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Boolea
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Hello all,

My prognosis is very good, and I'm 4 weeks out from surgery today. I'm on the mend. I'm feeling good this week but last week I had some emotional upsets and some depression. My best friend and I clashed earlier this week and are not speaking to one another now, which is very upsetting.

I wonder if this is fallout from a cancer diagnosis as well? It's very hard as losing friends is not what I need right now. The basis of our clash is she feels I dodged a bullet and should be happier than I am and resuming my life and not looking for sympathy. It got very harsh. I didn't think I was. But I couldn't help the feelings that bubbled up.
I guess I just want to be able to talk to my friends about anything.

I suspect I should see a counselor and sort all this out and not listen to someone who does love and care for me, but has never been through this.

Boolea

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1532
Joined: Jan 2010

Boolea,

People outside our group do not understand RCC. Neither you or I understood it before our diagnosis and surgery. Their expectations are from what they here and read. Yes you dogged a bullet, but 4 weeks out from surgery others may not understand that you are overwhelmed by just having major surgery. If this person is a true friend things may very well work out.

Icemantoo

I am alive
Posts: 220
Joined: Jul 2012

Icemantoo said it beautifully. Even best friends can just not "get it." They don't have a clue, really, unless they have had a close family member or friend go through cancer. Sometimes we just want to verbalize our fears and our struggle to deal with this. It's the way we process what has happened to us. Really, all your friend needed to do was listen and not judge. But I have found that even the most resourceful and well meaning friends don't know what to say. Cancer makes them feel uncomfortable and afraid. They either want to shut down the conversation after a few minutes, or they lapse into platitudes like "be brave," which really ticks me off. "Oh. I'm not being 'brave' if I talk about it? If I spell out the reality of the situation?" I actually think it's pretty 'brave' to look the monster squarely in the eye, and not very 'brave' to smother a needy friend in platitudes. But bottom line: forgive and let go. You don't want to lose a good friend over this. (and if the friendship cools a bit, so be it.) We all let each other down in a million ways. This board is a good place to go when you just want to verbalize your fears and sadness. We all know EXACTLY how you're feeling!

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Its something we all seem to go through in the early weeks following surgery, we instinctively need to talk about it because its therapeutic and it helps us heal mentally, especially because we've had so little time to digest it between "You have cancer." and "You are cured." Friends and relatives, in some cases, don't want to hear about it because dealing with it on a personal level scares the crap out of them. For what its worth, the elephant in the room does shrink over time, just remember we're here when you need us.

RichardB63's picture
RichardB63
Posts: 56
Joined: Oct 2012

Boolea,

Ditto, this is a great place to hear everyones trouble and to express your concerns and fears. I have found most people just want to hear that you are doing well, and will be fine. Before the surgery everyone wants to tell you that everything is going to be OK.

We know as part of this group that we just stared at our own mortality right in the face,and no matter what it will always be part of who we are. The rollercoaster that we have been on will slow down, but people seem to want to hear that everything is good and getting better. They want to treat it like a broken finger that you put in a cast and all is better after it heals.

Friends will come back around, I usually give them the short version with a smile. We have a lot of living to do. Keep a positive outlook,and soundoff here, or just be amazed at all of the help it is to your soul by listening to all of these incredible people on this site.

Richard

adman's picture
adman
Posts: 260
Joined: Jul 2012

....most of the time, but sometimes it can also be a little judgmental as well. I don't take it personally. I equate it to the same 'bravado' exhibited within email. Bottom line - People are brave when communicating with each other using electronic messaging. They will say things they never would say to your face.

I still say what I want. When I want. It has definitely helped me thru this process the past 6 months. I hope everyone else does as well.

Thank you allowing me to be a member in this group.

God Bless!!

Boolea
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Thanks so much to all who responded here. Not sure how I'd be feeling without this forum at this point! You confirmed what I have been thinking, that no matter how much my friends care, they do not understand unless they experience it firsthand. I think it best to just tell them I'm doing fine and on the mend, and save my private thoughts and feelings for a counselor or for this forum.

My friend and I are still not speaking to each other. I had to put some time and distance in there, it was really upsetting me. I'm basically getting on with my life, which is what she said I was not doing.
She told me that when I was ready to be present and be among the living we could move forward. I guess counseling should not be one of her career choices :-)

I hope our friendship can resume but comments like that are patronizing and somewhat demeaning. I'm hoping for an apology from her for the level of self-righteousness and lack of sensitivity, but what are the odds. I hope I can find it in me to forgive and forget, in time.

