with my mom. It’s just tough, Lex. I feel like I am living in constant fear. I know it is not your fault and I would never blame you; it is ten times harder being in your shoes, but every time my phone goes off, my heart drops thinking it is your parents. And whenever we hang out, I am nervous to suggest an activity that you are not feeling up to doing or whatnot; the last thing I want is for you to feel guilty about your condition.
I guess I just want my best friend back to normal.
Considering you cannot constantly hang out anymore, I have been extremely lonely. I guess I never realized how often we truly hung out until you were diagnosed. Now I always just sit around my room having the nail polish, thread for friendship bracelets, and beads haunt me with your absence. The other girls and I still hang out, but it will never be the same as you and I. They are not my sisters.
On a positive note, do you remember Josh? He is a new student this year and you may have seen him on the couple of days you have made it to school (he is technically in your class). Anyway, I have a crush on him and believe he likes me back. I don’t know for sure, but we will see where it goes. I am sorry to unload all of this on you, except I have noticed that the majority of people offer you that “everything-‐is-‐perfect” vibe. And if we truly are best friends, I want to be honest. I am always here for you and I understand you are there for me. You ask all the time about how I am; yet I always brush it off.
Here is the truth: yes, I am okay, but I just need my best friend.
I love you, Lex.
Lexi is from Michigan and began Michigan State University in the Fall of 2016. In middle school, she was diagnosed with ALL and finished her treatments in 201o.