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Friend's Refusal to Acknowledge an Awful DX

frisco_seabiscuit
Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2008

I recently moved to a new state to begin graduate school only a month and a half after my dad was diagnosed stage IV colon cancer.

I'm having a difficult time telling new people about my situation. I guess it's mostly because I do not want to cry infront of people I hardly know. But also I don't want to parade my awful situation out in front of professors and co-workers. I'm trying to share a little bit when I feel it's necessary to explain. Sharing this information makes me feel so vulnerable. Yes, I am trying to be strong for myself. I am extremely independent, but have people who love me who I can talk to. But I'm more angry about my old best friend's refusal to acknowledge that I shared this info about my dad with her.

I phone this old best friend from the hospital the day after my dad was diagnosed. I hadn't talked to her in a month or two. I asked her to call me and said I had something to tell her. She never called. About a month later (time flew by) I finally emailed her saying "I'm sorry to tell you this in an email, but my dad has incurable cancer etc. She never wrote back. It's been a month since I sent the email, and I know she read it because she logged in to her myspace account since then. What should I do? Should I confront her saying "hey, I wrote you an email about my dad being very sick, and it really hurt that you never even responded. Why?" or do I just ignore her because she isn't a very good friend (even though I've know her for TWENTY years)?

Has anyone else experienced a friend's refusal to acknowledge an awful diagnosis? How did you deal with it?

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

I am so sorry you are dealing with your dad having cancer and being away from home. I hope your able to keep in constant contact with your father and stay on top of what is happening with him. Having had cancer and being a caregiver I can say without a doubt many friends just don't want to deal with it. Sometimes we can't even get our families or spouses to help or understand what is going on. Friends that I spent years helping on home projects or fixing their vehicles just disappeared. I didn't quit helping people but learned there are givers and takers in life. Some I though were friends were only there to use me. An extreme example of this was my sister-in-law. She needed a divorce from an abusive husband and had 3 children. I paid for her divorce, kept her in her house and worked my butt off cleaning up years of garbage. Including a garage full of trash her husband was too lazy to take to the curb for pickup. I told her I wanted nothing back but her friendship. When I had cancer I never even got a phone call. I quickly learned to write these people off in my life as it was not worth the stress it was causing. Yes it hurts but we can't keep beating ourselves up over people that just don't get it or only think of themselves. Find the givers and get rid of the takers. I am sure you will find a friend that really cares about you and your needs. A person that asks how you and your family are doing and does not turn away before you have time to answer. One that always seems to contact you at the right time when your having a bad day. I found a friend at the right time. One that had a tooth pulled and passed out in a store waiting for meds. After the paramedics had finished with her she called me to see how I was doing with my chemo. That is the kind of friend you want. For now I would develope a good relationship with a college counselor that you can talk too. And you always have everyone here when you want to unload. God bless you and your father. Slickwilly

frisco_seabiscuit
Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank you for your advice Slickwilly.

When I am finally honest with myself, I can acknowledge that this "old best friend" has ALWAYS been a taker. Over the past twenty years she has only bothered to call or visit when it has been convenient. When I vent to my boyfriend about this he too reminds me that if she doesn't call back or visit it is not that important to her. I am sad because it's difficult to let go of an old friend, especially since she's one of the few people aside from family I've known my whole life.

I want to call her out and force her to apologize for her uncaring and selfish behavior, but I won't. She will never admit it, and the energy I spent would be wasted. It's shocking to hear that your sister-in-law, who you spent so much time helping, never bothered to call. I'm sorry she and others treated you that way.

I did try to talk casually to a different friend who didn't bother to show up for my goodbye party, but he was defensive and made me feel like it was my fault in some weird way. I'm not doing that again! It's not worth it.

slickwilly's picture
slickwilly
Posts: 339
Joined: Feb 2007

We can talk anytime you want. Its not like I am out of touch with the world as I have 3 daughters. One being 24 and twins at 22. Only my oldest daughter has found that real true friend. Its such a great thing and I just love seeing them together. I consider her part of my family. Now back to you! Boyfriends will come and go and at this age most are not the best at listening to problems. They are more interested in having a good time. But a hug is always good when your hurting inside and I understand that. I hope you have a caring boyfriend that supports you and treats you with the respect you deserve. As I am sure your dad loves you very much he wants you to continue your education and do well in life. I am sure it was a very hard decision for both of you when you had to leave his side. But I also think your dad does not want you to see him suffer or go through treatments. Cancer is very hard on every family and carries a huge emotional toll. Keep in touch with your dad and let him know how your doing in school. Try to concentrate on good or funny things to bring his spirits up. Tell him you love him everytime you have a chance. Tell him what he has done to make you the person that you are and if your proud of him say it. And if you can't do it without breaking down then write him a letter he can read over and over. It will mean so much to him right now. I still have letters my daughters wrote me 5 years ago when it looked like I was not going to make it. Never give up hope as miracles happen everyday. I know its hard finding that lifetime friend that is there in the good and bad. Its very hard for a young woman when she does not have another young woman to talk too. And its even harder finding someone to understand what your going through. When my daughters were in school they would bring home friends that were in trouble. Some pregnant, some abused and some just needing a meal and a hug. One week I had 7 extra kids. They are all doing fine and you will too. Its painful now but you have a full life ahead of you. Try to keep your head up and be the best person you can be. If you want to dump on any subject here is my personal e-mail. Slickwilly007@msn.com Just put frisco or seabiscuit in the subject so I know its not spam. Catch you later Slickwilly

