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How do you survive when people you love decide to leave you because you have cancer?

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

I'm not sure how to express this. I have several friends and family members who have said goodbye. Two freinds I've had for 30 plus years have recently said goodbye to our friendship. I'm very sad and wondering why. The only explanation I have come to understand is my cancer.

Has anyone else had this experience?

gagee
Posts: 321
Joined: Sep 2010

Maybe they just need time to adjust to you having cancer. It can be scary for them as well. My daughters didn't think I had any thing so terrible because my cancer was small. But..... to me it was CANCER.....

My Prayers are with You,

This is a great place to be right now. Everyone is just great.

Diana

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

I think this is a great resource... thanks for the encouragement and sharing.

tufi000's picture
tufi000
Posts: 439
Joined: Jun 2005

You are finding out who your friends are as we all have. It's not about you, remember that. It is about them. Their fear, their inability to look at this in the face, and sometimes, just the frustration and helplessness of not knowing how to do any good for you. The reasons are as many as there are people, some more noble than others and some cruely selfish. Just remember it has nothing to do with you, it is their unresolved issues within themselves.
My Onc Psych described cancer as a river we have all crossed. with the rest of the world on the other side. Sometimes that river is a torrent, and the ones who stand by you are only on the other side of a little trickling creek.
One day at a time. You are your best resource.

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

Thanks for the encouragement. It really seems like a lonely boatride right now. I said yesterday I am thankful Jesus is my life preserver on this river ride.

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

Thanks for the encouragement. It really seems like a lonely boatride right now. I said yesterday I am thankful Jesus is my life preserver on this river ride.

MAJW
Posts: 2515
Joined: May 2009

We certainly understand how you feel...we've probably all had this happen...i know it's happened to me.....as was said, it's NOT you! I have a "friend" of almost 25 years...she lives 4 houses down....and this is my second go round of the beast, chemo, brain radiation, etc....anyway, she has never so much as walked down the street to see me....and when I do see her, her standard words are "if you need anything let me know"...as if I would ask her! No thanks! My immediate family consists of my husband, grown kids and 4 grands...both kids and grands live an hour away...they're all I need! My extended family are hundreds of miles away...yet some have made the trip....yet I have a friend of just 2 years who can't do enough...but she gets it...she had bc two years ago....

So, sad as it is, you have to let it go....you can come here anytime...this is a fantastic group of women!!!! I can't stress that enough! Always someone to answer questions, give moral support...only thing we can't do for you is cook meals or clean your house! haha....Or make people understand what we're dealing with....

Please post agin...we really do care
Hugs, Nancy

jendrey's picture
jendrey
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

Unfortunately, I have also had a great friend of many years just stop being my friend for lack of better explanation. We shared a lot together but I can only surmise that my cancer was just something she could not allow herself to be any part of. I really miss her friendship, some days more than others. Occasionally, on holidays, I might call and leave her a voicemail wishing her well. I'm always surprised that she hasn't changed her number.

(((Hugs)))

disneyfan2008
Posts: 5340
Joined: Oct 2010

VERY well Said..!

Denise

DebbyM's picture
DebbyM
Posts: 3294
Joined: Oct 2009

I am not sure how to answer you except to say that if anyone, a friend or relative abandon you when you have cancer, I don't think you want them in your life anyway.

Good luck to you and we are your pink sisters,

Debby

MsGebby's picture
MsGebby
Posts: 659
Joined: Oct 2011

How I wish this scenario wasn't so all around us. I found out that most people are too scared to face this dreaded disease even though they are not the ones actually being beaten down by it.

We all want to believe that family will always be right beside you in one of the darkest hours of our lives. I found out that my family seems to care on the surface only. It's the niceties of "how are you" "what's new" etc. Never did one of them ask if I needed help. They just assumed I was doing what I have to and that was the end of it. SO, I surround myself with a new family. They are called my true friends.

You know, having been on the other side (the one who didn't know what to say when another person was sick) has shown me how weak we all are in the throws of this disease. I feel sorry for those who cannot help a fellow human being because they are scared of it.

I am now looking at some bad news and have decided that my family will not know about it. If they find out, which most likely will happen, and want to know why I didn't say anything, I will simply tell them that this is a private matter and leave it at that. That's something they tell me all the time. They have told me that they would never tell anyone about a serious illness because it's private. So ... then I will do the same.

It's sad to know that you are going through this. I wish I could comfort you. The one thing I can say is to stay positive and surround yourself with folks YOU KNOW are there for you because they want to be.

