They say they care, but they seem to have zero understanding about what you're going through. They do not give you consideration in terms of the painful struggle you find yourself in. You're going to be fine, they say, and accuse you of wanting special attention, even when you ask nothing of them other than that they allow you to cook them dinner and entertain them with your last remaining shreds of energy. It's like, because you have cancer, you become despicable in their eyes, and a whipping post, a thing to scowl at hatefully. Wish I knew how to cope with this.
I am sorry you feel this way. I wonder whether we are vulnerable due to our condition and that it is not that people don’t care or want to spend time with us, is it that we are living with diagnosis 24/7 and they aren’t. Their life keeps going and ours stands still sometimes. I feel very lonely too. Please take care. Xxxx
Thank you, Granny. I think you're mostly right. It's easy for them to minimize your condition because they don't like it either, and wish you were healthy still. Lets pretend like nothing is wrong. Anybody not undegoing treatment cannot understand. Don't think I'm paranoid, but there's a heightened sensitivity to insensitivity in others.
In my experience and opinion, people show their true colours in extreme situations like cancer.
(But hey, there are hints along the way, even without cancer in the picture).
My immediate impression: you're surrounded by c***ts.
Maybe you're an enabler, or maybe you just had bad luck, but one thing cancer can teach us is that time is short and precious, and you probably should not spend/waste it giving too much attention and power to bad situations and people.
Extreme scenarios (like cancer) give us and the people around us, the chance to rise up and show a finer side of ourselves. Drive someone to hospital, lift their spirits, etc. If the people around you are measurably treating you like shit (in your opinion) the answer is simple (in my opinion).
Cut them loose.
You're better off without toxic people in your life, and honestly if you've surrounded yourself with Takers, and you no longer feel disposed to, or in a position to, take up the role of Martyr/Giver .. then just cut them loose.
A healthy relationship has to be able to withstand unbiased scrutiny. Your relationships (based on a quick & superficial read) strike me as unhealthy, and personally, I wouldn't waste my time on them. It doesn't matter if they are a mother or a brother, I'd cut them loose. The only family member this advice doesn't directly apply to is your children or your spouse, those are (in my opinion) more profound commitments.
Anyone else ? If they don't earn your love and attention ... simple ... don't give it.
Focus on yourself, fulfil your needs, you're in a shitty fight, you deserve people in your corner, not a gaggle of dickheads sitting in the back looking at their phones, or even watching with a little contempt and the occasional "boo".
Consider moving forward, mate.
Wow, thank you CaptainAustrali! That's exactly what I needed to hear. Gives me a lot to think about in terms of how to get along in this weird time of uncertainty and pain. The parties I'm referring to are my girlfriend of five years and her nine-year-old daughter, both of whom I love very much (and they claim to love me). They live only seven miles away, but do not care to make the trip to see me, and when they do, it's constant nasty faces from the girl and the stamp of approval from the mother.
And I listen to their ailments. If I mention anything about my cancer, I always get a response that undermines the experience. As such, I avoid mentioning anything about it. In the context of cancer she says things like, "If you die, only your body will perish. We are spirit," which I take as a platitute disguised as some kind of wisdom. So sure, might as well die then, and anyway, "Cancer is not a disease," she says (another empty phrase), and "You're fine, you're gonna be fine. I'm sure of it," which is the same thing she said before my colonoscopy, by the way, a colonoscopy that, four years ago, when I brought it up as something i would like to do, she ridiculed, saying that instead I should get my pulse checked such as they do in Eastern Medicine. I'm an impressionable guy, and I lost my determination to get the colonoscopy. She basically talked me out of it. But finally there was no other option, as I started bleeding.
I think you're essentially right, CaptainAustrali, but I love them, and though they are not the only ones in my life, I feel most connected to them. I wish the feeling was reciporacal. I always thought I only needed someone to love, not to necessarily be loved in return, so it was okay if they didn't, but now, with the cancer, I'm finding that I really need to be loved too. I need tenderness and affection in as true a form as it can be given. So, like Willaim Faulkner who said, "Between grief and nothing, I'll take grief," I too will opt for grief, at least until I can get my shit together and be whole again. I've already done the neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy and the surgery, but now am finding that adjuvant therapy is a whole lot worse. And I've only had one treatment so far. Compared with doing Folfox, taking Xeloda pills, which was my treatment during neoadjuvant, was like taking aspirin. I know it's gonna be rough. Thanks again for your detailed and thoughtful response.
Sorry, based on the extra info, need to make a little addendum, if that's OK..
Kids .. well, you can't expect them to have any specific tools to deal with anything, especially big ole grown-up concepts like cancer.
Parents: .. they have to be protective of their kids.
So one possibility is, if they're minimising your disease and not relating to your circumstance ... well ... it's a strong possibility that it's because they're looking at it purely from the vantage point of the child.
The priorities there would be to make it 'no big deal', and possibly even to shy away from the topic. So the minimisation you're experiencing might be a natural tactic to downplay the disease so as to be protective of the child.
My caveat around 'cut them loose' is that it doesn't apply to your children, and it sounds like you have a bit of a parenting role with this kid. You can't expect understanding from a child, and everything the mother does & says will be from the vantage point of trying to mitigate and manage a little girl's first experience with mortality (which although specific to you, opens the door to mummy's mortality, her own, the certainty of the whole world around her, it's a mind-fuck).
If it were parents, brothers, sisters, I'd say: "buddy, I'm taking a break from this relationship, I'm in a difficult fight and I need to focus". Or you don't even need to say anything, just reduce contact, and if pressed that's when you say "I have health problems I'm dealing with, I don't want contact right now" .. that kind of thing (specifically tailored to the circumstance).
I wouldn't hesitate to cut ties if relationships are unhealthy or unhelpful.
But with a partner/kid, it's a little bit different, what I'd adjust my remarks/advice into is more like this:
- talk to the partner about her expectations in managing this life event with the kid (concerns about what to disclose ---- I have 3 kids myself and chose to hide/minimise the disease until I knew I'd beaten it, but it was a tough call).
- explain and assert your own needs, for comfort, loving contact, support
- find a way to assimilate these needs (eg if it's "dont talk about big C in front of the kid", you can find a way to get that and the help you need by managing information).
- if those needs cant be assimilated, or the opposite partner is unwilling or incapable, THEN say "listen I need to take a break while I deal with my cancer" (if you feel that's the best and most productive approach for your health & focus)
(And after the Cancer, you do a stock-take and decide what to do with the relationship).
At the end of the day though, it's *you* fighting for *your* life, so you need to prioritise your morale, focus & mental health.
My suggestion would be to have a frank bit of dialogue about your needs (in lieu of arbitrarily following the 'cut them loose' advice). But the main thrust of my message is simple: you're important, you have a right to fight, you have a chance to survive, or at least you're not dead yet, and if there are people around you who aren't on-board for helping with that, ignoring them or cutting them loose is a completely OK option in my opinion.
Dear one who is so loved. It’s OK..we all stand with you.. we walk beside you and lift you up when
you fall. We’ve been in the same place as you. Fatigue is enormous.. Daily walks helped me although
towards the end of chemo I couldn’t even manage that. You are special and unique..choose from
your loved ones, one who listens and tell them how it is for you.. Go gently...
We are all with you...
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