- by Hall Larry
Does Having Cancer Isolate You? Fortunately, not all people, when they are diagnosed with cancer, suffer from isolation. The sad fact is some do. We’ll get to what that means in a few moments. Most of us have our family around us and friends that show concern for our welfare. In fact, this is an important part of the recovery for a lot of patients.
Chemotherapy is sometimes quite debilitating and help and support is often needed for the simplest of tasks. Cancer in itself can leave you feeling very tired and unable to cope with everyday tasks, so that support is essential and is important in many ways. Physically, emotionally and maybe even financially. However, for some the isolation comes in a different way. Friends don’t seem to call. Relatives are not always around when you need them. Even spouses can find it hard to talk about cancer and what it involves. This is the kind of isolation I am talking about.
In one of my stories the woman writing it used to have lunch three or four times a week with the same group of friends. When she told one of them she was sick and had cancer the woman’s only reply was, ‘it was going to be a nuisance having to find someone to replace her at the lunch table to make up the numbers.’ Needless to say the lady with cancer was shocked at her so called friend’s attitude.
In another story a woman’s best friend failed to visit her when she was in hospital and stayed away for six weeks after her operation. They had known each other since their school days and it deeply hurt her. There are many reasons why people behave this way. I’m not sure it’s because they don’t care but more to do with people feeling they don’t know what to say or even what to do. Maybe they don’t want to be faced with their own mortality. If a friend can get cancer so can they. Is that too hard to handle for some people?
People who get cancer are usually quite absorbed with their condition. You can hardly blame them. We are mostly conditioned to believe if we get cancer that’s it. It’s all over. Of course, this isn’t true but it’s frightening and the condition can take over someone’s life so that too much focus is on the condition they have. When this happens it can be hard for others to hear. Close friends and relatives should be able understand this and help in any way they can but some might feel overwhelmed, not knowing what to say or how behave. It’s then easier to not visit or avoid talking to the cancer patient as a way of coping. I’ve read a number of posts on forums where cancer sufferers have said they were isolated in this way and they felt hurt and resentful. This is understandable given they are the ones with the cancer but what can you do about these situations? We are all suffering if a loved one has this disease but we need to be there for them at their time of need even if its uncomfortable for us.