There is a saying, you can pick your friends but you can't pick your family! I am the youngest and my father died when I was 22. I've always run around after everyone including my mum (opposite of what most people think about the youngest).
The counsellor I saw during treatment, identified that I needed help with coping and to learn to say "no". She also advised its not the best idea to write people off or to make decisions on the "outer" ie. when you are sick or angry. Wait for a cooling off or neutral period and then make a decision/choice.
We cannot control other's behavior, only our own. So I've lowered my expectation knowing that those nearest and dearest are trying to help in their "own" way.
I think friends, family and cancer perception in the media is somewhat skewed. The focus is on funding and research and I understand it is very important.
The reality is that people don't know what to say, how to act or what to do for someone going through treatment and after no matter how close. Unless you have been "through cancer", they can't understand. We are anomalies, we have faced death and survived. We are not in hospital.
I have to say the level of care I received of excellent and I couldn't speak more highly of everyone on the treatment team.
Again, I thought I'd comment even though I'm not a cancer survivor but have had a similar experience.
Some may have read that in 2006, I had a major motorcycle accident in which I certainly could have died. After my accident, my mum flew from Perth (hates flying too) within a day to be by my side in hospital. My dad on the other hand, not a word. My parents are divorced and my dad was quite abusive when I was younger so I didn't hold high expectations for him. But he didn't fly over, he didn't call (he did call my mother to ask how my cats were o_O), didn't send flowers. Nothing. While in therapy not long after, I completely broke down, absolutely devastated at my dads lack of giving a shit. It seemed he didn't care whether I lived or died and I couldn't comprehend how a parent could be like that.
My mum was just amazing, caring for me when I couldn't even move and then sensing my growing independence, flew back to Perth and continued to support me from afar. I adore my mum for being there for me when I needed her and for being my mum.
I, too, wondered how could I ever forgive my father. My therapist asked me why I felt that I needed to? Why did I have to forgive him? Why could I not just accept that that is who he is? He has always been a narcissistic selfish bastard so why would he change now? She helped me understand that we feel disappointment because someone hasn't lived up to our expectations of what they should do, instead of accepting them for who they are based on previous behaviour. Once I accepted that he would never change, my emotional reaction disappeared. And I felt I didn't feel pressured to forgive him but just accept what is and with acceptance came forgiveness because they anger was gone. Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting, it just means accepting something you cannot change.
I choose what relationship I have with my dad, not the other way around. It's all on my terms now and its because I have forgiven myself.
On another note, I thoroughly believe in the trauma causing cancer. My husband Rob endured a tumultuous 5 year relationship which caused him to bottle so much anger and hurt for so long, because he didn't want to leave his son. Once he left and he found happiness with me, he was able to release a lot of that bottled up emotion and be who he wanted to be. A year and a half after we got together, his cancer reared its head and I can only wonder if all that anger, hurt and pain bottled has manifested itself in his cancer.
I look forward to the book Loralee :)
Thanks you for your response. Its interesting that your therapist helped you with acceptance and in turn forgiveness, I am currently seeing a psych who is guiding me to the same place. I do have alot of built up anger and certainly my husband and I (both in remission) have experienced our fair share of hurt and in turn anger so I do agree that there is something to the whole anger and cancer thing.
I have also been exploring eastern philosophy to guide me in the right direction, you are so right that we have high expectations that when our life is on the line those who have wronged will right for a change.
Loralee's book is now for sale, she has unfortunately been diagnosed for the 4th time recently and I am sure would love to know you are interested in her book and story.
thanka again XX Amanda
In relation to support from family and friends during cancer treatment,I found the emotional aftermath of cancer the most difficult experience of all. I could deal with surgery, chemo and radio but I was ill equiped to deal with the disappointment of what I thought were close relationships with some family and friends, relationships that proved to be not as strong as I believed.
I found that discovering the weaknesses not the strengths of some relationships, heartbreaking.
I believe I went through a mourning process for the loss of the relationship with my sister, a sister I had always believed would be there for me, but she wasn't. We still talk, not as often, I can't feel the same closeness, and this really cuts me to the bone. I taught my son, to love his family, family will be there to love and to help you when you need it, I believed that myself. Now I realise that I have to re-evaluate those ideals.
Some friends disappeared, maybe because most of my energy was concentrated on treatment and I had little left for socialising, or maybe because they didn't know what to say, I don't know for sure.
I lost my sense of humour for a time, not many understand what it feels like to loose the humour in life, but to me it was important.
I went on a search for "ME", I read books, I went to forums about "Living well after cancer" and to "A day with Petrea King", I joined a support group (which I highly recommend)and I joined this website.
I still have a way to go but I am feeling stronger and happier with each new day.
Cancer changes the direction of your life, it is a sudden change, most of us find change of any kind hard to cope with but I guess learning to adapt our behaviour and responses to others behaviour, ultimately will benefit our own mindset and health.
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.