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Unread 09-17-2006, 04:31 AM
Reactions of friends and family

Hello all

I'm sure this has been discussed before but i just wondered how you got on with your family and friends or how they dealt with you having cancer.

I have to say that my family have all been wonderful, i have a daughter,brother, sister and mum and they couldn't do any more for me!My mum has been brilliant, coming to appointments with me and sooo caring. One of my very close friends has been absolutely great, i couldn't ask for more. But one very close friend doesn't phone me any more, when i phone her she doesn't want to talk about it. She stops me in my tracks with a remark when i mention something that i want to get off my chest about it. For instance i told her that i had to have a blood transfusion, she said "oh my dad has them all the time!" end of discussion. Her daughter gave her a "huge" scare she thought she had a mass in her stomach, it turned out to be scar tissue from a caesarian. I just thought 'hello i AM actually suffering with this!' I really do not understand her reaction to this, it is very hurtful! She had a hysterectomy herself a couple of years ago and was ill for 2 years after and i did everything i could to help her.(i think a lot of it was psychological). I spent hours on the phone talking her through it and trying to help as much as i could. She actually said to me the other day "do you remember me having that mass when i had my hysterectomy?" (there was no mass). I just said yeah cos i couldn't be bothered to go into it. I don't understand why she is almost blanking me? My other very good friend is in on holiday in Bali at the moment and has emailed me, text me and always in contact to let me know she is thinking about me. Why can't my other friend? I feel very hurt. We have been very close friends for 11 years now.

I suppose it could be because she made such a fuss when she had her hysterectomy that she feels guilty, but we have to try and get over it sometime!

Sorry for the rant, has anyone else had this with friends or family?

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Unread 09-17-2006, 08:35 AM
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Hi Rosemary - I had a discussion about this with a fellow cancer survivor (breast, in her case) just a few weeks ago. It turns out that both of us have stopped talking about our cancer experiences/fears/hopes with people who have not had cancer (aside from a few people). I think people just don't or can't understand how cancer thoughts insideously linger long after the cancer has been removed and treatment has ended. I think people don't know what to say when we do open up. I think we live among people who don't understand that we can have a positive outlook and still have fears, concerns, etc. I think people don't truly understand what it's like to face death unless they've been there. I think this lack of support from some people is unintentional. I think all of this just comes with the territory of having had cancer. That's what I think.

When you need to talk, you know you can talk with us. s!!!
Unread 09-17-2006, 09:54 AM
Reactions of friends and family

Good question! I have tried to look back at how I have treated others with serious illness in the past and I cannot say I am totally proud of it. For this reason, I can't fault others for their behavior. Also, I find it hard to share my fears with those who are very close to me. I would rather share it with someone who has a bit of distance.

The sad fact is that there are always going to be people who will avoid you or even disappear at times like these. I have seen it many times. Maybe it is a fear of being reminded of their own mortality or maybe they don't like being around sick people. Who knows?

Regards, Blue
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Unread 09-17-2006, 11:22 AM
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Hi Rosemary! There is a recent thread that discusses this very topic from Geniemiami. The thread is titled "Oh *** Not again".

The women that replied to that thread are SO WISE! I'm just beginning my experience with cancer and have already had a few people tend to avoid me or "poo poo" me trying to trivialize what I am going through.

Mostly I have a wonderful family who are so concerned and supportive. I have a terrific husband, sister, two great grown children who are there for me and a best friend that has truly been my rock.

I've learned that I can't rely on some people that I thought I could, but from the wisdom of these dear sisters, I've come to realize that a lot of these negative reactions are probably stemmed from fear.

Take a look at that thread as I think you will see some good reasoning as to why your friend who has had some brushes with illness may be acting the way she does.

I've decided to just gather those wonderful and supportive people in my life around me like a warm blanket and keep them close. Don't let the "cold air" of others get to you!

Also I've come to depend on this site and these great people as, not only a wonderful resource, but as a very caring and supportive group. I come home after work and can't wait to get on this site to get more information and to talk to those wise and wonderful folks to help me get through all of this.

