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attitude change in friends and family

Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Everyone,

Before you read this I want to warn you that you may find it negative and depressing.

Has anyone who has had a recurrence or more than one noticed a change in attitude of family and friends?
I have and it's really bothering me. They all seem more upset than usual about my upcoming surgery. My children are apparently discussing what would happen to my 2 youngest who are 15 and 17 if I don't make it out of surgery. My friends who originally said don't worry about the cruise, you can cruise anytime are now saying don't cancel it yet. You may feel well enough to go and you may not have another opportunity! I've even been told that maybe I should go even if I have to use a wheel chair because it would be better than not going.

I'm really confused and feel like I'm getting all kinds of mixed messages. Have any of you had this happen? Do you think that they've decided that since it keeps coming back it's all over? I feel like screaming, I'm not dead yet!!! Maybe they're being realistic and I'm not, but I liked the old attitude much better. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1250
Joined: Mar 2003

Hey Jamie,

Yeah, it's hard when folks begin to shift gears without telling anybody. It's unclear when or why they adopt this new perspective but it can be bothersome. Maybe you've (unknowingly) given off a "realistic" vibe that things can happen during times like surgery. Maybe it is a way for them to deal with the seriousness of things.

If I were you, I would just explain to them that your success with cancer indirectly hinges on the people surrounding you. When they give off the feeling that things might turn out bad, it's too easy for you to adopt that same feeling. Explain to them that you are a team. Also, maybe you are just a little hyper-sensitive since surgery time is drawing near and are taking things the wrong way. When your friends say you may not have another opportunity for the cruise, maybe because they're thinking work, family, etc, keeping you from going, not your health.

Stay strong, Jamie. Get through the surgery with flying colors, and continue to be successful in your fight against cancer.

You can do this!


Posts: 206
Joined: May 2005


I know exactly what you mean. Four years ago, and it will be four years.. it feels so great to say that by the way. In July of 2003, after what I thought would be a routine surgery for a hysterectomy, I woke up to find out I had colon cancer, and a colostomy bag. I was 48 years old, and devastated. I had Stage IV cancer that had spread to my one ovary. I thought my world was over.. and so did everyone else, my family, my doctors, my friends. All I wanted in this world was to see an ounce of hope .. in someones eyes that I could and would make it thru this.. .despite all the statistics.. I knew inside of me.. that maybe I would get run over by a car sometime, BUT .. I would NEVER EVER let this beast take me from my family that I love sooo much.. I had two baby grandchildren that I wanted to see grow up. Well my husband, told me one day before I started my treatments.. that he didn't believe the dr's... even though he did.. and that I was strong, and I would make it, and I would be the poster child for chemo, and cancer and I knew I couldn't let him down, it was all I needed to hear, to keep me going and going and I am still going. All you need is an ounce of hope sometimes, and makes all the difference in the world.. now people see me ... and they say I can't believe it.. you were sooo sick, and your a survivor! God bless you, and find that tiny spark somewhere and set a big big fire.

Your friend in PA

alta29's picture
Posts: 435
Joined: Mar 2005

I know it's hard but just try to spend more time with the "positive" one....You have to BELIEVE and listening to negative people don't help. I do a an adorable auntie in Puerto Rico that once in a while will tell me...what ever your destiny is...you have to accepted, stage for is bad....blah, blah, blah....I always tell her....yeah auntie thanks for your support...and that will be the end of it....Just stay around positive people, read positive stories and Believe
God bless

Limey's picture
Posts: 447
Joined: Mar 2004

Hi Jamie, having had 3 reoccurances since 2004 I can relate to seeing differences in how family reacts. I have seen both sides. one where they hear you went NED and they treat you like your healed and can function at the pace you did before cancer was a part of your life or the other where family urges you to do it now, don't put off till tomorrow. I am convinced the reactions are from Love. They are trying to deal with the reality of the news just as you are. We the cancer survivor have to be filled with eternal hope always but our loved ones start to see that there may be an end to our journey. Personally i think it is normal and O.K. At least they are caling you and still wanting to be in your life. A gentle nudge to let your loved ones know how you want them to support you would be very welcomed by them I am sure. They are more than likely confussed on how to treat you. I hope you family responds to your needs and I hope the love and caring from them always outweighs thier sometimes less than sensetive comments.

shmurciakova's picture
Posts: 910
Joined: Dec 2002

Hi Jamie,
I also know what you mean, however, they probably saw how upset you were when you found out you would have to go through surgery again. Like I said before, I think by the time that cruise rolls around you probably will be ready to go. I don't think you should go because you might not have another opportunity, but you should go because you need to keep on living your life. Whether you go or not is entirely up to you, but maybe what they mean is that you have to take advantage of your time here on earth. We all do! They also might never have another chance, whether it be from some illness, or any other reasons.
Maybe you can try to explain to them that your cancer does not "keep on coming back". I am sure your doctors will explain to you, as they did me, that my cancer had already spread to my liver and lung when I was diagnosed. It was just too small to detect. All of my surgeries were one right after another. I finished chemo, then they saw my liver met on the scans, then shortly after that, my lung mets. All this happened in a 3 year period (actually 2 1/2 years). Once I finally got all those mets out, I have been fine. I doubt you have had a recurrence per se.
They do not understand all that. All they know is that Stage IV is serious....and it is, but that does not mean that you cannot be cured. Feel free to tell them stories from this board of others who have survived. Maybe if they understand more then they won't treat you like you are doomed.
Susan H.

Posts: 544
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi Everyone,
Thanks for your responses. I think there's some truth in each one.
I know these people all love and care about me and just don't know what to say at this point. I'm not sure that anything anyone says will be alright with me anyway. Also, though I know it sounds strange, even if I'm not entirely positive all the time it's ok for me, but not anyone else!

I think that most people still look at cancer as a death sentence. The idea of living with cancer is fairly new. I guess I'll have to educate people!

As far as the cruise goes, I haven't cancelled yet and am thinking about going. I have been told by several people that I will probably heal better on a cruise than at home. It's something I am considering.

I know I'll come through the surgery fine and chemo also. I just have to go through all the emotional stuff so I can be ready.
I would do much better if the doctor announced that I was having surgery in an hour and I didn't have time to think!!

Take care,

Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1256
Joined: Jul 2005

Hi Jamie - sorry to be late with my response. I think these people love you. Surgery is scary to everyone - you and them - it will work out fine, but that doesn't make it not scary.

Your kids are naturally apprehensive and it is natural for your older kids to express their apprehension in different ways than do your younger kids.

I think your cruise friends are thinking of much more than your cancer when they suggest that there may not be another opportunity. After all, it has to be very difficult for several working people to find time off at the same time (and money) to cruise together. If your friends go ahead and cruise without, they may not have $$ for another one. And everyone's work can intervene, so hopefully the comment about not being sure there will be another time is just related to the obvious difficulties of multiple friends taking an expensive cruise together,

I wish you the best with your surgery and perhaps you can even do both surgery and the cruise. But, I think you are doing the right thing by doing the surgery. And, if the cruise doesn't work out this time, there will undoubtedly be a future time for a great trip!

Take care,

Posts: 1048
Joined: Jan 2007

You've received so much good advice, I really can't add to it. Just want you to know that I believe you'll do just fine with the surgery and if you don't do the cruise this time, you'll do it another time. Keep the faith. God Bless and keep us posted.

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