Bald 'n Sassy

Life is for the living. Live simply. Expect less.

Cancer and friends

During my cup of green tea latte with a biscuit on the side yesterday afternoon, I wanted to take the time to pen down my thoughts on how my ordeal over the last few months has possibly changed the dynamics between friends.

One of the key observation I have noticed is how some friendships have strengthened while others has fizzled out. For those friends who know me best, they have stuck with me and joined me on a roller coaster ride. And they happily do so without any prompting from me. They make the effort to spare few minutes from their busy schedules to send a text message or a instant message to see how I am. It is these set of close friends whom I cherish the most. They know I will reciprocate in times of need.

On the other hand, there are friends who offered to help if I needed anything. When I do call upon to redeem that offer, they bail on me. One reason that I heard when I asked if they could drive me to my medical appointment was “Oh I am not a morning person. Sorry I can’t help you”. That response threw me off guard and didn’t know what to say to that. Whatever the reason maybe, perhaps I am too sensitive and expectations are high or maybe even high maintenance.

There are those friends who has slowly distanced themselves after learning the recurrence of my cancer. I am not tracking every single friend who checks up on me. I’m selective with people when it comes to disclosing personal details. I’ll be honest to say that I was saddened that those handful of friends just “disappeared”. I do make attempts to connect with them once in a while but some just don’t bother replying. I am in the over analyzing mood and here are some of the possible excuses I conjured up.

1. Too busy ;
2. Not interested to know anymore ;
3. Don’t wish to “know” or hang around with a cancer patient ;
4. They “fear” me; don’t have anything to say or scared to say that may upset me.

You may think that I am a little crazy on point number three. But in fact I have come across people who don’t like hanging around with sick people because it is depressing to them. Cancer patients’ may look gaunt, no hair or ill from the medications.

The “fear” I am referring to perception of cancer to them. Perhaps they don’t wish to deal with the emotional and physical demands who has cancer. From that point of view, I can completely understand this. For me, I want my friends to inject some laughter, share gossips and distract me from the daily doldrums of being a cancer patient. I might be asking too much from friends. Overall, it takes some guts from my friends to tolerate my ups and downs. It is also about finding the right balance when to be there and giving space.

The last six months has been a great test bed for me to see who are my true friends are. My final thought for the evening is “why does it take a dramatic event to occur to realize who will be there for you?” – something for all of us to ponder on.

“I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe.” Dalai Lama


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2 thoughts on “Cancer and friends

  1. Good post CY.

    I think everyone can group their friends and family members into different categories/levels based on how much they might be able to support us in times of need – with that “time of need” being anything from at one end a major situation such as needing support when going through an illness, to at the other end something relatively minor like needing company and a good chat when faced with an upcoming lunch or dinner time!

    I think with most everyone we know, from the closest to the most distant, if we made the same request to all of them, we are going to get a sliding-scale response. It’s just human nature. But from reading your post, I can see that you were saddened by friends who you thought were there for you, but actually gave you a lukewarm response.

    And sure, when we are not doing so well, some people are going to turn their noses up and not offer assistance, and others will – with them not forgetting the person they knew, and were friends with before circumstances changed. If you Google “fair weather friends” on Google you will get a bunch of results, one interesting page being:

    I’m afraid that I couldn’t help out with a ride to your medical appointment, as I’m 9000 miles away… I think that could just be the reason why you didn’t ask me πŸ™‚

    Take care!

  2. Thanks for sharing the link, Simon.

    Yes, I agree that there will be sliding scales when it comes to responses. We are definitely programmed differently.

    You mean you don’t have a transporter like Star Trek “Beam me up, Scotty” πŸ™‚

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