Friday, August 16, 2013

Other People's Reactions

One of the most difficult aspects of having received a cancer diagnosis, I'm finding, is the having to inform friends and family. Last night was the meeting of my home group - my sponsor was chairing, and we'd agreed yesterday afternoon, when we met, that it would be a lot easier for me to speak about it at the start of my sharing, rather than have to tell each person individually. I warned her that at the end of the meeting, I was going to quickly say goodbye and shoot out the door as quickly as I was able, so as not to have to deal with all the reactions.

I didn't manage very well, because no sooner had the serenity prayer been said, than I was engulfed in a hug from a woman I know well, who started weeping on my shoulder. I calmed her down, said goodbye, and tried to head for the exit, but was grabbed from behind by another woman who wanted to hug me and began to cry, and then another and... by the time I reached the doorway, I was feeling exhausted by the emotion and the people wanting me to soothe and comfort them, in their pain, about my health.

When just before the doorway, I was grabbed by someone who would fall into the category, "Although you may not like all of us, you'll love us in a very special way" I had had enough. I ducked her clutching arms and burst out into the hallway, up the few steps, through the outside doors, and into the fresh, cool night air.

I felt used up, stressed out, and wanted nothing more than to go home to my partner's love and comfort. By the time I arrived at his place, and he met me with open arms, I was teary-eyed with frustration and emotional exhaustion. I stood with my face pressed against his chest and him giving me soft kisses on the top of my head, and said grumpily, "They acted like I was being taken out to be hanged in the morning!"

I don't recall how he replied, but it wasn't long before I'd regained myself, and the evening went on as usual, in comfort, love, acceptance, and fun. He's such a treat to be with.


  1. I would be like you--not wanting all the blubbering and stuff. You are still very much alive. I don't get the motives in all of the emotional outbursts. A simple statement saying that I hope you will be okay is enough.

    1. I think they were giving "comfort" to comfort themselves.

      I personally never know what do myself in a situation like this when a friend tells me a diagnosis.

  2. Some people! :)

    I can see why you wouldn't want to console people about your own health. As far as I see, there is no need for you to do so!

  3. Sounds like you've met a really lovely guy. Thanks for your writings. I check in from time to time and find them very comforting and that they gave me insight into my own mind. Stay well. And warmest luck for the treatment journey ahead. Xx

  4. You are loved. Cancer scares people...

  5. So many of us are thinking of you and praying for you. We women just tend to be so emotional like that. I'm sure your group members just wanted to love on you, but sorry it felt so exhausting when you are just trying to process all of this yourself. My brother-in-law worked as a social worker with cancer patients at Florida Hospital for 20 years and he always said, "Cancer is not a death sentence. But it is a family issue." So sorry you are dealing with this. But I am thankful you have a wonderful, loving man to be your family. Praying that you have strength and peace and growth in the process of dealing with all that lies ahead. Thanks for keeping us posted as much as you are comfortable with. Your blog has been so wonderful for me, and I wish you all the best.

  6. Sorry to hear about your recent cancer diagnosis. It must have been hard to try to get out the door. Such a great example of how we (Al-Anons) make everything about us. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves we are in the rooms because we are trying to live life differently. When I my best friend had a nervous breakdown many years ago I did the same thing you described I made it all about me. So sad but I just didn't know better. When we know better we do better. Good luck to you.

  7. I've been through the same thing, including people asking very personal questions that actually made me laugh. Like, what's your prognosis! And people sometimes just cannot keep the shock from showing; however, I know most of these people meant well. If you have further treatment, though, it might be helpful to tell one person what's going on and then ask them to pass the word to others. After I came home from the hospital, I got so many phone calls that the phone was busy for hours, and some old friends who couldn't get through thought something really bad was going on.
    There is nothing so scary as the minutes after such a diagnosis (in my experience) and you simply can't think about it all the time, so talking to people constantly about how you are just keeps the fear going. A friend with cancer just asked her best friend to tell everyone to stop calling and asking for updates--very understandable. You don't want to stop living and just become the cancer patient, but because of their fear, sometimes people do make it hard.
    I wish you all the best in this and am so glad that you have a wonderful companion. Your blog has helped me so much to live better in the program. Live and let live is what it's all about.

  8. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Please do keep us posted on your treatment and progress as you feel you can.

    I think sometimes even the most well meaning people can be a little thoughtless. You shouldn't be consoling them, they should be consoling you and offering to help where needed. It sounds like there is a lot of genuine love and concern there, but jeez...

    So happy to hear of your newly found guy friend!

  9. I really appreciate your blog! The difference between "sympathy" and "empathy". I always need the reminder. Thanks for sharing.