Hugs and sincere wishes that the sky will bluer and the sun a little bit shinier with each passing day

mom62
Posts: 600
Joined: Mar 2004

I too have lost longtime friends. I think they just can't handle dealing with thkier own mortality. Maybe they worry it might happen to them and they don't wnat to see what it does to you. Frankly they really were not your friends but aquaintences mistaken for friends because a real friend will be there for you. I have three good friends that I love like sisters. The others were just blips in my life. Its not you its them. Let them go lifes to short to worry about them. Terry

rallendorfer
Posts: 245
Joined: May 2012

I think that people don't want to be sad, and dealing with our cancer issues makes them sad...so they leave. They want to laugh and have BBQ's and go out to dinner and take cruises and not think about death. And that is what they think about when they are around us. The end. But we "AIN'T DEAD YET" that is what I want to scream at them with my deepest southern accent. And I don't want to be defined by cancer and talk about it all of the time either, but when you are tired or sick you really can't do anything else.

We all seem to have this problem. But, I can say that I have other friends now, and most of them have or have had breast cancer. The others have become friends due to having had a close family member that had cancer and they want to stay close in sympathy. So, all things change...don't be too hard on the ones that couldn't stay close. You have it in your power to comfort others and make friends with different people now.

All things change!
You have friends here,
Rebecca

sdukowitz
Posts: 250
Joined: Nov 2011

Oh yes, and some people think cancer is contagious .... your true friends are those that help and comfort you thru good and bad times ... you will have true friends on this board , wish we all lived closer! Sue D

LoveBabyJesus's picture
LoveBabyJesus
Posts: 1654
Joined: Jan 2011

Hi sweet sister, and welcome! So sorry you had to join us. But we are here to help on anything we can. We too need love and support so we have each other to count on! YAY!

I am also sorry you are loosing some friends. And you know what? It's better to be alone than to deal with fake people, right? I know we all need a lot of love and support during bad times, but not everyone can offer that. The word "cancer" is pretty scary to most people. Specially when they haven't lived through it, or have not seen someone else go through it. And this is OK. I hope you have the love and support from your family, or closer friends. You have us too.

@sdukowitz - there are actually people who think cancer is contagious?! This is so ignorant and funny at the same time. I have heard some worse comments that I feel embarrassed to post here. Out of respect. What can we do but to forgive them and move on?

bluwillo
Posts: 113
Joined: May 2010

If someone has already said this, my apologies for repeating it.

As a kid, I changed schools almost every year. By the time I graduated high school, I'd been to 13 different schools. And no, I never got caught in my shenanigans, so it was not a discipline problem. My dad had itchy feet, so we just moved a lot.

By the time I was in 3rd grade, I knew not to make "lifelong" friends...cos I probably wouldn't see them the following September. So, I kept myself pretty aloof. sure, I had friends that I hung out with, and considered "besties"...but I knew it wouldn't last.

I'm sure there's a psychological term for it (and my bad spelling!) but I learned not to get too attached to people, other than family. That's a sad commentary...Anywhooo...

Some of these people may be "leaving" you because they're afraid you'll die and then where will they be? I mean, you might be so rude as to die in the middle of the night, or on a trip...or the day before you were supposed to have lunch with them. It matters not a whit what your diagnoses is, or how your treatment is going. Some people just hear "cancer" and think "uh oh, dead girl walkin'" (Very rude, I agree)

So, in their minds, they're shutting down the relationship now, under their terms, rather than later, whenever God decides your time has come. They are protecting themselves. Sadly, they are also showing what kind of friends they are. Not very good ones.

As I've gotten older, I've not gained many more good friends. My family keeps me busy...and if my end time comes sooner than later, they all know the drill. Party till I drop! Get kicked out of the hospital cos I play my music too loud, or too much dancing in the halls. It's good when family can be friends also.

Tux's picture
Tux
Posts: 541
Joined: Aug 2009

I agree that people abandon a cancer victim because it makes them face their own mortality. It's tough to take, when you really need a friend. You really find out who your real friends are, too. BTW, many people we think of as "friends" really are just acquaintances or colleagues who are thrown into the same environment as we are.

I was a coach for 25 years and I often said the same thing to the young men & women that I worked with. "You have far fewer friends than you think you do."---If I had a dollar for every time I had told someone that....

Hang in there, be strong, and remember that we are here for you. (((Hugs)))

Lynn Smith
Posts: 1265
Joined: Mar 2011

I'm sorry for what your friends have done.No longer want to associate with you.I can't understand it but to me they were never your friends.True friends wouldn't do that.Oh and if they can't be your friend now I sure wouldn't want them to ever come back around if they ever take a notion. They are inconsiderate and self centered.They can walk away if they can't take it but they never know if it may strike them or a loved one.Also who knows we cancer patient may live very long lives. Whose to say.My mom was a 60 year survivor dx at age 21 in the 1940's.

