I read on another website about people thinking cancer is contagious and how some people have noticed the distancing of friends/co-workers. I thought about some of the people I have lost since cancer. I think many people pull away because they feel helpless or they are afraid/worried that they will be asked to provide more emotional support then they are willing to give.
I lost several friends due to my cancer.
Friend 1. She works at a hospital and said my cancer was liking bringing her work home with her. It was too “medical” and when she was off work she didn’t want anything to do with medical issues.
Friend 2. Her closest friend died of cancer a few years back and my cancer reminded her of that loss and she didn’t want to get hurt again so she decided it was better to sever the friendship.
Friend 3. Our friendship consisted of lunches, dinners, movies….now that I can’t do those she struggles to adjust to new options. She works during the day in the city and so it leaves evenings and weekends only. She is usually busy with family on weekends so that left evenings. Due to pumps, evenings are out for me. Too much of a bother and too inconvenient for her.
I do understand what their reasons are and although it hurts to feel “dumped” due to cancer, I try to focus on the good memories rather than the reason the friendship ended. I know that most people would view them as petty “not-really-friends” but that wouldn’t be a fair statement. We all have our limits and know what nurtures us with our friendships. Cancer treatment and the aftermath has limited my ability to nurture their needs and to meet them on equal grounds.
I respect their ability to come to terms with THEIR emotional limits and were honest with me.
I haven’t filled the friend voids – it is very difficult to get out and meet new people. I also hate to explain why I can’t meet them for dinner/lunch or an evening movie. I feel like it puts me in a position to have to apologize. I don’t like this feeling and so I do find myself pulling back and avoiding even my existing friends. I hate hooking up around people…I don’t mind their curiousity questions but I do mind having to explain some issues. I hate the pity or the “hope you feel better” comments. This is my “feel better”. There is no “feel better” cure/fix around the corner. This is my reality and I am struggling to find acceptance – I don’t need others to continue to try to keep me focused on returning to my old life.
It is a tough balance between taking care of myself by pulling away from some people and staying connected to people who care about me. I know everyone means well but it is sometimes not helpful to me. I know where I need to be mentally and it is definitely a journey.
Does anyone else experience similar? How do/did you move forward? How do you stop the “hope you get better” comments and move others into “acceptance” of your situation?
With all the hoopla in the news lately about Susan Komen and Planned Parenthood I can’t help but wanna shout
THERE ARE OTHER CANCERS TO FUND BESIDES BREAST CANCER!!!!
For every dollar donated to breast cancer research, people ought to donate an equal amount to other cancer research. Everyone with cancer deserves a cure, support and encouragement. I don’t want to appear to be dismissing breast cancer support but it can often seem that all other cancers are not as worthy of curing. I’ve actually been turned down for financial assistance because I had stomach cancer not breast cancer…if you lose your hair to chemo from a non-breast cancer, you don’t get the wig/make-up etc assistance that you can get if your boobs are involved.
All the emphasis on breast cancer and pink ribbons seems to overshadow the harsh realities:
Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and accounted for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008. The main types of cancer are:
- lung (1.37 million deaths)
- stomach (736 000 deaths)
- liver (695 000 deaths)
- colorectal (608 000 deaths)
- breast (458 000 deaths)
- cervical cancer (275 000 deaths) (3).
About 70% of all cancer deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries. Deaths from cancer worldwide are projected to continue to rise to over 13.1 million in 2030.
Yeah, I am probably being petty but look around – breast cancer is only one form of cancer. Your mother, sister, aunt, daughter, etc. can get stomach/brain/lung/skin/etc cancer without being in any risk category…so can your father, brother, son and uncle. Yeah, I have my panties in a wad because of all the breast cancer ads I have heard today. They all seem to imply that breast cancer is the most devastating diagnosis you can receive. Do people not realize how few women with breast cancer actually die from breast cancer compared to other cancers? Do they know that all women (and men) need a cure for cancer – not only breast cancer victims. I am ready to say “chop off the boob and move on”. I know that is not right and it is just my frustration showing.
I am tired of the lack of support that breast cancer agencies and fundraisers demonstrate toward other cancer warriors and survivors.
There also needs to be more support for cancer survivors. A friend has been talking about forming a charity to help survivors. I like the idea of a charity but curious as to the depth of the mission. Since there is no “research” except regarding the long-term effects of surviving cancer I think that asking for support might not be as appealing to many people. I think that education regarding the impact of cancer needs to be increased as I hear so many people comment “well, you survived cancer, so why aren’t you working?” or “well, now that your cancer is cured….” or “your issue is not cancer…” or the worst “I know so many people who have had cancer and are just fine now” (implying that I somehow messed up surviving cancer).
People assume that SSDI is sufficient (hahahahahahahahaha). It is also not a matter of “getting back to living and moving forward from the cancer”.
On the medical front…I do have an update but my eyelids are drooping. It’s tiring to keep getting up and down from my soapbox.
Question – why do I continue to cook and make such incredible food when I can’t eat it? Don’t say I do it for the boys as they will eat mediocre food when hungry. Today was a pesto quiche, homemade cookies and later Korean BBQ chicken with homemade crab rangoons.
2 bonus points to all who have read this post from beginning to end….