Sep 18, 2010 - 10:48 am
I haven't got alot of energy back yet but noticed that this topic seemed to be coming up a fair amount lately and since that is what I am dealing with, in spades right now, thought I would throw my 3 cents into the pool.
Abandonment. It sucks doesn't it? Well take heart, if you can in something like that, in that you are not alone with this aspect of cancer - at all. Some are lucky and have very supportive families and friends - they are the lucky ones but many of us aren't as fortunate and even the cancer surivors who do have support oftentimes still feel many of the same emotional issues of abandonment too from time to time. It goes with the survivor syndrome, and I don't know why I used that term but it seemed to fit.
The reasons people stay away are many and most of you have probably already realized: fear, not knowing what to say or do, feeling that the survivor is 'overdoing it' - that it's been a long time since treatment so 'get on with it', feels that we are just lazy and whiney and are hooked on our illness - you probably have thought of all of those things. They all apply to us at some point I think, I mean in how we are viewed, even those who have supportive people around them I am sure wonder if that is what they really think in their private moments. The reasons for this abandonment are as varied I guess as people themselves.
I know that for me my children's seeming loss of compassion, my ex who has refused to supply the medical income he promised and friends that just don't bother to call anymore - a 2 line email from them I guess they think will do - guilt setting in on them not calling me I feel sometimes - really hurts a survivor but few people truly understand what we go through on a daily basis with side effects and late effects from our treatments and illness.
I personally think that part of this phenomenon of abandonment is, in part, a bit of a boomerang effect from the whole 'rah rah rah I will beat this cancer thing' campaigns that you see all over. I am not saying that positivity and exposure to the fight and hope isn't important cause it is BUT BUT on the other hand I really think that in all of that hoopla over being the 'strong survivor' we ourselves feel that if we complain about the side effects and treatments and fear we have then we feel we are not being brave and you know what? WE DON'T HAVE TO HIDE THAT. We feel that we are weak compared to all of those survivors out there marching for the cure and again I say, that's needed - the marches, not saying that's a bad thing at all BUT those of us who can't do that kind of thing are then compared to those survivors who can, maybe not outright but to those around us, perhaps a little - just enough to invalidate our health situation.
We need to vent, we need to tell them it hurts when it does, we need to cry, we need to need those around us to show us they still care and mos timportantly understand and in so doing validate us. Nope, it's not an easy job, this cancer stuff, for the survivor or their families and friends but what are families and friends for if not to be there when one falls down? Everyone is different in how they handle stress and illness in their immediate circles and some just can't take the reality of the illness or what it means to a survivor on a daily basis. They just don't understand.
I really hope I made sense here because I am still recovering from surgery and this anaesthetic will not leave my bod. lol.
Simply put I think alot more needs to be done to help people in general understand the survivor, there is alot more than an initial diagnosis and treatment - it's the afterwards.
For the survivor themselves please don't underestimate the issue of stress on your health. Just last night on Larry King they did a whole show on the human brain and the issue of stress, as most of us have already figured out, can in itself cause disease and how much stress do we all have in a single day, with or without cancer? There are also studies being done on Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in the cancer survivor, something I have personally said 'duh' to for a long time but finally the medical profession has come crawling along and now they are investigating the possibility? WHAT POSSIBILITY - sheeesh, cancer can be trauma. So for those of you who have flashbacks of treatment days or related scenes that repeat over and over concerning your cancer experiences think about talking with your doctor about seeing a trauma and anxiety expert. YOU AREN'T ALONE.
I think knowing that even abandonment is a situation that isn't JUST YOU, that it can be part of our cancer journey and is for many goes far in helping, it does me at least, because on a site like this we then can feel free to explain our situations without fear of invalidation or shame and find some support in so doing. Validation is very important to the survivor, validation of self, health and love. It makes us better.
People just don't understand the survivors path. Take heart though, I am sure that way down inside most of the people close to you do care but they just don't know what to do with it all - it's alot. That's no excuse for abandonment but sometimes some just can't cope with the constant reminders through our symptoms that cancer came to visit their family/friend, one day.
Hoping you all find the support you need and deserve, Blessings, Bluerose.