How we interact and maintenance that friendship depends on how they react to our news. Example...I expected support from an acquaintance that had experienced cancer herself. But I found regardless of what I was told, she had it worse, longer or better. No support, just competition so I flicked her and others like her.
Some friends were cautious and afraid of me. I was gentle with them. I didn't give them a lot of details, but they stayed in touch with the vague "how you feeling?" For them, the answer is fine and I talked about something non-cancer. I valued them because frankly at this time in my life...it was NICE to have someone who didn't want to talk cancer every moment. Their questions were usually tentative but I didn't mind. I explained things if they wanted to learn. But it was obvious that knowing someone with cancer was scary for them because it made it real that as women they were at risk. I actually gave them a lot of grace and patience.
|Courtesy of Tracy A.|
There's those obnoxious friends who told me...Let me know if I can help...as they scurried away. I quickly learned really meant "Oh God, don't let her ask me to do anything because I'm already a busy soccer mom" (or other busy work). I learned to smile, nod and ignore them. I was disappointed by them but I did NOT waste any expectations on them.
Others meant well and wanted to help, (kind of like infertility advice) some were bossy and manipulative about what I "need to do". I avoided them and didn't invest anything. They weren't comfortable with me unless I followed their instructions on how to survive and beat this disease. We didn't draw closer, but didn't draw apart either. I moved them to the outside ring of friendship.
Then there were the helpless ones...the ones who whine, "I want to help but I just don't know what to do..." (watch me roll my eyes). It doesn't take half a brain to drop off a casserole, special treat, books, come vacuum, drop off groceries but I was astounded by how many times I heard that. One was my sister...she complained I wouldn't let her do anything for me. But everything she suggested, required something from me, going out to dinner, going shopping with her, baby sitting her kid, baking her cakes... Just bring me some yogurt and banana pops and we're good for Pete's sake. I had to invest a lot of patience with these people. They mean well but they are totally clueless.
Cancer is one of those events that reveals the true character of someone and their relationship to you. By the time you are done with treatment, you have figured out who your real friends are.
|Becky Edward and Trish Turner celebrating my last day of radiation with me!|