Cancer is a strange condition to find yourself in. I have written about this before. ┬áPeople react as if you are dead already. They are then quick to tell you about their aunt’s best friend from high school who was given two months and lived for twenty years.

11.5 million people died from cancer worldwide in 2009. The aunt’s best friend is an anomaly. Doctors are generally accurate with their numbers. Some jump the gun and give you numbers that they should have held off giving. Overall, though, most seem reticent to give out definite number.

New drugs, a new understanding of how people react to drugs, the relationship between mind and body, has made giving numbers a dangerous affair. My oncologist does not like giving out any definite numbers. It sets false expectations. Telling someone that they have ten years to live is just as bad as telling us that we ave three months. Both set expectation that may not be met.

The major question of this post, is why do some people abandon you so totally. This is not a judgment against anybody. Life goes on and we seem to run out of time for everything, sometimes including sleep.

Some people come through in unexpected ways. Others stop communicating with you entirely. Some say that they do not know how to react. They better figure it out quickly. The projections for the number of people who are going to get cancer in the next few years are staggering. Anywhere from 25% to 50% of the population, the numbers say. Whichever number is real, the numbers are still a bit shocking. People better figure out how to deal with cancer patients.

Cancer patients also better figure things out for themselves. How do we deal with others? What expectations do we have? Are we going to be open about our condition? Or hide behind a curtain somewhere? The more open we are, the more likely people are to react in a positive manner.

I heard from one person who said she got me a card when I was in hospital, but never sent it. That is fine. That was seven months ago. What about the time in between? No communication of any kind is hard to fathom.

Others are carried away with their own life and issues. That is certainly valid. But surely a phone call or eMail once a month is not out of the realm of possibility. The longer we fail to communicate the harder it gets. We start feeling utility about not being in touch. That is a vicious wheel to start and very hard to get out of.

Anyone with a chronic condition needs the support and assistance of their friends. People respond to needs according to their own capabilities. Some cook, some phone, eMail, comment on the blog, come over for a cuppa at their discretion for a chat. All are valuable and have merit. All are appreciated, not just by me, but all chronic patients. Even those who withdraw from society.

In some ways, I wonder if those who withdraw need even more attention from the rest of us. People sometimes feel intense guilt and shame at their condition. The eternal questions, why? What did I do to get cancer? How could I have avoided it? Questions without answers. We ask them and feel powerless at not having an answer. The guilt sets in and expands. We go bald. My mother bought a wig as so many do.

We have to dispel the guilt. We have to spend time with chronic patients and make them feel that there is nothing wrong with them. At some point, the chronic patient will have to return to their lives. How much easier that would be if people had stayed in touch with them through their journey.

We do not know enough about cancer to know where it comes from or what triggers the cells. Some are preventable through early diagnosis, others not. Some appear to be caused by viruses, others not. There are so many strains and varieties, that there is no single solution for all. Even chemo is a crap-shoot at the best of times. We will try this combination and monitor what happens. We will try different combination’s until one of them works. This is not a diss against doctors. We are discovering that people react differently to the same set of drugs. And so we monitor.

There should be no guilt in getting cancer, or any other chronic condition. It is not a punishment. It does create a journey through which we travel.

Keep in touch.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha