I just want to say I'm really glad I found this site as I don't know where to go to with any of this. I would really be grateful if you could share some experiences...
I moved to Australia form Central Europe and skin cancer isn't really something common over there, especially at a younger age. So I don't really have anyone to talk to ho went though something like this and I don't have many friends here yet, but thankfully a wonderful partner who has been caring amazingly for me during this time. However I don't want to put more pressure on him and the few incredible people who already did SO much.
I'm just so confused at the moment, it's been a bit over two months and I had 6 surgeries, a big skin flap surgery at the hospital on the shin that is still painful after 4 weeks, but I was really lucky compared to some of the things that others have to go through, thanks to the Melanomas being caught at an early stage. I feel guilty that it affects me so much emotionally while others been through SO much worse, but also I can't change that I have to acknowledge that things are not the same anymore. My life is not the same anymore. I have felt things, been to dark places when that call came and in the last months that simply someone who never experienced this, just can't understand.
I try not to make a big deal out of it, but to me it still is a big deal. People think and say that it's done with the surgery and even make insensitive comments like: Great, now you can enjoy the Australian summer again! Nobody seems to understand the anxiety of it coming back, being elsewhere in the body, the changes to lifestyle and emotion, not being allowed to be outside for 5 hours of the day, not being able to participate in normal activites, the cabin fever of recovery...
But the worst part is, worse than all of it, is some of my best and oldest friends have completely distanced themselves the minute I spoke the word "cancer". One wrote me after a month of zero contact after I messaged her that I have Melanoma, that she "can't deal with the thought of death" and apologized. I thanked her for the honesty and appreciated that she at least said something, but it just took me a couple of weeks to get over the hurt and for NYE I wrote her that I miss her so much and that I would like to be close again and just talk it through and that she is one of the most important people in my life and that I'll be thinking about her at midnight. Today she answered me that my message made her angry....that she thinks she'd been a good enough friend before and that she doesn't appreciate that I said it hurt me and can't deal with "peoples problems". I'm so upset I can barely breathe.
I've read here that this happens a lot but I'm so shocked how people you thought were your best friends can turn into entirely different people. I messaged her back saying that I'm very hurt of her lack of empathy and that we apparently don't have the 12 year old, close friendship I thought we did.
I don't know what to do with these feelings, how do you cope? Did you have to lose or cut people out and if so, did you say it to them directly? How do you deal with this hurt, when you rationally know you're probably better off without someone like that?
And how do you get back to "normal" after going through something like this? Do you ever? How can I go outside without being deathly afraid of the sun, I can't imagine a life always afraid of the sun...not even enjoying the precious time given after this shock? I moved here because I love the weather, the swim, the outdoors – it makes me so deeply sad that the very thing I love could well, ultimately kill me (sorry if this sounds dramatic, it feels very dramatic some days)...always in the back of my head. I know people have even worse problems, but I really would like to know if anyone out there feels like this too?
I think many of us have experienced similar issues, my experience is that many people find it difficult to deal with the word cancer, even close family and friends who know you intimately. I am happy to discuss my experiences with other people and I have just moved on or accepted that many people find the topic intimidating. Although I have not suffered melanoma but had a malignant sun cancer post other cancer treatments I am now very sun sensitive, never go outside without being appropriate covered, hat, long sleeves, trousers etc, not what I wanted but it is what it is. You have a whole new discussion group available to you, who are empathetic and understanding, you are not lonely now.
One thing that took me 8 months to come to grips with was the realization that both the cancer and the treatment...pretty much eradicated the person I used to be. The person I was and too many of the people who associated with him...now had different priorities and outlooks.
Again, this realization is all too recent but what brought this epiphany to my mind is the fact that I sought new groups and new environments. You see, i found that by being a stranger had the advantage of making friends who simply accepted me, my "new look" and "new interests and priorities" as well as limitations.
Seek out new venues and you very likely find new strengths as well as acceptance...and personal usefulness. You will be amazed how your experience can make a positive difference in other people's lives.
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