Had incurable cancer for over 5 years. My treatment options are getting fewer. I struggle with mental health now and don’t feel my friends are a great support to me. Should I tell them how I feel or accept their limitations and get help elsewhere.
Where are friends when you need them? - My Ovacome
You have friends here. But yes, if you need to talk it out, maybe ask for some counselling? I am also wrestling with the concept of being incurable. It lingers around the edge of my vision, never quite goes away xx
I'm so sorry about your situation. I also have incurable cancer. I have been surprised by my friends response to my cancer and wonder if it's the same for you. A handful of friends are on this journey with me, however a few who I thought would be just can't cope and have removed themselves or don't realise how painful some of their comments are eg talking too much about their plans for future. I have a brilliant poem which I Will post about friendship. Anyway to you, I guess the answer depends on if you think they have the capacity to understand what you need from them and change. Are you in contact with csn or palliative care nurse that you could talk this through with? Maybe they can help you to talk with your friends to help them understand what you need. I am sure they want to do right by you even if they aren't managing it. However I think it's also important to supplement this with professional emotional support and perhaps now is the time to seek this. Perhaps also some medication if you are not already on it. I would suggest you talk to your oncology team and see what can be offered to you. Sending love and hoping you find the support you need xxx
Thanks Sassy. I have a few good friends but how can they understand? I messaged one to explain how I need support and she’s coming around today. Shows she cares. Im looking into counselling again. I’m interested in the poem. I did ask for antidepressants but gp referring me to psychiatrist. Glad you have some friends on this journey with you. X
I am in a similar position to you. In fact I said to my GP, who has been with me from the beginning, that I thought I had outlived my usefulness. He didn’t quite know what to say, so I probably shouldn’t have put him in that position. The trouble is that all those years of on again off again treatment mean that the fatigue etc never really goes away and friends living normal lives carry on regardless. Friends celebrating their 70th birthday are difficult for me at the moment as the combination of Covid and treatment meant that mine was very quiet. I have reached out to some professional help and advise you to do the same.
Thanks AusTig. You know how it feels. Sometimes I feel it would easier to die now than go through the mental suffering and that is a waste of life. I’m 55 and hoped to have a long life.
Well, I have felt the same recently. It can be agonizing. I so want more time with my daughter, but the psychological pain is excruciating. I can barely sleep at night. I have much to do, but spend too much time watching old TV shows to briefly escape the anguish. My oncologist referred me to a psychologist that works exclusively with cancer patients, but I can’t see her until first week in December. In the meantime, anti-anxiety meds help. I hope you can find therapy and meds to help you cope and that more of your friends step up to support you. Sashay
Hi Sashay. Sorry to hear your feeling the same. I have medication to help me sleep. My friend yesterday was really good. She’s got lots of issues and to have a give and take conversation was therapeutic. Hope the psychological help works for you soon. X
Thanks. Funny, but my neighbor put up a squirrel 🐿 feeder for me last year when he learned of my OC. He generously refills it with corn every two weeks. The little beasts have kept me entertained and bring me joy every day. I like to feed them natural unsalted peanuts in the shell. Hope you can find joy each day. Sashay
Hi there xI agree with the others some good advice there xxx. My thoughts on friends and friendships are that we play a role within that friendship and sometimes that cant change. For example my best friend of 20+ years has had a difficult life and i have always been her support, suddenly i became ill and she couldn’t cope. I still see her but very little. I miss her as she is very funny and the life and soul of a party! For me at that point i had to make a decision accept the roles wont change and keep in touch or dont see her any more. I know she feels very guilty because she tells me when we do meet, but she just cant cope and i cant carry her burden and mine as well its too tiring. The best friendships i think are those with some balance, some give and take. I try and stand back and look at the wider picture of their life and mine, as they have life stressors too. we live ovarian cancer every day but they dont and their life goes on as normal.
It may be the same for you, maybe you were always the strong one? x my friendship group has changed, probably got smaller but much more sturdy and honest, and i have made some new friends along the way too, what about taking up an interest and meet new people? An art class a gentle exercise class somewhere where you are not the patient or ill just you xxx
Hi Betty. I’ve dumped one. When I was diagnosed 5 years ago, she said we’ll get through this together. Think I seen her four times since then. It was almost hilarious. I have good friends. It’s just they don’t know how to help, I suppose. X
Or maybe if you have always been the strong one, they don’t realise you are struggling, someone said to me i never seem like i need any help or support i am always upbeat, its a strong veneer i have mastered over many years and is not always helpful! Xx
Hi - I can relate to this from a slightly different perspective. My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 OC in March 2018. Numerous treatments later, many of our friends and family seem to be getting more and more distant with the exception of a hardcore few. I think it’s just too difficult for some people to deal with. Sometimes I think they’re in denial too, and if they don’t look maybe it’s just not happening. The medical teams at the hospital are amazing and there are many support groups out there. Reach out and link in with people who understand and can relate - just as you’re doing now. Take care, you always have a friend here x 🌼
It is a strength, not a weakness, to seek professional support, which I have done many times, taking the view it is not appropriate to lay some of one’s emotional needs on one’s friends and better to put all these on the table to an outsider. But you need to find a sympatico professional, so, if the first person does not work, move to another.