My cancer was very very small also.No chemo or radiation but I have CANCER.I was the lucky one to not have chemo but would've felt more comfortable with radiation. I was Stage 0.Still doesn't make you feel that much safer.Like my doctor told me I could get other types of cancer

I didn't have problems with my friends.Honestly most of my friends have been dx before me.Long time survivors with a much more advanced cancer than mine. Still life is uncertain.I tell everyone I have a long life Ahead of me and I feel that some days but not other days.Just uncertainty with this beast.

Planned my class reunion a couple years ago.Of course I told them I will be back for my 50th Class reunion.It will be one HAPPY REUNION.

You'll make new friends.You have all of us here on the Board.We care about you.

Lynn Smith

Angie2U's picture
Angie2U
Posts: 2993
Joined: Sep 2009

I hate to even fathom the thought of someone abandoning anyone as a result of a diagnosis of cancer. I just can't understand that. Don't you worry though, we will not!

Cyber hugs and prayers,

Angie

jendrey's picture
jendrey
Posts: 377
Joined: Sep 2009

@ bluwillo - are you sure we're not sisters?!! Sometimes it'd be 2 or 3 different schools in one year. And yeah, unfortunately I too learned to not really bother getting attached to people. Well that and how to be totally self reliant. I'm sure we must somehow be related... lol

(((Hugs)))

bluwillo
Posts: 113
Joined: May 2010

jendrey, as a kid, I hated it. As a grown up, although it does make for a limited circle of lifelong friends,at long last, I am able to do what my mom was always yelling at us kids: "Can't you just entertain yourself?!" LOL! yeah, we must be cousins or something!

3cbrca
Posts: 208
Joined: May 2007

What do you do? Make room in your life for all of the great people you will meet on this journey. Is not your fault and it's not about you.

The same thing happened with one of my best friends. I was also dating a man who "couldn't do cancer", I was stunned and my breast surgeon told me it happens more often than you might think- he's had so many patients where the men leave. (he's kind of an amazing doctor that you find yourself telling him everything).

It's not about you-their own coping abilities are severly challenged and I was so surprised to learn that about these two people. Now with some time I can see that they we're emotionally deficient. the great thing- it made room in my life for new people and other people who stepped up and are still friend today-6 years later.

I'm sorry for the loss you are feeling but it will get better. Let the new people in. They are the ones who can cope and will provide the supprort you need.
I promise- it will get better!

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2276
Joined: Jun 2010

Relationships just plain take work. I've given this a whole lot of thought because I was really hurt by 2 of my closest friends, a lifelong friend, and my only sister. And it's taken me 2 years to get to where I am. But enough about my situation.

My "take" on this is similar to others - they're frightened, angry, and then there's all the wonderful stuff in the press/movies that makes cancer sound like it's just not a big deal anymore, and you're going to be fine because so and so was. And then there's "she'll call me if she needs anything" "I'll call tomorrow", etc. And remember, they're "outside". They don't get it. They really don't.

I think when this happens and we feel hurt by it, we need to re-evaluate how important this person is to us and if they are, then we may have to make that contact with them. We might need to tell them what we need/want from them (a visit/phone call/ride, etc.). If the relationship isn't really important, then we need to recognize that. But if it is, sometimes we just need to speak up and say "I need your friendship, will you please whatever".

We're here for you - always. Because WE understand.

Suzanne

Angie2U's picture
Angie2U
Posts: 2993
Joined: Sep 2009

The best advice I could ever give is just Live Your Life! If you can, don't deal with all the drama from friends or family. It is their loss if they don't want to support you. This is a time when you find out who your true friends are. Perhaps they have trouble dealing with the fact that you have bc, so, maybe you could just talk to some of them. Ask them what's going on?

Live, Live, Live! Life is great and you deserve to enjoy it!

Big hugs, Angie

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

I am overwhelmed by the support and encouragement from all of you, thank you! Your comments have helped more than you will ever know. This is an amazing group.

I feel like saying... Alrighty, then... leave those people to their own lives... pick up the boots, jump on the horse and ride off with the new friends I've made here!! Yeehah!

lol... Ok, as you may find out in the future, I have a sense of humor and I have some funny stories to tell about cancer. Maybe we should start a topic of funny things that have happened?

