The Importance of Friendship

Serena Lawrence avatar

by Serena Lawrence |

Share this article:

Share article via email

Kelsey and me. She lives in BC, but still finds the time to see me at least once a year, when she is home for the holidays.

In Life with PH
Unfortunately, it often takes a tragedy to find out who your real friends are. And, although living with PH sucks, it is a really good obstacle for weeding out people who don’t belong in your life. From friends and family to partners, PH helps separate the weak from the strong, the compassionate from the unsupportive.

When I was diagnosed, it became clear who couldn’t handle my diagnosis and who was willing to try to be there for me. The issue was, I could barely handle my own diagnosis. Actually, I wasn’t handling it well at all. (After my RHC, I had to have a nurse stay with me, because my file noted that I was a suicide risk.) Because of this, I felt it was safer to push people away. I couldn’t ask anyone to help me through this when I could barely fathom what I was going through. I was on a solo trip, riding the hot mess express and thought it would be selfish to drag anyone down with me.

For support, I’ve mostly relied on my parents, my best friend, Melissa, and my now ex-partner. When my relationship ended, I realized how badly I needed more friends. You see, when I was diagnosed, I read a lot of self-improvement books for people living with life-threatening diseases. Many of the books I read discussed studies linking a good support system to survival in cancer patients. And, yes, while PH is different from cancer, I believe these are important factors for anyone facing a serious illness.

According to an article post in the Huffington Post, social support can help ease the pain and symptoms for breast cancer patients. A strong support system also was found to help improve the quality of life among late-stage breast cancer patients. Supportive friendships also may help improve survival among breast cancer patients. According to the Huffington Post, “… researchers determined that while the quantity of social ties a woman has impacts mortality more, the importance of quality shouldn’t be discounted. Indeed, women with small networks and low levels of support were 61 percent more likely to die from breast cancer and other causes than those with small networks and high levels of support.” 

Kelsey and me

Kelsey and me. She lives in British Columbia, but still finds the time to see me at least once a year, when she is home for the holidays.

When I found myself down a member in my support team, I was worried that I would wither away, so I did something that terrified me. I went out on social media and asked if anyone wanted to reconnect or become friends.

As a self-proclaimed hermit, it felt really scary to put my needs out there. I also worried that no one would want to be my friend or reconnect, especially because my life feels so much more off-base compared to my peers. But I was pleasantly surprised by how many people reached out with friendship and kindness.

Even though I find myself in a confusing situation, it has helped so much to have the support of friends, both new and old. I have found it beneficial to be able to meet up with wonderful people, grab a tea and catch up on life. It also has been exciting to be around so many kind and strong like-minded women.

I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has been kind enough to grab onto my olive branch. Exchanging stories, hugs, laughs, friendship and even a few tears has been much more therapeutic than I could have imagined.

And for those of you who find yourselves longing for better friendship and support, don’t be afraid to take the first step. You might be surprised by how many people have been waiting for your invitation.


Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.


Joanne avatar


Great article Serena. I don't know one PH patient that didn't experience a shift in friendships upon diagnosis. I was lucky, only a few people pulled away (one jock friend told me I just needed to exercise). It's super important for us to maintain friendships and relationships.

Amy Peeples avatar

Amy Peeples

I just lost my best friend for the last 23 years a few weeks ago . I talked to her every day . She was so funny . And now she is dead . Not from ph but heroin . I was supposed to die , not her . It’s so devestating , I agree , not having anyone makes this disease worse

Andrea Rice avatar

Andrea Rice

Beautiful article! Yes friendships are very important and thankfully I have a best friend I've known for over twenty years we keep in touch via email because she lives out of state. I also have my 26 year old son, but this is it because the rest of my family is abusive and I have no contact with them and the friends I had before are workaholics that I rarely see. So, I'm not complaining. I have two people who give me so much love and support and are teaching me daily not to be so negative but more positive. Then I see a therapist and I love seeing a therapist because I get another point of view different from my own.

I don't have Facebook or Twitter or know how to navigate social media to be comfortable with it. Plus, I don't trust it. Anyone can say anything online but because I can't see them in person there's no accountability with what is real and what isn't real. I do know the dangers of being in online chat rooms from reading news stories about bullying, money scams, sexual predators that I am very cautious about. I've read that some people put way too much personal information about themselves online and just trust the website will protect their information. Remember years ago my friends wanted me to join LinkedIn and said the site will never get hacked and they were putting lots of personal information on there until one day, guess what LinkedIn got hacked!!

For now I'm happy having my son and best friend as my support team. Two is better than one and I'm not complaining!!

It shouldn't take a major shift in a person's life with an illness to find out who is a true blue friend and who isn't. Navigating to understand human beings isn't easy and for me seeing a therapist to get closure and to learn skills to stay away from all abusive people is where my destination is headed. One doesn't necessarily need a whole bunch of friends just the ones that are truly committed to being my friend overall.


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.