metastatic breast cancer can mean search for new support

It is no surprise that many people have a fear of cancer extending from having it themselves to others close to them having it. When, therefore, a friend or family member comes home from the doctor one day with not just the C word but the incurable, advanced form: metastatic cancer, it’s sometimes difficult, if not impossible, for friends or family members to accept the reality. Consequently, many members of the metastatic breast cancer community find that in addition to coping with the disease, its treatment and side effects, they have to deal with the loss of friends and emotional support. Some report that friends or family members refuse to acknowledge the diagnosis, and others report that friends or family members simply avoid the topic, refusing to ask even a simple How are you. Still others stop communicating with you and exit from your little corner of their lives.

Many women note experiences with friends or family members who sever conversation with responsive comments like, Oh, no, don’t say that, Don’t worry, you’ll be ok, and You must be doing great because you look good. When you need to discuss the frightening aspects of this diagnosis, the uncertainties, the fears about your future, your mortality, you find that your good friend or family member is unable to listen and, most likely, respond to your comments. It’s not that she does not want to help you, but she is unable to deal with the topic because of her own fears. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to lose relationships when you get a diagnosis of metastatic cancer.

It doesn’t matter whether your support comes from a spouse, a family member or a friend; it only matters that you are able to express what you need to share without being shut down. Support is one of the most important aspects of coping with this diagnosis, and it’s worth seeking a new source if you don’t have the support already. If you need to seek support outside your family or current friendships, try support groups at your medical center, local volunteer organizations and online sites. You may be surprised at the level of support you will find in online groups, but you may also find the support you need in local, person-to-person groups. Finally, many treatment centers also offer buddy systems that connect buddies with similar diagnoses.

In any case, find someone who will listen to you and with whom you don’t need to wear your happy face. Find someone who won’t run away when all you want to do is scream.

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© 2004-2009 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

2 responses to “metastatic breast cancer can mean search for new support

  1. Donna, so true … people try and make you feel better by ‘being positive’ when what you really need is to be listened to. You’ve expressed it well.

    All the best to you.

  2. Dear Donna,

    What great information, your site is wonderful! I’d like to recommend another organization to your readers — one that helped me tremendously while I was going through treatment. It’s called Healing Odyssey (www.healingodyssey.org) and they hold weekend retreats for women with any type of cancer. There is also the Wellness Community…

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