Thanks Trickysite. I will seek professional help. I have in the past spoke to a psychologist but never have found it much help.
I had a small circle of real long standing friends pre diagnosis, and only one has drifted away. She cant deal with illness in other people. The others have been brilliant, but sometimes I feel left out simply because Im not feeling well enough to go out and about. When we do go out as a group we dont talk about me at all, so it does help to take my mind of things, but they are really lovely phoning me individually etc.
You are amongst friends you have never met in this group who absolutely understand every emotion you are going through and 'feel your pain and anxiety. The questions you are asking about friends and their attitudes towards you I have recently been asking myself. I keep up regular telephone and video contact with friends who are not local to me. I have chosen not to tell friends my cancer is 'incurable' but rather that I am living with cancer which I will probably die 'with'(same difference really I know, but it helps me) I was diagnosed 2 years ago and have not yet been told there is NED. Initially I told friends the diagnosis with an outline of initial treatment and left it to them to look into further should they want to. Over 2 years it's actually been very interesting to see their different ways of interacting with me and my disease. I now carefully choose who I chat to and how I respond. I have one friend who from the beginning asked way too many questions that felt like questions she could use to protect herself from ending up in the same position. Understandable but not what I need.
Reach out to the friends you want to share your precious time. I have this image that goes through my mind of me on a travellator(like in an airport ) alongside my friends on one next to mine. Theirs is moving at normal speed and I'm in slow motion. They are smiling and happy and I am not.
As they are people I care about I have to take comfort that they have 'normality' in their lives and not resent that. I too experience the birthday issue. I love a party but was unable to celebrate my 60th in the way I would normally celebrate and that left me feeling this disease was taking so much from me. I have however decided it's just on hold until I get some stability to arrange a belated party.
Sorry if I've waffled on a bit.
I now accept friends too are dealing with their demons of having a friend diagnosed with an incurable disease and that menifests itself in different ways that don't mean they don't care or won't help if asked I have got to be prepared to ask for support.
Please use the helplines. Little less daunting than formal counselling especially if you have had bad experiences before. It's surprising how empowering just being listened to can be. Having your feeling a validated by some one on the end of a phone may give you some comfort. Xxxxxx
I had a "best friend" for 45 years. It is extremely painful when they cant handle your disease she had been in denial from the start. She quit being my friend after one year of me being diagnosed. I have made so many new friends .......on this site, at the infusion center, even in my doctors office and friends that I have known only for a few years. Let go and try not to worry about the lost ones but concentrate on what makes you smile and feel warm inside. This is a tough road we roll on! Stay strong and if you need help get it! Nothing weak about that there are plenty of us who have sought help or emotional support. We are here for each other!
They are probably not coping with your diagnosis, just as you are struggling. As we all know, it is not an easy thing to cope with. All my life I have tried not to rely on friends and not to burden them with my worries. People have their own worries too. Perhaps your diagnosis makes them think of their own mortality. Mine is incurable too. Was diagnosed in June last year and found to be inoperable. I put on make-up and try to put on a brave face to the world, although sometimes it is really, really hard. If I cannot be bothered to put on make-up I decide it is one of those days I don't want to meet the world and ask my husband to answer the door!
I think you should try to find professional counselling and support and perhaps ask your GP for something to help your mood. I hope you begin to feel a little better soon. This is such a hard journey. Love and hugs x
I used to be a psychotherapist and I struggled with my diagnosis at first. I may do again. The thing that makes me stay positive is checking in with how I actually feel physically each day and I take it one day at a time.
I then think about how weird it is to be alive on this little blue rock in this infinite universe in the first place.
It is such a huge privilege to have breathed air, seen sea, felt sun, hugged trees, planted flowers, painted paintings, watched birds……
Every moment is a gift especially if you’re not feeling physical pain.
I want to be able to leave when I want and on my terms. That’s why I’m working with Dignity in Dying so we get this last taboo normalised. It takes the fear away if I have a sense of control.
Our inner child is the frightened one looking at the future without being in and appreciating the present. We need the inner adult to come forward and be in the right now .
Wishing you the very best
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