Your relationship with cancer doesn’t have to ruin your relationships with everyone else.
We’ve been there, bud. Everyone copes with a cancer diagnosis differently. Even the very best relationships are bound to hit a few bumps in the road before, during, and after treatment.
Sometimes, our friends, family members, or partners show cancer “support” in ways that are triggering. In a highly charged environment, feelings can be hurt easily when people don’t get what you’re going through.
Let us know what sounds familiar:
Offering unsolicited “medical” advice from Dr. Google
Being weird and distant/not answering your texts
Stifling your independence out of fear you’re “too fragile”
Expecting you to be “strong” or that your daily life won’t change at all
Asking a billion questions you don’t even know the answers to
Being bossy about your diet/exercise/treatment
Only ever talking to you about cancer diagnosis and treatments
Talking to you about literally everything but your cancer
Here’s a simple mantra to remember when well-intentioned loved ones are driving you bonkers: “Love is stronger than cancer.” Your family, friends, and/or significant other love you, and they really do want to help.
With mutual respect and compassion for each other, you’ll get through this. In many cases, your bond will strengthen. Cancer has a way of “waking up” people to see which relationships in life are so sacred that they’re worth working on, even when it’s tough or awkward. We can’t recommend Suleika Jaouad’s “Between Two Kingdoms” enough, as she provides a unique perspective of what her parents and partner went through as her caregivers while she was in treatment and recovery.
Note: Certain strained relationships may not serve your healing well. Your energy is limited. It’s ok to take a step back to focus on your relationship with cancer instead, if necessary.
Need help connecting with your circle after a cancer diagnosis? Here are our best tips:
Consider their side.
One of the most searched for cancer keywords in Google is “What to say to someone with cancer.” That friend that’s being distant? They probably want to connect, but are scared shitless of saying the wrong thing. You need and deserve support right now. Unfortunately, your buds can’t read your mind to learn what kind of cancer support you like best. Most of them have never been in your shoes, and can’t quite grasp how you’re feeling. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t worried sick about you.
One option to reduce the walking-on-eggshells feeling is to share short social updates on buddhi (coming soon on our next feature rollout). Feel free to use our conversation starters and GIFs to get started. They’re a non-confrontational, lighthearted way to give your support team some gentle guidance toward whatever you need most at the moment.
Your buds may also benefit from visiting our conversation forum, where they can express their own feelings about your cancer diagnosis. Fear, helplessness, or uncertainty could all be keeping them from connecting with you the way they really want to. Chatting with others who’ve successfully navigated post-diagnosis relationship strains might help them better understand your perspective as a cancer patient.
Most of them have never been in your shoes, and can’t quite grasp how you’re feeling. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t worried sick about you.