heidelicious
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2008

I had the same thing happen with almost my entire friend circle! It is a tremendous blow, and also a fabulous wake up call when things like this happen in any situation really. I have moved to a different state to be my sister's caregiver, have relatively no friends (outside of the group that cares for my sister), and really don't have time to socially network. I haven't heard a WORD from anyone back home. With incessant emails, phone calls and texts, the same result. It's hard for people who are not in our situation to understand how to handle such an emotionally charged issue. Regardless of what your friend is going through in her own world, it is insensitive for her to not at the least say "hey, I will call you when I am in a better position to talk" etc. I think you should send her the message of your hurt feelings, and then bury it. There are people out there who are more sensitive and caring and giving then people in our lives who don't want to DEAL with something like other people's pain. It is worth it to be selective. Your friend is an energy drainer. You certainly don't need that. Eliminate the crazy makers, and establish a new network. I know it's a bit of a lonely path getting there, but the support group you will establish in the end, won't leave you high and dry, like so many people tend to. Hang in there!

nsquirrely
Posts: 50
Joined: May 2007

This issue has been a very hard one for me as well. Even after more than a year has passed it continues to hurt me. In my case, I was the one dx with cancer. I don't have a lot of close friends and only have my children and my grandchildren for family that is close. Someone who I had always counted on to be there when I really needed them and that I would have always been there for as well,deserted me when I truly needed that friendship. When I let her know what was happening, she said just let me know if you need me to go with you or anything. Once I finally was told that it was cancer and had time to adjust to the idea, I needed someone I could talk to about it. My children were dealing with their own feelings and were there for me buy I needed someone to share my feelings with that wasn't family. I reached out to my closest friend only to be ignored completely. She said she would come to visit me and never showed up. Through it all there was never a visit, a phone call or even a card to let me know she was thinking about me. At one point, I ran into a mutual friend who told me she had said that she couln't deal with it because of her mother's death due to cancer. I understood how that might make it hard for her but then again I may have been some help to her in dealing with that as well. I didn't know her when she lost her mother.
Anyway, I felt abandoned and that I had lost my closest friend. Even after all this time and my recovery she still has not reached out to me. Recently, I was out at a local restuarant and she was there with her finance. I wanted to go talk to her but was so afraid of rejection that i stayed away out of fear. I hoped that she would make the effort. That didn't happen either. On their way out in passing she said how are you and I said fine to her back as she was walking away from me.
Although, many others that I never realized thought of me as a friend have stepped up to be there for me I still have to deal with the ones who stepped away. There are days when it is still hard to realize that it is just a fact of life. Cancer separates the good friends that will be there for you from the ones who won't be there when you really need them.
I'm sure the my that rambling on tells you that I am still hurt by this and trying to deal with it. In closing, although some step away from you others take the step toward you. I'm grateful for the ones who did and for the new friends I have made here. This site has been a great source of support for me and I would never had been able to deal with my emotions without the support I received from all the wonderful people I've met here.
Hugs and Prayers
Shirley

frisco_seabiscuit
Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2008

Thank you heidelicious and Shirley for posting how you dealt with this kind of thing. It helps to know that other people have a hard time letting go of how hurt they were. I still haven't heard from that friend, and I'm still upset about it, but I don't really have the urge to call her and yell at her.

I guess ignoring a friend in a time of need like that is so counter-intuative to me. When a distant friend's boyfriend died of brain cancer I gave a card to a mutual friend to give to her. I just thought it was so sad and tragic that I needed to acknowledge what a loss she had experienced. I still haven't bumped into that distance friend, and it's been almost two years I think. But I feel like it might've made a difference to her to know I felt sad for her loss.

I thought that most people would find it easy to comfort a good old friend, but that doesn't seem like the case with this friend. I've made a few "friends" in my new city, but it's very lonely. I hang out with other people from my masters program and gave my number to another person I have a class with. I guess it's a big deal for me to try to reach out because I'm totally afraid of disappointment. I give myself points for trying! It really doesn't help that my boyfriend (going on four years) doesn't want to move here in the foreseeable future. Feeling at a loss in relationship direction I'm trying to focus on my career.

Time is best spent when distracted, right?

nsquirrely
Posts: 50
Joined: May 2007

Hi Frisco
I am glad that knowing you aren't the only one who has lost friends to cancer has helped you. It is still a very hard thing to deal with at a time when you need support. I have lost more friends than I can count over the years due to various reasons but this one seemed to hurt more than all the rest put together. As you said, anything would have meant a lot coming from her like the card you so thoughtfully sent to a passed friend. It is a shame that people don't see our illness as a chance to help and grow emotionally. I felt that it would have been a two-way thing. Reaching out to others in our time of need not only helps us but them as well.

I could have pushed more to have contact with her but felt it was mute to do so as she didn't seem willing. I thought about contacting her again when a mutual friend told me the reason she had stayed away. A very smart person(my daughter)said why so she can not be there for you again if you need her.
Even though I struggle with this all the time, I've learned that it is best to let it go and use my energy for more productive things.

Hugs and prayers
Shirley

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