You are right - they aren't worth it! As for the bf who said people with cancer look ill, I have never heard such utter tosh. I am currently undergoing rads and most people I see at my cancer unit look very well, including myself. I can assure you if it wasn't for the hair loss you would be at pains to know I had anything wrong with me most of the time. Even my breast surgeon and oncologists have remarked on how well I look.
Sometimes I just think that people are really insensitive. I have a friend who I have known since primary school, and is my hairdresser. I proudly went round to show her my wig. She got her brother, who is bald to put it on and then laughed hysterically as she took pictures of him on her phone. I now don't have the confidence to wear the wig, as now think people will laugh at me. When I asked her to take the pictures of her phone she asked why?
The guy that I had been seeing for eight months told me that I didn't have cancer, and I was a drama queen. Apparently he knew people with cancer, and they looked ill. Also said that if I went on about losing my hair, he would leave and come back when the treatment had finished. He finally walked out on me 10 days before Christmas, 3 weeks after my lumpectomy and 4 weeks after I paid for him to go to New York at no expense to himself. I could kick myself now for not having the b***s to tell him where to go when I was diagnosed. Who needs that sort of support.
My brother has been to see me twice. He lives 10 mins away. Not once has he asked if there is anything he could do to help. I am a single parent of two children, and at present do not drive (taking lessons for a year.....can't get my head around reversing around a corner!) My sister in law does drive, and does not work, but not once have either of them offered to help. I am now distancing myself from all people who cannot be there at a lonely, scary, and sometimes very sad time in my life........they are just not worth it.
I so agree with what you say about the quality of relationships. I decided not long after diagnosis that I didn't want to be around what I refer to as "toxic frends" - i.e. the ones who want you to listen to all their problems but who don't really want to know much about yours. I have also dumped a couple of relatives who suffer from hypochondria as I cannot be bothered listening to all their ailments and trying to feign sympathy. One of them had the cheek to give me a book about giving up chemo and treating yourself by eating organic fruit and veg - I ended up having a row with her over the phone as she just went on about it for about an hour.
Some of the best friends I have at the moment are people I no longer live near and see infrequently - they are keeping me going with their cards and letters, even neighbours have kindly posted cards through my letterbox.
friends and family Hi Caroline,
I totally understand about what you say about friends deserting you. One of my oldest friends is one that I have known for over 20 years we were at University together and I had always been there for her when she has been in some difficult situations in her relationship with a married man, although I did not condone her affair I tried to be there for her. When I told her about the bc she became very distant didn't get in touch for ages and when she did she was very strange in the way she was very cold. I know she would have struggled with what to do or say but I don't think she even tried she just distanced herself from me.
When I was first diagnosed - my brother chose to send me 2line emails to see if I was ok. My mother in law was acting like I was going into hospital to have an ingrown nail removed when I was going in for a mastectomy and the most of my OH's family distanced themselves when I had hoped they would have been there for him more as he has been brilliant with me but this is so hard on him.
How I am seeing it now is as the bc sorting out those people who are going to continue to be apart of my life from now on - those that have been there for us will be and those that have not won't be. I don't need a lot of friends it is quality of the relationships rather than the number so what I had found quite upsetting to begin with I have now got straight in my mind. It is a flaw in those people that makes them behave in the way they have - their fears/ selfishness/emotional immaturity so there is little we can do about it and so we should just cherish the people that are there for us even more. Good luck with everything.
it's at times like this... I found the whole bc diagnosis quite enlightening. I have two friends who had both been touched by it themselves. And their reactions were so different. Friend 1 was there for me on my terms - visited me when I was in hospital, sent me text messages and let me choose when I responded. Told me after the event that she had cried when I told her I had had all my hair shaved off (very therapeutic actually!). Friend 2 - it was all about her - she didn't have anaesthetic when she had her biopsy, she didn't have chemo, she wasn't offered tamoxifen. I didn't want it talked about - didn't care about the speculation - I thought it was my place to tell people as I when I saw fit. So she told her friend because she was so upset - and said it didn't matter because I didn't know her. That'll be why I have met her several times at social dos then.
Also there was an article by Kirstin Scott Thomas in a magazine towards the end of 2004 - and I was so touched by the way she supported a friend through bc. Just got it so right...
And then there is my Mum. Everyone thinks my Mum is this timid, shy, terrified sometimes, little woman. But no. My Mum has this inner strength - that if I have half of it - then I'll be just fine. My Dad and brother found it all rather difficult - and yes there were times when Mum and I cried on the phone (I live in Dorset, they live in Scotland) - and they did insist on coming down at one point... But Mum was fantastic. She even asked to see my scars - that sounds wierd I know. But we're close. And she is a fabulous woman.
