Seeing this prompt, I immediately thought of things that had been abandoned. Then when talking with a friend, I realized that being abandoned by a person when you are most in need of their support would be the worst.
When I found out I had cancer last September, it was a shock of course. It probably wasn’t as big of a shock as it could’ve been since both my parents died from cancer and I always figured I’d get it too. I got the news by myself, which wasn’t because I had been abandoned by Hubs. I thought since the doctor hadn’t called with any news on the results or called with “You need to come to my office.” that all was well and I didn’t need Hubs to go with me. I figured it was just the regular check-up-after-surgery visit with a normal result of the biopsy. Really, I think they could’ve been more caring about it, but whatever.
Anyway, after I sort of stumbled out of the doctor’s office, I sat in the car for a bit, digesting it and trying to figure out how/when to tell my family. For me, putting this burden on my family was the hardest part. I knew I could handle whatever happened. I had no choice. I had to. I didn’t know how bad it was. All I knew was I had large diffuse B cell Lymphoma and that it attacks your immune system. I didn’t know a lot.
So sitting in the car, I’m thinking about telling my family and worrying about them and how they will handle it. How can I ease their fears but still be truthful. I think about the possible reactions of the people in my life and if I should even tell the outer circle of my family nucleus. People react so differently to bad news. I guess they don’t want to or can’t handle a difficult situation. Even my own sister had a weird reaction to the news. I think it was just the shock and she was in denial. I lost someone who I thought was a good friend. I’ve lost so-called friends before when I was going through the death of my parents, which was within a year of each other. One was my best friend and it hurt deeply.
On top of dealing with this bad news, the fear creeps in that maybe this thing will last a long time and end badly. And will Hubs be able to handle it or will he bug out and abandon me? The thought of being abandoned was the biggest fear. Not taking chemo, not dying. I didn’t think about dying. At least not much. Even after I found out it was Stage 4 and in multiple places in my body. I always had faith that the doctors and the chemo would kill it.
As it turns out, Hubs stuck with me. It was hard on him, because it was something he couldn’t fix. He had to do most of the stuff that I’d been doing. Plus just the overall stress of someone you love having cancer was a load to bear. My sister as well as my bro-in-law really stepped up and gave us a lot of support. My son filled in doing whatever I needed. It meant the world to me because it showed how much they really cared about me. It made me feel safer just knowing that they were there for me. My friends… well, there were well-wishes when I first told the few that I told. But after that, there was silence and only a couple of them checked in later to see how I was doing. I wasn’t looking for someone to hold my hand and I didn’t need to talk about cancer the whole time. If they wanted to ask questions, that was fine. But I could’ve used some company some times just for conversation about every day life.
I know it’s uncomfortable for people because they don’t know what to say or how to act. I guess for fear of hurting my feelings or offending me. I get it. My sister said she didn’t know what to say or how to act. I said “You don’t have to worry about that. You don’t have to act any certain way. Just be yourself. I DON’T CARE about you hurting my feelings or offending me. That is the very least of my problems.” I know that the people who care about me wouldn’t intentionally hurt my feelings and I’m not easily offended. Just like I knew her initial reaction to the bad news (which was flippant) was because of shock and a form of self-protection to that.
I guess my message after all of this is to people who have friends and relatives who have had something bad happen to them. Don’t abandon them because of your fear. If you care about them, be who you are, who you’ve always been to them. I’m sure they’d rather have you around than not, because you’re afraid of hurting their feelings or offending them. I bet if you just tell them you’re feeling awkward, or you’re worried about hurting them, they’ll tell you to just be the person they’ve always loved. The rest is superfluous.