My best wishes and prayers are with you!!
Unread 09-17-2006, 01:02 PM
Reactions of friends and family

Hi Rosemary,
I have found over the years that some friends like to listen and learn and that others are very unconcerned unless it is something happening to them.
Hopefully your listening friend will home soon and you will be able to vent. In the meantime, vent all you want to us!!
There is an old Girl Scout song that goes......Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold.
Do not give up on your other friend. I am sure that there is gold in her too.
Unread 09-17-2006, 01:23 PM
Reactions of friends and family

Dear Rosemary,

It is so sad, isn't it, how some people just can't deal with the hard times? As VLN said, I just wrote about this. It's been a year since I was first diagnosed with cancer and now they found another spot that was there before, but not found till now. So I'm going through the whole friend and family thing all over again.

I have one neighbor who kind of stopped talking to me after I told her I had a hysterectomy. I didn't even mention the cancer! Now when I see her she looks sheepish and kind of avoids eye contact. Heaven forbid I should tell her I now have stage III cancer.

Some people step up, some step back. I always think it is a measure of personal character, but there's lots of reasons why some people can't deal with it. In my thread "oh ****," I was complaining about a friend who I helped through cancer a couple years ago. Now I find out that the reason she isn't being very helpful is that she is "so devastated" about my news -- hey, if she thinks she's upset . . .

My daughter has shared some fine wisdom with me about this friend. It's sad to say, but when you have cancer, you are the center of attention, and my daughter thinks this friend has (subconsciously) resented giving up the "limelight." Your friend sounds as if she, too, has gotten used to being the focus of things, and now you have "beaten" her by also having a hysterectomy and then finding out you have cancer.

The thing is that although this is painful (and it is!!!!!!), we have to give up worrying about the ones who can't help us, and turn to those who can support us. You will need support as you go through this, so just distance yourself (if you can) from this friend until the cancer times are over.

Good luck to you.
Unread 09-17-2006, 02:41 PM
Reactions of friends and family

Hello Ladies

Thank you so much for your replies, you truely are wonderful. I don't know how i would have got through this awful time without you.

Rosalie, your saying about friends being silver and gold really really touched me and sounds soo true!!! thank you for that gem!

Genie, your daughter hit the nail on the head about me stealing the "limelight" from my friend which is so sad but true!

You ladies are all GOLD!!

Unread 09-17-2006, 09:48 PM
Reactions of friends and family

Those people who are great at 'taking' are rarely good at giving. They must be the center of attention, it's their role, and they know no other role. It's the way they are, but I choose to no longer give them my time and attention. They'll just have to find others who allow them to play their role, it won't be me. Such people seem to have no problem finding their audience, but I won't be in it. To each his own. I'm not expecting them to change as I know they won't. But I also know them for what they are and I don't expect them to be anything but people on the periphery of my life. I certainly wouldn't call them close friends. Have you noticed that such people don't have really close relationships? With good reason. With so many good, caring, people in the world, don't waste time thinking about those who aren't. It's their limitations, having nothing to do with you. It's ALL about them, always.

That's my two cents!
Unread 09-18-2006, 04:37 AM
Reactions of friends and family

The silver and gold thing is so true - though some of my new friends have become gold very quickly. My husband is platinum though!

And Janie is right, some people just can't stand to have the limelight taken away, and others become car crash chasers - they like having the limelight trhough helping you. Others suddenly develop even worse dramas. Now looking back it's funny though it didn't seem so at the time.

And of course the others don't know what to say. With those people I told them that I didn't always need them to say the right thing, it was actions that counted, like one friend who sent a card and bar of chocolate every week, and another who phoned me and made me laugh and the girld friends who came on chemo duty with me and gossiped or sat quietly knitting with me.

With the people who are not reacting well, my advice is to get your husband or another friend to tell them that you'd appreciate some practical help like the occasional casserole, or child/pet sitting, or lifts to the hospital. Or a manicure. There's lots that people can do to express their love.

Z x
Unread 09-18-2006, 07:56 AM
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You are right about the crash chasers, Cat -- there are some people who kind of show up out of the blue and then disappear again.

You remind me that I'm gonna need some great knitting projects to get me through this! I love to knit and I'm fast but still can't make anything other than an afghan, scarf, or baby hat. I think I'll hire a knitting teacher to sit with me during chemo!

A card and a chocolate bar each week sounds so thoughtful and lovely. I'll have to remember that for my next long-distance friend who gets sick.

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