“30. She’s 30 years old, Katy. It’s not fair. What can I do?” she asked.

My heart ached for this woman. A follower to the page wrote those words last night, and I felt my heart breaking for her.

Her best friend of 20 years, a mom, a teacher, a wife, just received a cancer diagnosis.

“How? How can I make this better? How can I help?” she asked.

It completely took me back to my own diagnosis.

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Thoughts of Susan.

Thoughts of Carla.

Thoughts of Mel.

Thoughts of my team.

Thoughts of my neighbors.

Of course, thoughts of my family.

Thoughts of the miracles He lined up.

And thoughts of how heartbreaking my own diagnosis was for my army. How helpless they must have felt.

My response was simple:

“Don’t be the one who washes away.”

My journey with cancer was like a tidal wave. Like the drift of the ocean . . . people are brought in, they help you rise. Like hope, they keep you afloat.

And yet others simply fade out, wash away . . . leaving only traces on the sand of what they once were.

Cancer, it changes everything.

And no one really told me about those waves.

If you are standing on the shore, watching as a friend prepares for the most epic swim of her life I say this to you, as I did to her: 

Be OK with the waves. Get ready to ride them with her.

Be OK when she forgets to call. Be OK when she’s too scared to talk, just let her sit. Be OK when she’s not so nice. Be OK when she just cries for no reason. Be OK when the waves just crash.

Be OK with the waves.

Be OK when she’s sick when she doesn’t look good. When she has hair clumps in her hand and tears in her eyes.

Be OK with the waves. She knows what she looks like, so remind her how beautiful she is. Remind her that her heart is more beautiful than her hair. And buy a hat, or a beanie, or a bow or something that says, wear it if you want, but it’s cool if you don’t.

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Be OK with the waves. Go out of your way to research for her so she doesn’t have to. She doesn’t need to WebMD it. Give her a naughty romance novel. C’mon, you know. The one that will crack a smile, that she won’t admit she’ll read. She’ll read it though. She will. She reads for pleasure. You read to save her from that unnecessary pain.

Be OK with the waves. Be OK to carry the load. She’s carrying the emotional ocean of treatment, of healing . . . carry the hard by handling the rest. Go over with dinner. Put her kiddos down for a nap. Netfix it with her. Remind her that in college you may have chugged the beer, now you help her chug the water.

Start a support group, a meal train, and an army of people who will sweat for her.

Be OK with the waves. Don’t tell her you understand. You don’t. But you know He works all things for good. She can do hard things, and you are going to fight with her.

Be OK with the waves. Be OK holding her thinning hair back or just sitting with her when the medication is too much. Remind her she can do hard things and together you’ve got this.

You’re just riding some waves.


Fight with her.

Change the phrase, you have cancer, to we are fighting this cancer, our army is fighting with you, and we’ve got your back.

Above all, let her know she is not battling alone. It’s a we thing. You are riding the waves, too.

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When you feel in your heart that it’s not her battle but your battle together, He will work in the most amazing way to remind you He’s riding the waves with you both.

That’s how hope floats.

You see, when you ride the waves with your beautiful bestie, cancer doesn’t ever win.

You are too busy letting hope float to ever let the cancer sink the spirit.

Katy Ursta

Hey all!  I am Katy Ursta married to my college sweetheart for 12 years, a mom of two boys, and a stage four cancer survivor. I started writing as a way of coping with my diagnosis, but found the more I shared about cancer, the more universal cancer became, and the more connected I felt to others and the less isolated I felt through the struggle.  I own a virtual health and wellness company and commit to helping my clients find a deeper motivation to fight for their own health. 
When I am not in the stands of my sons' hockey games, I am usually found folding the never ending piles of laundry, looking for the matching sock, breaking up hockey fights, or (let's just be honest) with my hand buried in the bag of chocolate, asking the question, "what do you want for dinner?"  You can find more of my work on instagram @katy_ursta or on my website, katyursta.com