how to handle friends...

I’ve just read the list of insensitive comments thread and though it’s made me laugh it’s also made me realise how sad I feel about the friends who have just kind of disappeared. I seemed to have lots of support when first dx’d but slowly they’ve all but two of my very closest friends, just kind of fallen by the wayside and now all i get are really odd texts saying ‘glad you are on the mend’ and today a friend who had asked me back in october if i wanted to go away for new year with her and her other friends, and i eagerly said yes, then she never contacted me again until today saying 'happy new year, are you through chemo yet" despite me telling her how long everything would take before 'm through it, i’m not finished chemo til march btw!

What i’m struggling with is how i handle the anger this can bring up… have any of you fallen out with friends because of this, or is it not worth it. My two best friends are great but they live 200 miles away so i never get to see them often. Others just haven’t bothered calling even though they keep emailing or texting to say they will. I just find it so difficult at times and text messages can be so wrong at times like this when a friendly phone call would work better.

maybe i’m just having an off day but then I am only on third day after Chemo!

Carrie x

Hi Carrie,

I know exactly how you feel. I’ve been very surprised by friends’ reactions - some who I thought were little more than acquaintances have been brilliant, whereas others who I thought were good friends just seemed to disappear off the horizon. I’ve struggled to know what to do with these ones - do I ignore their lack of support and carry on as before (now I’m through chemo) or do I drop them? I’m trying to be charitable and take the view that most people have no idea what we go through, and so I shouldn’t think badly of them, but it’s not always easy. And I’m saying this from a distance - ie I finished chemo in September. When I was in my worst chemo days I was desperately upset about it all.

I think you have to decide how important these friends are to you. Don’t fall out with them now, you may regret it in time to come. Just try to ignore them, and concentrate on people who are supportive. You may feel different in a few months time.

Hi Carrie

I have found myself really resentful about a couple of friends, one in particular who I consider a good friend has not contacted me since July! Nor has she answered any messages I have sent her. I got so angry about them that I was only upsetting myself.

I decided not to do anything, not to confront them, just to see if they come back once I’m out and about a bit more and they see me. I think with some people it’s just very hard for them to know what to do or say so I’m tying to be charitable. As I say this is mainly so I don’t stress myself out for people who aren’t worth the effort. I hope you don’t worry yourself too much about so called friends. This disease can be a very isolating and lonely journey no matter how many people are around you.

Cecelia. x

Hi Carrie
Just want to add my thoughts. It all sounds so familiar. I was diagnosed in June and one of the first people I told was my friend. I had known her since I was 4 (now 37) so we go back a long way. Well to cut a long story short she has not been a good friend at all. Phoned every 3 weeks to get update - only to tell her mum, and made no effort to visit or help with the children.
Feel let down but guess what I have had a couple of girls I only knew to say hello to and they really have shone for me in my darkest days - these are now my friends for life.
As for the other girl, who knew me all my life, well if she phones me now (hasn’t for about 2 months) I think I will make some excuse that someone is at the door. I don’t plan to fall out wiht her - life is too short for the hassle but she has been a BIG let down. If I can’t count on her now - what is the point!!


Hi everyone

How I so agree with every one of the posts - having breast cancer is hard enough to deal with, but I felt my abandonment by people I had thought of as friends made me feel so very isolated and hurt at a time when I needed support, be it a quick phone call or a little note or the odd chat over a coffee. I found that all these things that we had done naturally for so many years stopped abruptly when they heard of my dx - that was 2yrs ago and I guess I am only now realising that those relationships must have been pretty one-sided or that wouldn’t have happened.Now my friends are the one or two who have stuck by me throughout ( sadly I lost one of my closest last summer to bc and another now lives in Aus.) and the wonderful friends whom I have met since - they are the best thing to come out of this as I was blessed with them in my darkest days and know they will be special no matter what. The irony for me was that a lady said to me when I was first dx that I should expect that to happen and I found it hard to believe, as I had always valued my friends as people I could count on. My promise to myself for 2008, is to try and not worry about all those lost years with people who couldn’t be there for me ( very hard in my down times) and put all my energies into nurturing new found friendships, including the cyber ones on this site I am lucky to have found support from!!
Love to all of you
Seren xx