And the one thing I would say finally is that - I've spent a lot of time being the patient. I had eye ops as a kid, IVF treatment. And then in 2000 my Dad had heart bypass surgery. And my perspective changed. I realised that the family and friends have needs to - and although it's pretty bad as the patient - it's also pretty terrifying sitting in the chair beside the bed... So I did try to cut them some slack - not always successful - but I did try...
This has been very difficult for my husband as he has a very strained relationship with his parents who are down in London. I haven't spoken to them since before we got married (we all fell out in 1985 over the head of some very nasty things my MiL said about me, she is a real life Pauline Fowler I'm afraid). They are in their 70s now, but it's not as if she is the sort of mother he can just ring up, she has even told him in the past she has never felt like a mother towards him. He goes to London to visit about once a year and when they have a conversation his mother does not make eye contact with him. His father is totally under the thumb and takes the mum's side in everything and my OH has no respect for him as he cannot assert himself.
Thankfully, he is on good terms with his sister and is able to chat to her about things, he also has some good male friends he is able to talk to about things. What is it with families?
Thank goodness for friends After I was diagnosed I found my parents could not handle the situation at all. In fact I didn't see them for over two years!! After two years I made the initial contact.... It was because I was so afraid that I wouldn't forgive myself if anything happened to either of my elderly parents.
So I thank my lucky stars for a few extremely good friends. I now have a very strained relationship with my parents.
friends reactions my mum was diagnosed in Aug 05, i know what u mean by peoples reactions being completely unbelievable at times. I lost some friends, some just completely blanked me in the end because i didnt have time to be around them, i was looking after mum and she was always going to be my number one priority, its a terrible time to be confronted with some peoples selfishness and insensitivity.
Mum passed away last aug and to my utter disbelief two months later while talking to someone about it they told me to 'get over it' and stop wollowing in it, people can be so cruel but please remember YOU are the important one in this and you are not selfish. i cant imagine what its llike to be in your position and it must be so much more difficult to take from someone as close as your sister.
I wish you all the best with your treatment
Sisters Hi Cherub,
It sounds rather like your sister is as selfish as mine...As i first posted my sister didn't bother to give me any help during my op or indeed since treatment has finished, i occasionally get a text from her.. but it always avoids what has happened...It would have been nice if she could have found it within her to show a little kindness and concern.. nevertheless it wasn't to be... i can't see that we will ever be friends like we were before this illness happened....
It is time for us to put ourselves first and be as selfish as our sisters, Life after breast cancer is very different than life before it...
I have used Skype in the past, but it's not very good when you ring her part of the world - your voice bounces back to you as an echo and it's a bit "over and out" so difficult to have a normal conversation. Thing is, we have bent over backwards to help her for years as she's single and we're just fed up with it now I'm afraid.
A relative of ours is a senior oncologist and he has sent her a letter passing on all his details at home and work for me as he would like me to get in contact with him so he can offer some impartial support and advice - she sent a message last week saying she would pass everything on to me (didn't have the details on her as he had been out for 7 nights again!). So far nothing and I'm a bit p'd off at that as she's had this for ages apparently - it was in a Christmas card she received from him!
I can completely sympathise with people disappearing on you after a cancer diagnosis and unfortunately there's not much you can really do about it. They often cannot cope with what you've been through and I've certainly found I've become less tolerant of other people's cr*p in the 18 months since my diagnosis.
However I can suggest that if you want to call your sister and the 50p / minute charge is too much then you should call her on Skype (www.skype.com). You can sign up for free and it gives you unlimited free calls anywhere in the world over the Internet. At least if she joins it as well she won't then be able to use finances as an excuse for not calling you!
I can't really afford to ring my sis as it's 50p a minute, so we email. Sometimes she will go a whole week without replying and say she's been out 7 nights. I feel she can afford to ring me as she's on a tax free salary, earning loads and everything costs so little where she is. However, when she does ring she keeps saying "I must go now, this is costing a lot!" I wouldn't mind, but she is dependent on me for her personal email address as it's being run from my internet account in the UK! She also keeps saying to keep her posted on treatment, doctors, etc., but I know by the replies that she hasn't read half the info either!
I just get on with it now, couldn't care less and I'm getting used to being totally selfish. I need to just be there for myself now I figure, she's older than me and needs to look after herself now. If she comes back with nowhere to stay she'll have to get a hotel or flat. When she is here I'm expected to clear space for clothes and stuff and empty drawers out for her. I'm adamant I'm not doing it any more! I can't be bothered with anyone under our feet at the moment anyway.
