Roy Gilbert

The Awful Coincidence of 2 Friends Who Got the Same Cancer

“I think we were meant to walk through this together.” Wenjia Tang Each installment of “ The Friendship Files ” features a conversation between The Atlantic ’s Julie Beck and two or more friends, exploring the history and significance of their relationship.

This week she talks with two friends who were both diagnosed with the same cancer—acute myeloid leukemia—one right after the other. They discuss how this unhappy coincidence shaped their friendship and their faith, and what they’ve learned about the right and wrong ways to support a sick friend. The Friends:

Doug Kelley, 64, a professor at Arizona State University who lives in Phoenix, Arizona
Ted Wueste, 51, a pastor who lives in Phoenix This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Julie Beck: Paint me a portrait of what your friendship was like before your diagnoses.

Doug Kelley: Our friendship was in a growth stage. One day in a sermon Ted had quoted a couple of people who I was familiar with and who were a little bit out of the box. So I made an appointment to see him, because I wanted to find out if he was the real deal.

Ted Wueste: I probably quoted Henri Nouwen or maybe Richard Rohr. Doug and I both grew up in the more conservative evangelical stream of the Christian faith. Those two authors speak to the search for God in some really deep personal places, in ways that the more traditional [writings] didn’t.
Doug: Both those […]

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