Like a lot of people here, I’ve found the people I didn’t know too well before my illness have been far more supportive of me then people I would have regarded as good friends. Same thing with family - my sister went to work abroad but was here when I was diagnosed and this thing has driven a bit of a wedge between us. She has been over twice to see us and her behaviour has actually been quite shocking as she chose to go on holiday and visit other friends in different parts of the country before bothering about me. When I finished chemo I ended up in hospital for a week and she went “oh well, you’re just on the Herceptin now” and just about every email I get is all “me, me, me” stuff because she hates her life at the moment. When I had just got out of hospital she was here and I cleaned a room for her to put her up and make her welcome. I had all sorts of appointments that week and she just went on about how bad her life is. I’m afraid I ended up telling her she should try cancer as I was so angry.My OH now struggles to be civil towards her. I also found that some people who visited regularly when I was doing chemo have hardly been round since I finished it. I guess they must think I’m OK now.

Funny thing is, all the people I haven’t seen for years who I left behind when I moved away from London wrote to me regularly to keep me going.


I hate to say it Carrie, but it seems to have happened to all of us - maybe they think they might catch it from us !

I had a friend who I’d known for 17 years, who when I was diagnosed sent me an e-mail saying how sorry she was and that she was there for me. Then nothing for the next six months. No phone call or e-mail - I did get a birthday card but no note or message inside. Anyway, six months later a bouquet of flowers arrived with a message that said “Thinking of you, and I miss you” I was stunned. I did post a message on here asking for some advice, and eventually just sent her a simple e-mail back thanking her for the flowers, and that was it. I have heard nothing since, and I don’t want to. She always was a selfish woman, my husband and other friends had never liked her, and finally I saw the light. I also have a neighbour, who since I was diagnosed has avoided me like the plague. I would never have thought this of her, but she literally scurries away when she sees me. It did upset me at first, but now it just makes me laugh.

On a more positive note, I have realised exactly who my true friends are and I’ve even made some new - wonderful - friends along the way, some who are in the same position as me. These friends have been there from the very beginning and have provided so much support (not only to me but my hubby and kids too), and I know we’ll be friends for life. I feel so lucky to have them.

Like Seren says, I’m going to invest my time in 2008 - and onwards - with the people who’ve been there for me, and “up yours !” to those who’ve avoided me - their loss not mine - lol !

Love and big hugs



Hi all, do any of you have those “friends” who can’t wait to tell you about people who had it much worse than you. I suppose they are trying to be helpful but I feel like saying it’s not a competition.


I agree that 2008 should be for focusing on those who’ve been there for us, not wasting negative energy on those that haven’t. I never really felt angry about having bc but the reactions (or non-reactions) of a couple of friends were the only thing that did make me angry. I didn’t send Xmas cards to two “friends” I lived with for two years at university. We weren’t in regular contact but met up every two years or so and had kept in touch. When another friend told them in sept of my dx, neither contacted me until Xmas time when one sent a card that didn’t even mention or acknowledge my illness. The other, a senior hospital pharmacist (who should know more about chemo and bc treatment than your average person) scribbled a quick comment in the card saying she hoped I’d “beaten it” which really upset me as I was half-way through chemo, loads of other treatment still to go and even then don’t know what the future holds for me.

Some people are just fairweather friends - wrapped up in their own lives and selfishly don’t want to take on anything unpleasant. Thankfully, others have hearts of gold. How different people are with us says nothing about us but speaks volumes about them as people, whether good or bad.


Most of my friends have stuck by me. A few have really shone out though and one of those wasn’t a strong friend to start off with she has had experience of fatigue over a long period of time and seems to know what to say and do. In some ways they really can’t know what it’s like and all of them have their own busy lives to lead.
I also think that some just have to decide if they can help and some don’t think that they have it in them.

Also consistency is important and not everyone has the umph to keep remembering to check up on me, or the time to act on a thought. I find I protect myself a bit from those who say the right thing, but I really wouldn’t trust them to be reliable.

On the whole I’ve found people esp. women quite open to being asked to do things. In fact a lot of people offered at the beginning and I made a note of their names under headings that most suited them. Most of them have their own children and understand that I need regular help, they are just so glad not to be in my position and the extra mouth to feed and take to football practice is not too much to ask.

sorry forgot to wish everyone well for 2008

love Pauline

Hi All

Classic example of lack of understanding about BC I read today in the Mirror. Brian Reade on talking about the New Years Honours List and a gong for Kylie refers to her illness as a “health scare”. I was so horrified I have emailed them a letter. How dare he refer to what we are going through as a “health scare”!