I wish a good weekend to all and once again, thanks for the support and encouragement.
Boo

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 1902
Joined: Oct 2011

I don't think that it has been uncommon for "friends" to not get it. The younger they are,ie: 20's, the worse. The older seem to have better understanding due to life exposure and experience. But as you say, friends don't comprehend the toll cancer takes on ones emotional state. For example I know a ton of people who don't know anyone with diabetes. But they know it can be managed. So, no big deal. But if you work in health care, it seems everyone you know has diabetes. So we understand the ramifications when others don't. Sometimes friends think about how they almost had all the lottery numbers but won nothing. Back to square one. They also think that you had some surgery but no big deal. Just get over it. They don't understand.

Boolea
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

You are right, they do not understand. I just had a friend give me a speech about focusing on the positive and not letting the negative get anywhere in there. Well, these words are very true, but unless you have had a cancer diagnosis, how can you tell another person what to think/feel? I'm really resenting that presumption.
This same friend also said she refuses to treat me like a cancer patient. Well, I may be cancer-free, and I'm thankful for that, but I have to have a CT scan in 6 months that I would never have had...because I had cancer. Doesn't that still make me a cancer patient?
I have to just let these people have their say, or just not share everything with them, and yes, get over it and let it go. They care, that is the important thing, they just don't know what to do or say at this point, now that the imminent crisis is over.

LISAinTN's picture
LISAinTN
Posts: 143
Joined: Aug 2011

Even my doctor doesn't get it! I love my doctor and he did save my life, but even he doesn't seem to "get it". At my results appointment for my 12 month tests, I was asking my doctor about my concerns about being tested only once per year after my 18 month test. I can't help but feel like I'm more covered or protected being tested every 6 months. He said something to the effect of, "Lisa, you have to be positive and live your life positively". Um yea, I get that. It's not like I'm curled up in the fetal position not living my life and being all doom and gloom all the time. I'm not, but this is something that you can't help but think about once in awhile as it's kind of just hanging there over your shoulder for the rest of your life. Even more so when you're so close to your initial diagnosis and surgery date, like you are. So yea, there are a lot of people that don't "get it" including some doctors. I'd love to be all skipping around in a flowing white dress in a field of daisies every minute of every day, (LMBO!) but I live in the real world. Some days you do think about it. Even 18 months later.

Hopefully, you're friendship with this person will be repaired, but I'm sorry to say and sorry if I sound harsh......Sometimes you just don't need certain people in your life and if you can't lean on a friend when you need to, then what kind of friend are they?

Blessings,
Lisa

Boolea
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Thanks for your reply. Lisa. Sometimes I wish people would say nothing, instead of saying these trite things that you often see on facebook "posters" or Hallmark cards. Geez.
I like your analogy of it hanging there over your shoulder for the rest of your life. You can ignore it all you want, but it's still there. But of course we can lead happy lives despite the fear and anxiety.

Your doc should not have said that. He/she should have addressed your concerns with you. The under meaning of that was: stop worrying and live life. All well and good to say to someone when it's not you that's having the experience.

I am in touch with my friend again, thankfully, but neither of us has mentioned our disagreement. There is no way I am going to be able to talk her into understanding, it's just going to come across wrong, like I'm wanting sympathy.

I would never presume to tell someone going through this how they should think and feel. I can't imagine why my dear friends are doing it to me, but I have to let it go.
I realized that I was censored for even saying that I wanted to improve my diet in the coming year and lifestyle to make sure I'm doing all I can so the cancer won't come back. Instead of saying, yes, that is great, my friend said: well, you need to focus on the positive. Aaargh! Lol. Isn't that positive, taking my health into my hands?
They are not understanding that this isn't in the forefront of your mind daily, it's just a concern and sometimes thoughts.

I think when I am feeling way better and all healed, that I will have the energy to skip around in that dress. For now, I will keep my thoughts to myself or discuss them with a counselor. I can't deal with any more emotional upset, I need to be on that healing path.

So glad I found this site as now I feel supported and not alone!

Boo

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 1902
Joined: Oct 2011

You know, what I think is that you can change your behavior without having to explain anything to your friends. If you want to eat better, just do it. It might even rub off a little. Increase your activity and exercise. You don't need their approval. I'll bet they all become envious because they know that they should be doing the same thing anyhow. If you lose your friends due to jealousy, then you are better off. Your next friends will be chosen for your current values.

RichardB63's picture
RichardB63
Posts: 56
Joined: Oct 2012

I think sometimes we just need to get a few things off our chest. I have always lived life with a smile. Some of my friends have lived vicareously through me. I know now that some of my friends just don't know how to deal with this situation.... Life is funny sometimes :-)

Richard

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Hi Boo,

It has been my experience that in time this experience will make you a better friend. When my neighbor was diagnosed with bladder cancer no one in his circle knew what he was going through. Out of frustration his wife suggested that he talk to me since I'd been through it. The bond was nearly instantaneous and we became much better friends than we ever were as neighbors. God forbid that any of your friends are touched by cancer or some earth shattering tragedy, but if they are you will be there with an understanding nobody else can offer and they will be drawn to that like a moth to a flame. None of the platitudes and Hallmark cards will enter your mind, you will simply offer a much appreciated understanding ear and shoulder to cry on as needed. Unfortunately it is the only way they will ever be able to understand how you currently feel.