It's interesting to see I'm not the only one with inconsiderate "friends" and family. My dad phoned me 2 days after my 5th chemo on 20th December. I was very unwell and told him this. The panic in his voice was almost tangible! I could tell he could n't wait to get off the phone. He cut any conversation short saying he'd phone me in a couple of days when perhaps I'd be feeling better. I have n't heard from him since.
My mother has phoned me perhaps half a dozen times since I was diagnosed on 1st August last year and consoles herself by making statements to the effect that i'm "alright now". I've just finished chemo and am waiting to start radiotherapy on 7th Feb. A so called friend of mine only calls when she wants something and never asks how I am.
Needless to say I have really found out who my real friends and family are. My partner's mother has been more considerate and done more for me than blood relatives. I will not be making any great effort to stay in touch with the aforementioned. Knickers to them!!
Thankyou ladies Thankyou ladies for your replies.
We al have our own way of dealing wih this dreaded illness, and our friends and relations have theirs.
As we have found out, some choose to ignore us because they can't deal with it, others don't know what to say. There will never be an easy answer to how all of this is approached, all we care about, on diagnosis, is to get rid of it and get the tratment over and done with, so our lives can resume to some sort of normality once the rollercoaster is finished....
In the process, we can only think of ourselves and what we are going through.....You are right, Cherub, your sister will have to sort herself out on this occason... cos in the nicest possible way you have your life to think of... and are trying to establish a new business, your life goes on, after what you/i/we have been through.... our lives have been interrupted and turned upside down... this is where a little understanding from those on the outside wouldn't come amiss...At the end of the day, she will still be your sister and your friend, whatever the outcome.
cherub I wasn't suggesting that bc ladies should run a nannying service for the self centred- just that they should be inclusive with near and dear who [may] want to help.
Life, as my aunt used to say, is not a one way street. Time your big sis did something for you! Be firm, dilly
I was diagnosed in Oct last year and for the first 6 weeks my brother couldn't look me in the eye when he was talking to me, he just could not deal with this at all.
I can see things from the other side as well as I have an older sister working abroad who is single and quite selfish. Me and OH have always been around to help her sort out problems and stuff. Thing is, she wants to come home this year for good and stay with us indefinitely until she either buys a house or moves on somewhere else. Problem for us is that we haven't got room as we are sleeping in 2 rooms and our 3rd room is an office as we are trying to establish a web design business. Sis tends to just use out house as a free base while she spends all her time socialising and visiting friends. She isn't happy about not being able to come here as she thinks the boxroom is "her" room and thinks we should just take her in, but I just feel this time she has to sort her own problems and situation out. I'm not good at being selfish but at the moment I have to be and if she cannot handle that then it's tough I'm afraid.
Caroline some of it is fear and some of it is dodging the column- the sick or miserable may waste an egoist's time -hence hasty exit.
The fear thing is at least understandable though not commendable.
Then there is communication- were you too brave about it all- should YOU have voiced enough of your pain and fear to them so that they understood and did not feel shut out? My Macmillan Nurse is always yammering on about those who want to help but don't know how to - confiding in them gently to see how much they want/ are able to take on board.
For goodness sake don't depart to a hermitage- what we bcs need is our window on to the big outside world where a lot more than cancer is going on and friends bring in all the lovely fresh air and gossip.
My sister hasn't spoken to me since last Feb when she learnt that I was going into hospital for another ca op- it happens to lots of us!
But I've had help and kindness from daughters and friends- swings and roundabouts, dilly
Finding out who our friends are in our time of need Hi all,
I was diagnosed with the dreaded disease in nov 05, had a lumpectomy and then rads in feb 06....
I have found friends and relatives have disappeared in droves, and it baffles me as to why... i felt i had behaved with dignity and had not complained very much.. but it has been said to me.. i am selfish and don't consider others.. this was said to me by my sister, who i had always considered to be my best friend... i don't know what happened ... except i got breast cancer...
No one supported me during this terrible time... i looked after myself with very very little help from others....
I have very little contact with my sister now... because i cannot get over how she has been to me, she has said some really dreadful things to me during the last 9 months or so...
So not only do we have the illness to deal with ... but lose so called friends in the process... As far as i am concerned now.. it is up to her and to the rest... i do not do the chasing and i sincerely hope they never find themselves with this illness...they may too find themselves disgarded.
The point i am making.. is there really are no friends worthy of being called my friend at this point in my recovery..... and i don't care anymore...
Wonder if this has happened to anyone else.