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21 years old, post-BMT. trouble with friends

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2012

I was diagnosed with leukemia this past November causing me to have to leave my university, hobbies, activities and friends. It's been 5 months since my diagnosis and one month since my bone marrow transplant and I feel really alone sometimes. I am incredibly thankful for the support my family has given me and the fact that my BMT has been going smoothly but I'm finding it hard to have a normal relationship with the people I was very close with before. Does anyone else have this problem? I don't know if I'm expecting too much from them or how other people have dealt with this. I know I shouldn't expect anything from anyone but being stuck at home is hard and at times I wish my friends were more supportive now with coming to see me and hanging out. I know that visiting someone who is sick isn't all that much fun sometimes but these are people who were my friends before all this happened and now they just seem to be disappearing when I need them most. CSN is the first thing close to a support group that I have tried... Is there anyone who has gone through something similar? Any feedback would really help me out. Maybe I'm just looking at all of this the wrong way.

catwink22's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: Sep 2009

Hi Iuozo,

It’s very hard to be cooped up and especially at 21, but please remember this is temporary.

I’m not too familiar with the process of a BMT, but I know you have to be very careful about being exposed to virus and bacteria so although you are confined it’s what you have to do.

Can you Skype with some of your friends? That might keep you connected and not force people to have to come over to see you. We all get so wrapped up in our own lives especially at your age with new relationships, studies, sports, jobs and hobbies. Once you get back on your feet I’m sure you will find that most of your friends are still there and you will know who the true ones are.

I’m sorry you are dealing with this, it’s hard at any age, but at your age it just doesn’t seem fair. It sounds like you are holding up good so keep your chin up and at the end of this journey you will look back and see that “You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” A.A. Milne

Best wishes to you! Hang in there!

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2012

Thank you so much for your input on this situation. :)
It actually makes me feel a lot better just knowing that other people do go through this same scenario and I'm not over-thinking everything. I think right now I have to deal with this tough emotional part of the process but I agree that in the future when I am back at school and back doing my normal activities I will find better friends and maybe even have a more mature relationship with some of my remaining friends.
DragonG7- I can already see how my definition of "funny" and "a good time" will change after this also.. I don't think I talk to my friends any differently now then I did before I was diagnosed except now it feels like the conversation is so superficial. You're right, when you go through a life-threatening situation it is hard to give importance to meaningless things. When I go back to school all of my "friends" will have already graduated so I guess it will be a good thing because I will get a chance to meet all new people!
Catwink22- I haven't used Skype that much but it could be a helpful alternative. I do have other social networking sites that I'm a part of but being able to see them I think would be helpful. I hope that once this is over with some of my friends will still be there!
Thanks so much for your feedback :)

Posts: 17
Joined: Feb 2012


I hope everything is going well :)
I was stuck in the hospital when I was 16. and as you know, when you're getting chemo and all, you can't have visitors etc. in addition, I was in a hospital very far from home so I only got to see my family very rarely too... what I found comforting was emailing ppl :) have pictures sent, watch films over and over again when I can lol... Ok, watching the same film several times was because that was really all I could do,,, now with more resources, I bet you could watch new ones ;)

luckily, I had treatment from the last month or two of the school year, through the summer and a month or so into the next school year... so, I didn't miss as much of school as I could have... when I went back to the same grade, the friends I was close to before that seemed very supportive on emails seemed to be in another world. They were talking about things, laughing their****** off, and to me,,, it just wasn't funny at all,,, I guess it was before I got diagnosed and went through treatment and all, but not when I went back? and the "D" word so many ppl use when their tired, or just before exams really, REALLY bothered me. actually, I used to say stupid stuff all the time before, but after really going through a life threatening situation, I guess one's perspective changes. Soon enough, I made new friends though :) but sometimes I just felt like I was in one of those glass Ball things that have water and synthetic snow inside that I used to play with around Christmas when I was a child...
But I have to tell you, you will definitely find new and better ppl to hangout with!!! people that are just truly fantastic :) the new friends that I made back then are still my very good friends. I bet it's tough, but just believe that everything's gonna workout :)
Also, I think even making friends through the internet would be helpful :) especially cause without an adequate immune system, it's not easy to go out and I seemed to get through everything with a lot of emailing :)

All the best ;)

GogolBordello's picture
Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2005

I was diagnosed just after the summer ended in 2000, right after I graduated High school, my whole life was put on pause.

Man that is REALLY hard. I think that the resentment and pain of some of my friends walking away essentially, even my GF was worse then the cancer sometimes. I had a lot stick by me, but I realized that I had to be proactive for some reason people get scared or intimidated by a sick person, no idea why. I started an email list and since I couldn't seem to wake up at a normal time, I was up at 4:30-5AM every day and first thing I would do was send out an email to people, like a blog I guess. Start a blog. I would let people know my thoughts etc. When I started involving people they showed up more.

I would invite people over and bug them. I would not guilt trip people, but I would let them know, hey, I'm stuck at home, and could stand for someone to be around and just hang out. I would make activities out of it, board games, card games, etc. Munchkin is amazing fun. I had AIM, MSN, Yahoo, all that, that was my social outreach. NO sick people, and as soon as you open the door, make them wash their hands. I started gaming a lot, I had all that spare time, I even played pro in the early days of competitive gaming, started my first company with friends through that and met some great people that I keep up with even now. There are a ton of outlets.

I found a great bit of friendship on this site under my old username when I was lonely during that time, some of the folks I met have turned into long time friends. Sadly there is not much for young cancer survivors, well when I was looking that is, and I just didn't fit into the groups I found.

Try to make people comfortable, it's BS that you have to, but cancer is serious stuff and people can be stupid. I wondered sometimes if someone started a rumor I had leprosy or something. I was never afraid to be blunt and let people know that they were not being supportive, I also let them know right off, I don't want your pity, I don't need you to look at me like a sick lost puppy. I need you to continue being the friend you have been. That approach needs to be weighed carefully, some people can't handle that type of statement. I didn't go to my 10 year High School reunion because I was afraid I might be blunt to someone. I've gotten passed most of this, but there are situations that can trigger me to be pissed off and remember that pain.

I had stage 4b t cell lymphoma. shoot me your email or whatever and we can talk over google chat or something if you want. I would really like to help another young survivor that is going through what I did.

Posts: 45
Joined: Apr 2003

Hi there as someone who is also a cancer survivor and have had difficulty making and keeping friends I hope I can offer some support.  I have learned from other survivors that they have had problems with friends so you are not alone.  While my cancer has been gone a long time (I had it at a very young age) I have some late effects that have made it hard for me to find friends who are accepting and patient with me due to some of the health issues I have as late effects. It hurts when you lose friends because they don't get what you are going through or they change so much that you don't know them anymore because they won't spend time with you. I am sorry to hear that you have some trouble with the friends you had before.  Have you talked with them and explained to them about your leukemia, your treatments and how you are now? Maybe they don't understand and are afraid to ask questions or don't know what to ask.  Cancer can be a hard thing to understand especially if it is something unseen- not noticeble on the outside. It may be that they are scared for you and may feel sad or upset about what happened and don't know how to deal with it.  Maybe you or your parents could speak to them? Have you let them know how you feel? If they are truly your friends they will listen to what you have to say and remain friends with you if you share how you feel they might be willing to open up to you.  If they do or say hurtful things in response then I hope you can find some new friends who will care enough to stick around.  God Bless and I hope things have gotten better. 

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