Since going through my second cancer diagnosis, I seem to have perfected the art of losing friendships. I could now count on one hand the number of close friends that I have left.
Whilst I am fully aware that friendship is all about quality, not quantity, I just wanted to share a couple of my own experiences as I think it’s important for people to realise that just because I (or anyone else for that matter) have cancer, it doesn’t mean I cannot still be your friend. The things you loved about me pre-cancer, are still there.
Sure, I will admit that there are many times I have had to cancel or reschedule plans, or I am going through long periods of recovery time and can’t see you at all. But it’s not due to me being lazy or being a shit friend, it’s because I’m fighting to stay alive.
I am very open and honest about my situation to those closest to me, so if you want or need to know something, I always tell you how it is.
With the vast array of communication tools these days, it’s usually by choice that someone has dropped off the radar. I make a conscious effort to stay in touch on a regular basis with the ones that I love, but friendship is a two-way street, if I’m not getting much from you then you’re not going to get much back from me.
I don’t consider myself to be a high maintenance “sick friend”. I don’t ask anything of anyone – I even struggle to ask my parents for help! I don’t believe that I am “draining” to be around or to talk to, I am still that same person that brought us together as friends in the first place. I am still me, I just have some extra priorities lumped on me right now.
After my first diagnosis, people slowly started to drop off because I could no longer go out with them. My days of partying and drinking every weekend were over, so I guess that helped separate the friendships based purely on partying from the friendships based on genuine love.
When I started to recover from my first diagnosis, I actually had to ask to be invited to things again… several times. I would openly put it out there, that I wanted to be invited to catch-ups again, but somehow my message never really got through, and I continued to be left out.
I also had a weird situation when a person I went to high school with over ten years ago came out of the woodworks and wanted to be there for me. I thought it was strange at first, as we were never friends in school and hadn’t seen one another since we graduated, but she was persistent and desperately wanted to do nice things for me and I thought OK, I am losing friends to cancer so maybe I should allow myself to gain friends due to cancer.