When I was diagnosed with leukaemia I found I had a lot of caring friends. The people I thought would support me didn't and the people I least expected came through for me. It really is a time when you see who your real friends are.
Our families are mostly interstate, so we did a lot of our journey on our own. I was shocked, awed and amazed at how many wonderful friends I had here and back home. There were a few disappointments, which were mostly my family, but to be totally honest they are not the sort of people I would choose to surround myself with if it wasnt for that blood tie. In saying that the few disappointments are long forgotten so what does that say about the calibre of those relationships?!?! I did have an experience a couple of years ago that upset me for a while. I participated in the Worlds Greatest Shave, organised it to be done at the local tavern and got rid of the hair. My then 14 yr old daughter shaved the back of her hair in support of what I was doing and for that wonderful cause. I was so proud of her, such a brave thing to do at that age. But anyway, when school went back she got called names and when she complained to a teacher was told, 'well if you insist on doing these things.......' I was gobsmacked. That very afternoon I went to the Westfield. It was a bit chilly so I wrapped a beautiful scarf one of my supportive friends had bought for me around my head to keep my naked noggin warm. A well to do looking lady bumped into me by accident. When she looked up and saw my scarf wrapped head she recoiled as if I was poisonous. So being the cheeky little bugger that I am I blew on her and said 'did u catch it?' Childish? Mean? Wasnt my intention but geez did my daughter, my friends and I giggle about that for ages. Her irrational fear is not my problem and hopefully she now has something to think about.
Felt a need to update my "story" on here. I ended up e-mailing my best friend to ask why she had distanced herself. In my e-mail, I gave her the benefit of the doubt as to it being something going on in her own life vs. my having breast cancer and, sure enough, that is what she said. She also said she felt so bad about not being there for me and what a poor "best friend" she was. But she also said she didn't want to lose the friendship and that meant the world to me. So, we found a way to reconnect. I have moved 2+ hours away to start a new life (went back to school to study nutrition and start a new career!). I see her as much as either of our schedules allow but she leads a very busy life so it's not easy. I know now that it's best to communicate, and ask the hard questions, because when you assume something, it's not usually the case.
I hope this update helps some of the others who may read this collection of posts.
"Life is what you make it."
Hi Steve, I can relate to what you are saying. I have gone through breast cancer and found it really dose sort out who are real friends. One of my friends of 25 years felt she just couldn’t handle me being sick and has distanced herself from me. I have tried to keep up the friendship but keeping in contact with her but all she is doom and gloom so I feel this is one friend that is not worth being around. Other friends seem to think that if she and others like her were real friends they would get over their own hang ups and be there for you. On the other hand I have what I would have called social friends really pull together and have now become true friends that will be there for me for life. It is nice to hear that other cancer sufferers have been treated the same and we are not on our own. I thought I had done something wrong but was assured by my real friends that it was not me it was her.Take care and don’t forget we are all here for you
Yes we've all had friends like that. Kathy it was great that you emailed your friend bringing it all out in the open to reconnect as it allowed her to apologise and offer to make it up to you. I like the idea of say after a few months sending an email to give those who weren't able to handle the cancer thing a chance to reconnect (but obviously a desire to make up for it). Sometimes guilt around not being there for us can lead people not to get in contact when we'd prefer better late than never. For me it's not just the not being there but the unwillingness to say I'm sorry and more importantly how can I make it up to you.
I recently had an experience with a long term friend. I'd done all the travelling and so forth to visit but of course after being diagnosed with work and treatment and so forth I naturally keep up in touch with those that made the effort with me including those who lived a fair distance away but were willing to travel out my way or at least meet at a half way point. Anyhow this friend emailed at the end of treatment accusing me of ignoring her and so forth (she gets free travel and doesn't work it costs me $40 plus 4 hours for each round trip which I have to squeeze between work days) so I was honest and said yes because cancer treatment and work and other things makes one more busy I have been prioritising local friends who have made it easy to meet up as well as those who live at a distance who are willing to come out my way or at least meet at a half way point, however I'm more than happy to meet to discuss it if you'd like to come down my way.
I have had friends who have stopped responding to my update emails which after the first 3 or 4 I spaced out ie one at the end of first lot of chemo, one at the end of second lot of chemo and a final one at the end of radio. Sure they may be busy but a response had a quick read, good to hear from you, caught up with things but will respond later. One friend I'd mentioned I'd be travelling up past her place (naming the month) and would like to call in but heard nothing.
I guess this experience will mean that we will make new friends through the experience, some friends will pleasantly surprise us and others will become a lower priority.
I have to admit that I was shocked and completely surprised to read so many negative experiences from others who were diagnosed with cancer.
