Norwich teen backs campaign to stop cancer getting in way of friendship
- Credit: Gigi Ranger
A Norwich film student has urged friends to "address the elephant in the room" to stop cancer from getting in the way of friendship.
Gigi Ranger was diagnosed with myelodysplasia, a rare blood cancer, when she was 16 and said her bubble was shattered when she found herself unable to talk with new friends at college, and her closest friend saying: "I don't want to be your friend anymore".
She is now one of 20 young people sharing their experiences through the Teenage Cancer Trust's Friendship and Cancer campaign offering advice on how young people can support friends through their diagnosis.
The charity found three-quarters of young cancer sufferers saw their friendships changed during treatment.
This did not surprise the 20-year-old NUA film student, who said it was important to highlight the issue, including negative experiences.
Miss Ranger said with new friends she felt there needed to be a time frame before telling them about her diagnosis but saw a breakdown in her relationship with one close friend.
She said: "When I was going through treatment, my close friend said: ‘I don’t want to be your friend anymore’.
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"All the years we spent with each other and all the memories we made were forgotten. When you go into a friendship, you don’t expect them to get cancer.
"You are in such a bubble when you are a teenager and in the middle part of your life, and people don’t know how to deal with a friend with cancer. It’s an extra weight on a friendship."
Nearly half of those surveyed by the charity believed awkwardness around what to say or do when they were diagnosed was the reason friends fell out of touch.
Miss Ranger, who will soon move to London to continue studying film and her ambitions as a director, said: “Everyone is different, so I would ask if they wanted to talk about it, or if they want to talk about anything else as a distraction.
"Sometimes when I was in hospital, I just wanted to hear about what was going on outside and talk about things that we could look forward to.
"Some people like to talk about the subject first hand.
"That initial conversation with your friend can have a great foundation for the future. Have that initial conversation about how you are going to discuss the elephant in the room."