Friday, 20 March 2015

The friends that disappear

Author: Anonymous

When everyone knows you have cancer it can be hard to keep up with all the messages, phone calls and emails. Lots of people want to know how you are and what's happening with your treatment. Lots of people tell you to let them know if there's anything they can do to help, but most of the time you probably don't get back to them to ask for anything. It can be really difficult to keep up with everyone. The people you respond to the quickest often just happen to be the people who got in touch at the right moment, when you are not busy and when you are not tired or ill. Other people don't get a reply from you, either for ages, or at all, and you can feel really guilty about that, but you hope people understand that your head is all over the place, you really are tired, you really are ill, but that you really are grateful to have heard from them anyway. Sometimes you don't reply to someone for a long time because you want to do it properly, write a proper email, or give them a call, or arrange to meet up, but it gets delayed and delayed because you never have the energy. What you should have done was just send a short message in the first place at least saying thank you, and explaining you're just tired and ill. It's just difficult when you have cancer and everyone knows about it to keep in touch with people as well as they're keeping in touch with you, but you hope that your excuse of having cancer is a good enough one and that people understand.

But what about the people who you thought were important friends, who don't get in touch with you. Ever. The ones who since you have been diagnosed with cancer have disappeared from your life. Complete radio silence. You know they're there, you know they know you have cancer, that you could die, that you are going through treatment that is making you very ill, but they don't get in touch. And they don't have the excuse of having cancer and being exhausted and ill and unable to keep up. They just appear to have made a decision that now you have cancer they don't want to be your friend any more.

What a let down it is, realising that people you thought cared about you actually don't, and they can just carry on with their lives and pretend you don't exist any more. As your Facebook friend, they have either "unfollowed" you so that they don't get your updates, or they get your updates and completely ignore them. This is fair enough for the people who are on the fringes of your life - those that you maybe went to school with but haven't seen in years, or people you once worked with for a few months years ago, and neither of you have removed the other as a friend on Facebook because you don't want to be rude. Ie the people who probably "unfollowed" you years ago when you "unfollowed" them and probably have no idea what's going on. Those people don't matter. But when the people who you thought were your real friends, who you spent time with, told everything to, talked for hours to, were there for important life events, etc, when those friends just disappear as soon as you have cancer it's a nasty blow and the hardest part is you don't know why, you just know you've lost a friend and it wasn't your decision.

1 comment:

  1. I am very sorry you are facing cancer. I am also very sorry that you have lost friends due to something you had no control over. I have lost friends too - long time friends. Friends who I considered family. So I can relate to your shock and disappointment.

    I think it is common for "friends," and even family members, to walk away. There are many reasons for this. I try to think that perhaps they were scared. Too scared to face their own mortality. This is the problem with us having expectations and believing everyone else should be like we are. We are often disappointed. The reality is, everyone is different. Everyone reacts to tragedy differently. And we can't blame them because doing so will lead to rancor, which is not healthy for us. We should avoid feeling bad due to other people's behavior, if we can.

    I hope you had a good support group.

    Funny, there were people I did not expect would be there and they were.

    One thing I find challenging is survivorship, which is why I am now blogging, and trying to reach out to others who get it. Once treatments are over, often we are no longer the same we used to be prior to cancer. Most people who haven't had cancer have a hard time dealing with that change. They expect you be back to your old self. This is when people you know of start disappearing from your life. Until they face mortality and then they understand. I will always be there for those who need me, regardless of how they treated me. But that's who I am. I also have a strong family history of cancer so that has helped me see things differently.

    Please know you are not alone. There are many patients facing the same challenges you are. It has always been helpful to me to connect with those who get it.

    Don't give up. Days will be better. You have the survivorship seed inside of you, as another blogger I know of said to me once. You will find a way to cope. It will be your new normal. You have your love ones and you also have us, women who understand where you are coming from. We will always be there walking by your side. Because we are all in this together.

    You are not alone.