I acknowledge that I have always been blessed to have incredible family, friends and work colleagues. When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer (Stage C) at the end of January the support just came flowing in from all corners. My support base has been incredible and has helped me immensely to stay positive and upbeat throughout my bowel surgery, getting used to my temporary illeostomy, and six months of aggressive chemo. I am about to have my 12th and last chemo session and everyone continues to stay invlolved in my recovery.
I regularly send email updates as I just cannot catch up with everyone but they are patiently waiting in the wings following my last operation to remove my infusaport and close up my illeostomy.
My only negative experience came from my boyfriend of a year. I ended the relationship 4 days after my cancer diagnosis as he was the only person in my close circle who didn't/couldn't support me. But I accept that in life you will always encounter negative experiences. I choose to concentrate on all the positives instead.
I cannot fathom how loved ones can turn their back on someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. But life is incredibly short and I suggest you focus on those relationships that are real and nurturing. Know that you are a survivor and embrace the inner strength that got you through this whole ordeal. Forget those that chose to forget you - there are so many other beautiful people in this world to meet.
As the C word WAS a no no, in my culture.
My parents asked me NOT to tell everyone that I had bowel cancer.
However, I was determined to change the taboo of the C word, especially after my trauma with the cancer.
Spending 37 days in the hospital, it was part of my therapy to talk about my cancer.
I started telling anyone who wanted to listen.
The twist of fate came within a few months after I had come out of hospital when my elderly father found he had mouth cancer.
Thank God my coming out and telling everyone about my cancer helped my dad tell his friends. He is fortunate to have kept all his friends and he loves the way people rally around him and ask him "how he is doing".
The situation was reversed with me and I found that the phone calls stopped, people don't call around any more, we are not asked out as often.
But the positive out of all this is I am happy with my own company whilst my husband is at work, and I can actually go to a coffee lounge / restaurant by myself and enjoy it. This is something I would never have done before the cancer.
My husband and I spend qualiaty time with our immediate family, when we do get together.
I have time on my hands, so I endeavour to get more involved with the Community and help and support others.
Through the Cancer Support Group I am meeting really lovely great people who understand what I have been through and so we share our experiences.
Cheers to all on this site.
Hey I think this is a real problem, after battling this disease for over 3 years I find that the number of friends I have can be counted on one hand. I have recently just lost the one person that had stuck with right throughout. I think initially people do not know what to say or how they can help and the best way in dealing with it is to ignore it. I also feel that the crap that our carers go through takes its toll and they just get burnt out. I totally understand but sometimes I get angry about the toll it takes here and the fact that you basically end up alone. Not sure really whether the effort was worth it.
Hi, i have been searching all over for a thread like this since being diagnosed with breast cancer in april 2010. i just dont know what to do anymore. in the beginning i got texts offering support from friends but i foubd out they are just words and they would never follow through regarding offering too listen or be there if i needed it.1 close friend who i always had daily contact with and i have always made sure i am there for 110% when she needed it,started of saying this is our journey we will do it together..then a few months down the line started distancing herself and telling me shes bored of it now,changes every conversation towards herself and made every excuse not to see me or saying she is too busy too text or call,other old friends just wont take my calls or reply on text. i havent asked anything ever from these friends or gone on about my treatment unless they asked 1 question. i just feel an idiot and a bit used for being there the times they needed me. i know they probably dont know what to say or do, but they know me well enough to know a bit of company or a day out would do me a world of good,and i have told them this,they tell me there too busy, so all i can think by this is they really dont care or im not important to them, i love my friends and really thought we were close and dont understand why they are behaving this way, one friend recently got a new boyfriend and just goes on and on about him which is great shes happy but that doesnt mean forget your oldest friends totally. i make out too everyone that im fine,but really i sit in my room 24/7 just thinking and reading on the net(im not a teenager lol) im late 30s, i feel like im going mad when i sleep i have nightmares that im dying while im awake im constantly worrying and working myself up that im losing my friends,i am extremly private and hide my feelings from my family,and i cant go out to meet people due too side effects and i wouldnt be able to face it on my own.
Basically i just feel whats the point waking up!!!! ive started drinking too try blocking everything out but i know that doesnt help. im just lost, i cant see anything getting better when i get through treatment i still wont have my friends that i cared for so much and loved.......is this it worried and lonely forever.x
Wow !!! That was all meant to be said and Good on you for GETTING it off your chest. That in itself will help you move on. It isn't an easy road, but we all have to take it. Sometimes alone.
All I can say to you for the time being is PLEASE make contact with the Cancer Support Helpline.
Since I called them, I am now meeting really lovely great people who understand what I have been through and so we share our experiences.
This might help you.
Do you do any meditation? This has helped me through some tough times. Try it if you haven't.
One thing I learnt a long time ago, is
EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON.
This is how we all grow. Sometimes things are not fair, and sometimes we just have to accept that "THIS IS HOW IT IS"
Got to run for now, but will check in on you a little later.
God Bless you and keep you safe.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.