Oh grrrr. But I’ll calm down now, it’s not worth getting angry, will go and do some deep breathing exercises!

Cecelia. x

Have I deluded myself that the people I have known for a long time and thought of as friends have just found it too close to home to do too much or have much contact.

I just think the busy lives people have nowadays are a big factor and it’s less of a trauma to forget it until you are on the mend.
I have also told friends that offered to come to see me that we would arrange something when I am better. I would prefer people not to see me when I am unwell. ( mind you I don’t have young children or anyone dependant on me and don’t need help with my life, thanks to a wonderful OH)

Thanks to all for your comments, really helped me. I think you are right in that whilst we are going through this it is probably best to not dwell on these friends, avoid them if necessary but not cause any further stress by falling out…i need my energy just to get bathed at the moment! So thank you, i will put the thoughts to one side and just enjoy the company of those friends and family who are genuinely there for me. I just wish people could be a bit stronger sometimes and not run and hide just becaus they don’t know what to say… just a hug or a ‘it’s good to hear your voice’ would be lovely. Sometimes it makes me feel ashamed, as if i have contracted a horrible lurgy or i am weak and a loser for getting bc. Pah and pish to the lot of 'em! Thanks again. carrie x

Glad we have helped a bit Carrie, it’s good to hear other people’s thoughts. Most of us have had similar experiences so can share them and help each other make sense of them.

All the best

Cecelia. x

Hi Carrie
Pah and Pish made me laugh a lot. I will use that in future. It really sum it up without bitterness doesn’t it…Well Done Great to hear from you!


Yes Topper, harmless name calling kind of sums it up for me, i’ve always been childish! So now, the three friends in particular that have avoided me, i have now decided they shall be known individually as bah, pah and pish and they can all go whistle as far as i’m concerned!

Good to hear from you too. Carrie x

Hi Ladies,
This thread certainly rings true with me too. i usally put a chatty note in with my Christmas cards for friends i only see occassionally about what has been going on during the year etc. This year I mentioned my BC ‘experience’ but kept the tone light and didn’t go into too much detail. Don’t know if i was expecting simpathy, attention or just a good chat with some old friends anyway only one of my former university friends has bothered to reply (out of five), neither of the chaps who were ushers at my wedding have replied nor has another old friend. When I think of the nights I sat up discussing and comiserating with these friends over one friends ex-boyfriend, one friends unwanted pregnancy and one friends seriously ill parent, not to mention various phone calls I’ve made to keep in touch over the years I feel very let down. I can understand the men not getting in touch for fear of saying the wrong thing but the silence from my former girlfriends makes you realise who your true friends are

Hi Everyone

I think we have all been through this, one neighbour who used to pop in regularly for a cuppa hasn’t called since I told her my diagnosis in May and when we see each other out crosses the road. Last month I chased her up and when she complimented me on my new hair style I told her it was a wig as my hair was only just regrowing after Chemo she said was I still going on about that - once in six months? Also my aunt sent me her phone number as I hadn’t rung for a few months she couldn’t possibly ring me?
Have as good a 2008 as possible.

oh i get fed up of playing the texting games!! people text things that really wind me up like ‘how r u’ - and ‘hope you’re on the mend’ - i just think to myself, hang on a minute… can a text really cover it! i sometimes just text back a smiley face by way of being slightly sarcastic!

also, an old boyfriend has run for the hills… he was great at first, flowers, spa days, sympathetic ear… but since i’ve had the lumpectomy and chemo and hair has flown south for the winter, it seems that so has he… whenever i chase him he says he’s got a bad cold, flu, sore throat and feels rough… never asks about me. in fact if i mention i have chemo he just ignores it as if he can’t cope with even the mention. he said he’d take me for tea once he’s over his contagious bug thing (oh hum, get over it!) and I am now working out whether to bother at all because he’s let me down so badly… i was lying awake at three this morning working out whether to see him and then shock him by publicly whipping off my wig/buff/bandana in middle of posh restaurant or flashing him my scar!! then i’d laugh, run out and leave him to pay the bill… again my childish side coming out.

let’s love ourselves more by ignoring all the waste of timers and spending time with those that can go the distance… they’re worth their weight in gold.
carrie x