Supporting a best friend through a medical emergency is a no-brainer.
But a recent post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit illustrated that, according to some people, not all support counts equally.
The Original Poster (OP), known as fishingunderthesun on the site, used the post’s title to shed light on the particular form of support at the core of a recent ordeal.
“AITA for not shaving my head to support my best friend?”
OP began with some glowing words.
“I [24-year-old female] have known my best friend ‘Grace’ [24-year-old female] since we were 11 years old and I love her to bits.”
“We’ve been each others’ rocks throughout all our hard times, so obviously I was devastated for her when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer a few weeks ago.”
“Thankfully her prognosis is optimistic, but she needs surgery and is about to begin chemo.”
“I cried a lot when I first heard about her diagnosis, but Grace is one of those people who uses humour to cope in hard times and she’s been powering through it with her head held high.”
“She’s honestly my hero.”
Then someone had an idea.
“We have a group of good mutual friends we’ve known since school, and yesterday they invited me to a video call without Grace.”
“One of our friends told us about an idea she had that we should all shave our heads in support of Grace since she’s going to lose her hair and make a video to put on Instagram and facebook and the like.”
“Everyone else looked a bit horrified when I firmly said I wouldn’t be doing that.”
OP felt her reasons for that were sound.
“I never had long hair my entire childhood as it’s very thick and my mum didn’t want to deal with it, and after having short hair as a teenager I decided to grow it out.”
“I haven’t had a proper haircut since I was 17 and now it’s almost long enough that I can sit on it, so I’m not keen to shave it off and start again.”
“As someone who has lost close relatives to cancer, I also feel really uncomfortable with people who shave their heads in ‘support’ as to me it just seems like performative activism to get attention on social media.”
But she was surprised by the response.
“My friends all went off at me about how I’m selfish and have no empathy for Grace and what she’s going through, but I don’t think that you should have to put yourself through someone else’s struggle in order to support them.”
“I left the call and woke up this morning to a tidal wave of messages from other friends and family asking me why I was so nasty to my friends when they just wanted to help.”
“I don’t think it’s made it through to Grace yet (the head shaving is meant to be a surprise) and if it has, she hasn’t talked to me about it.”
“At this point I’m questioning if I’m really being selfish and horrible because I adore Grace with all my heart but I really don’t want to lose my hair as well.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Most Redditors supported OP’s stance on the issue. They agreed with her rationale too.
“NTA. You’re correct. Why do they need to blast this on social media except for the look at how supportive we’re being.”
“You know whats supportive for your friend? Being there for her. Helping with appointments. Sitting there while she’s getting treatment. Listening to her needs, wants, fears. What does shaving your head do?”
“I think you should continue to be the best friend you can be and if anyone gives you shit tell them to fu** off and stop being attention seekers.” — nika_sunshine_1990
“NTA – Your friends are idiots. Even if we accept that them shaving their heads is “supporting” Grace (questionable), why do you have to support her in the same way as them?”
“I’m sure Grace will need lots of things in the coming days, someone to hang out, laugh & cry with; someone to run errands; etc.”
“Why are you not just as good a friend as these transparently Instagram clout-chasing knuckleheads?” — bklynpeter
“NTA if they were doing it just because I would say it’s about support. But the fact that they want to post it on fb and such makes it feel so performative.”
“When I was in hs, a beloved teacher had breast cancer. A few students shaved their heads without telling her. They never said anything or made a big deal about it and it did mean a lot to her.”
“But again, not what your friends seem to be doing.” — Grand_Masterpiece_11
Others raised another important–and basic–point.
“NTA has Grace been told she will lose her hair? Not all chemo causes hair loss. Neither of my parents did.” — ruralife
“NTA. Cancer and chemotherapy are terrible, but not everyone loses their hair. Maybe the group could chip in to buy Grace a cold cap to help her keep her hair instead of the pointless gesture of shaving their own heads.” — koinu-chan_love
“NTA. Also not everyone loses their hair. My cousin still has a full head of thick wavy hair after going through chemo and radiation 3 times. Same thing for my sister & an aunt from my mom’s side.”
“Plus for all your friends know she could take it as she’s being mocked not supported. I’ve found that when it comes to cancer , they were rather you show ur support in a different a way at least in adults.” — CrazyReckly
And some reminded who should really be making the decisions.
“NTA Has anyone actually spoken to Grace about how she wants to be supported? It honestly sounds like everyone else is doing this to make Graces cancer somehow about them too” — repthe732
“Ask Grace. Hers is the only opinion that matters.” — T1s1phon3Aaronz
So regardless of what OP’s friends end up doing, at least she can feel no guilt while she keeps her hair and helps her friend in other ways.