Megan M's picture
Megan M
Posts: 3001
Joined: Dec 2009

This is great that the pink sisters made you feel better!

camul's picture
camul
Posts: 2039
Joined: Dec 2010

This is what this board is all about. We have all been there, and it hurts when "good friends, boyfriends, husbands, and even sisters" can't deal. You may get the occasional obligatory call, but you will recognize that also, they will make tentative plans to meet for lunch or whatever, but cancel when it comes close.

With time you will accept this and move away from them, too. I told close friends and family when I was diagnosed and left it up to them. All but a few are still in my life, but I was hurt by those who couldn't deal? Took a bit for me to realize it is not my issue, it affects me and hurts, but I can't change them.

I asked one really 'good friend' during the obligatory call what was really happening, she said she couldn't deal with me dying. Told her call me when she can, I am still alive today! It was the siblings that were the hardest, but it is what it is.

Take care of yourself, you cannot make them understand!

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

this has helped me, too. This group has helped me rise above my disappointment and anger and let it go... When I was first out of treatment, I didn't know what to do with my life... where do I go from here? I thought that instead of taking trips and going places, I wanted to spend more time with my family and friends... I've found out exactly what you've said, they don't want to be around a "dying" person, even though I'M ALIVE! So, I've retreated and this support group is now my friends and family group. Thanks to all!

survivorbc09
Posts: 4378
Joined: Jun 2009

We are always here to support you, don't forget that. So, post all you want. I am glad that we've helped you!

Hugs, Jan

Bar_B's picture
Bar_B
Posts: 27
Joined: Jun 2012

How do you delete?

epark's picture
epark
Posts: 338
Joined: Aug 2011

When I was diagnosed with cancer I had friends and family telling me they will be there for me blah blah blah, however, when i went through chemo this is when I knew who were my true friends and which family member you can count on...it sucked and it hurt my feelings but you know what it help me know who I can count on when things gets tough and now I'm so grateful for having those people in my life.

Eva

Alexis F's picture
Alexis F
Posts: 3604
Joined: May 2009

Delete what? Your post? It says edit at the bottom of what you posted. Is that what you wanted to know? LOL

Lex

Heatherbelle's picture
Heatherbelle
Posts: 1221
Joined: Jun 2010

What I've experienced is some friends and family have a hard time accepting the "new me". Once you're faced with cancer, you're forever changed. It changes you physically obviously, but all the emotions and fears that you go through - it changes you. I'm still essentially "me" - but I think new & improved. My priorities have changed. My tolerance for BS is zero - life is too short to deal with drama and feeling upset! Im much less likely to put up with crap! I enjoy the little things, i make lots of fun memories with my kids, i do things that I enjoy. I try new things, i take risks, I say what I mean, and I mean what I say.I think finding this "new me" is my silver lining to all this BC crap. Most of the people around me are liking new Heather, or are adjusting. But I've had a few who I've done nothing but argue with once treatment stopped. Had a friend actually log on to CSN here to read my posts, and then got mad at me about what I had written. Luckily my husband and the majority of my friends and family have been patient and supporting and are just as happy to get to know the "new Heather" as I am.
Hugs to you! I know it's sad when friendships go bad, but you have to do what's best for you. Some bringing you down? Forget about them! Life's too short!
*hugs*
heather

Attygirl's picture
Attygirl
Posts: 121
Joined: Jun 2012

Nancy referred me to this one in her kind response.
I am so hurt by the friends and family who have "disappeared." I never would have guessed this would happen. But it has, and I've got to move on.

I hope you are feeling better about this Bar_B. I'm getting there...

Hugs to all and thanks for the friendship found here.

hope4thebest's picture
hope4thebest
Posts: 108
Joined: Aug 2012

It's been a year since being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41, and I have lost the majority of my friends. They cannot handle the change. Before, I was the go-to person, always optimistic, now that I cannot help them. It seems like they do not want the relationship unless they can gain something from it. They are needy, and now that I have become the one in need, it is no longer convenient for them. None have actually said goodbye, although I know I will not see them in the same light again. I feel the decision is mutual; if we wanted to revive the relationship, we could but deep inside we know what is healthiest for us and our survival to let go. Conserve energy for a good cause.

Attygirl's picture
Attygirl
Posts: 121
Joined: Jun 2012

"Conserve energy for a good cause."

rallendorfer
Posts: 245
Joined: May 2012

This is where I am too. Exactly. I actually found one in particular, my daughter, tried to one-up me with going to the doctor to try to dig up something wrong with her so that she could still get the attention diverted back to her instead of being willing to be inconvenienced with me when I needed HER. I was amazed. My husbands take on her was: "I'll see your cancer and raise you a heart palpitation" Right on the mark. When I didn't have anything to give her she walked away.

So well written!
Rebecca

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