Hello, I really feel like I need to talk..
I have had Stage 1 BC - had mastectomy, ovary removal surgery and am on ongoing hormonal treatment.
It has been a difficult 18 months, but I am going okay. I also have a long history of anxiety/depressed. I desperately need to commit to losing weight, exercising and living a healthier life. I have been making some positive changes, but when things go wrong I find it hard not to comfort eat and then also ditch my exercise schedule. This past week, I have fallen into a heap.
A few weeks ago, I was shocked when a very healthy, marathon running close friend of mine was diagnosed with a very serious and aggressive cancer (not breast cancer). Although I do not know the exact stage, I do know that it is quite advanced and perhaps even Stage IV. My friend has not shared all the details with me and I respect that. I kept my own cancer journey very very private. My friend is also private.
It's early days yet, but I think I am doing an okay job of supporting my friend. I have been spending lots of time with her - sharing trashy magazines and watching bad reality TV shows.. this seems to be what she wants and needs from me right now.
Here's where I am failing and trying to balance the responsibilities of being a good friend and supporter with taking care of my own physical and mental health.
My friend is divorced, no kids. She has one sister and her own parents are deceased.
I seem to have become the person everyone in our wider circle contacts when they want an update of her health, treatment, prognosis etc.
Though we both now live in the city, we are both from the same small town where everyone knows everyone else's business. It's one thing to let people know she is dealing with this illness, has surgery scheduled etc. I am, of course, happy to be the contact person re this. But it's another thing to have to deal with people asking the extent of her disease spread, her exact treatment plan and her prognosis. I have tried to be vague, but some people are quite insistent. I find it quite distressing.
And then there is my elderly mother... who rings me in each night in an increasing state of panic about my friend (whom she has known since she was a little girl) ... she seems to want me to tell her everything will be okay, but I can't.. I have told her the initial surgery went really well (it did) my friend is in good spirits (she is) but that she has a lot of treatment ahead of her... But my mother keeps pushing WHERE has it spread... HOW MUCH is the spread..etc etc
I am ashamed to say I disconnected my phone last night so I could avoid another phone call ... I just can't deal with it..
I have re-read this post and I know it sounds like I am making my friend's diagnosis into being all about me! Please know that I am not.
I am really really struggling with this...
How to I balance my own fear and sadness with my responsibilities here?
How do I ensure I have the strength to keep looking after myself psychically and mentally in the face of what I suspect is going to be a really difficult road?
Does anyone have any suggested polite lines or tools I can use when people are being overtly nosy?
I know that it comes from a caring and good place generally speaking, but I don't understand to know why people feel they have a right to know all the ins and outs of someone else's illness and prognosis.
I still can't believe this is all happening :(
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