Hang in there,

Gary

Wolflvr's picture
Wolflvr
Posts: 14
Joined: Dec 2012

First let me say that I'm sorry you're having a hard time with this. It is difficult when the people around us don't seem to know what we're going through and don't respond in the way we need them to, or in a way that allows us to say the things we need to say in what we feel is a safe and loving environment. A place of support. It makes things so much harder, especially when we don't have the experience or know how to navigate on our own.

You've gotten some fantastic words of encouragement and awesome advice, and I hope you don't mind if I expand in a slightly different direction. I don't know you or your friend, so if I'm way off, feel free to take with a grain of salt, lol.

There is another side to this. Your friends side. And I know that she isn't the cancer patient, she isn't the one that could have died, she isn't the one that's going to have a panic attack before every scan. Or is she? You say this woman is your best friend. A part of her would have died with you, she will live in terror before your scans and until the moment you give her results... and will probably immediately ask when the next one is so that she can prepare to panic then. She is the best friend of a cancer patient and it's almost the same thing, and in some ways worse. As helpless as you feel to help yourself, you can do the surgery, take the meds (for those that get them), change your lifestyle, do the research, call the doctors, etc. What can she do? She can tell you to be positive, don't dwell on it, keep moving, live like yesterday hasn't happened yet and tomorrow will never come. She can pray. She can hope that you're telling her the truth. She can't call the doctors to get info, she can't take the meds for you, she can't eat better for you, she can't save you, she can't help you, she can do nothing but wait and watch and hope against hope that you'll continue to be her best friend for the next 50 years. And she's terrified, but she doesn't want to dump that on you. And all of the books and well meaning family and friends she's asked what to do have told her to get you off the couch and don't let you wallow. Show you the good things. Remind you what you have to live for and don't treat you any differently. You're still you. Nothing has changed.

So I applaud you for coming here, for voicing your frustrations and fears just as I and so many others have. But to me? She needs a support group too, even if she doesn't know it, and she's not equipped to handle it. I wouldn't ask my hubby to knit me socks, and I wouldn't ask my sister to build me a garage, and neither of them have has any idea what to say to me except "I love you" and that's okay.

And I'm not at all saying that you're wrong for expecting people to cut you some slack, just maybe sometimes it's easier to feel the love they're drowning you in if you can see it for what it is?

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Boo,

If you haven't already, read Wolf's story under Hello, new here. She has provided you a different perspective on this issue based on a wealth of experience based knowledge that runs much deeper than most of us have. I've always felt that caregivers have it as bad or worse than us patients, especially on the mental and emotional side, but I never considered how friends could be affected that way too. A real eye opener.

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

Right with you, Gary - Wolflvr's post is exceptionally insightful and also beautifully expressed - should be mandatory reading for all cancer patients.

alice124's picture
alice124
Posts: 860
Joined: Mar 2012

What a warm, eloquent and insightful response. I expect you will make many friends on this Board. Welcome!

P.S. Have to ask--is name short for wolf lover?

Wolflvr's picture
Wolflvr
Posts: 14
Joined: Dec 2012

lol. Thought maybe I had overstepped. So relieved you all don't think I did and hope Boo sees it as the same. Thank you for all your kind comments.

Alice - I hope I do make friends here and I hope I am a valued addition here, and yes, it is short for wolf lover :)

Boolea
Posts: 28
Joined: Oct 2012

Good Thursday Morning,

What a wonderfully insightful message! There is so much here that is wise and true. I welcome this perspective, as I am still trying to understand her point of view, after the emotions subside and I am left with either nursing a grudge and possibly losing a great friendship, or understanding and forgiving and moving on. No, you are not way off at all!

I had an appointment yesterday with a nurse practitioner from our cancer center. It was great, she is warm, funny, caring, and has seen it all. I was able to share all of my thoughts and feelings without judgment. We talked a bit about this website and I told her that I believe there should be more information given to those diagnosed with cancer. This website address should be listed in printed materials or given out. Maybe it is already, I could be off, but this might be an opportunity for me to help others entering cancer land.

The frustration I was feeling a week or two ago is subsiding, and I'm just left with normal feelings of impatience as I want to get back to doing things for myself. My thoughts now are turning to more of how I can prevent cancer from recurring, and how can I turn this experience into something positive in my life.

Thank you from the bottom of my non-skid sock soles! :-D

Happy Holidays,
Boo

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