metastatic breast cancer affects social life

Metastatic breast cancer affects every part of one’s life. We focus a lot of attention on the obvious effects, which include every degree and notch on the scale of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms.

While feeling lousy this week and wanting to be in touch with people but knowing I did not have the strength to call or write to friends, I started thinking about how cancer has changed my social life. For most of my life I have enjoyed a healthy social life. During the time of career building or growth, socializing sometimes suffered a bit. But for most of my life I worked hard and played hard.

I notice now that one of the biggest problems with managing my metastatic breast cancer is that I want desperately to keep in touch with friends, but I simply do not have the stamina to do what I want when I want. I can socialize or talk with friends, but I have to pace myself. I love talking and writing, but I do not have the sustained energy to write a lot of e-mail or letters like I used to do.

My careers in writing and in dance required constant communication, and I loved that part of the job. And, yet, now, what I love so much suffers. I no longer write the number of letters, long-hand or e-mail, to stay in touch; some days I want to call people and run out of steam before I can place the call. Friends say, Let me know when you want to get together. I want to see them. Setting up a lunch or dinner is a priority. But cancer is a hungry monster, sucking our strength and dominating every moment of the day whether we acknowledge it or not.

Socializing is still as important to us as it was previously, and maybe even more than some realize. The difference is that we may be unable to initiate it as we did in the past or even be unable to respond to calls or e-mail while we cope. In the end, a good relationship survives and maybe even grows with the understanding that simple communication is what really matters, regardless of the initiator.

Ironically, after I wrote this post, I visited my friend’s blog. It was a strange and rather wonderful moment for me to read Eileen’s entry about this very topic.

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© 2004–2011 Donna Peach. All rights reserved.

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6 responses to “metastatic breast cancer affects social life

  1. You hit the nail on the head. I though maybe I was getting lazy or just feeling sorry for myself. There are so many things I want to do, just never seems to be enough time or energy

  2. Wow Donna I think this is the post I’ve been meaning to write but haven’t found the wherewithal. Thank you. Trying to manage mets and your life sometimes feels insurmountable. If it’s not one thing it’s another. I had another scare this week which landed me in the hospital, and has now resulted in me having to cancel some vacation plans, because no one wants me flying whilst I recuperate. And all I can think about is that cliche’ that says “Cancer doesn’t define me”. Well, no I don’t like to think that it DEFINES me, but at the mets stage it sure does DIRECT what you do most of the time. That’s what I find so frustrating, and what many people simply don’t understand. In fact after this latest episode, a friend tried to be helpful and asked me if I could just compartmentalize this latest thing….if only, it were that simple. The point being that I don’t feel like I’ve been able to catch a break in ages. We just seem to lurch from one crisis to another. Great post – I’m sharing on my FB page.

  3. Thank you for saying what I have been feeling. I have no social interaction anymore since I was diagnosed with mestatic breast cancer, other than facebook. What’s so bad is I don’t even have the energy to spend time with my family and the one suffering most from this is my 11 year old son. It’s so heartbreaking when my son asks me to play a game with him or come outside with him and I have to tell him I can’t because I’m so tired and I don’t feel good.

    Thanks for sharing this, I feel a little better knowing I’m not alone.
    Jorjanne

  4. Pingback: Weekly Round Up « Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer

  5. Hi Donna, I found your blog through the Journey Beyond Breast Cancer blog’s roundup today. I am a metastatic breast cancer survivor who, gratefully, is doing well now. I wonder sometimes if friends distance themselves from me because of fears they have about me. Thanks for your honest post. I invite you to visit my blog for hope and fellowship.

  6. Hi Donna,
    I understand your frustrations, Donna, as much as a person without mets is able to anyway. It’s sad when simple communication becomes so hard, because we are social beings aren’t we? I think you made an important point in saying the important relationships will survive.

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