Being diagnosed with cancer turns people’s lives upside down, and dealing with potential cancer ghosting or losing friends while battling cancer is something no one expects. It can be a frightening and often isolating diagnosis to live with, from anxiety about what the future may hold to the grim day-to-day realities of being ill and going through treatment. At the very least, most of us would expect our friends and family to rally around us and offer support during such a difficult time. But what exactly is cancer ghosting?
65% of cancer survivors polled by the war on cancer reported being ghosted by friends or family members after their diagnosis.
Abandoning a Friend in Need
Yes, you read that correctly! Ignoring texts, not returning phone calls, and putting a sudden, unexplained distance between yourself and another person is referred to as “ghosting,” and it’s no longer reserved for bad Tinder hookups.
Our society’s constant contact has its advantages but also makes it painfully obvious when someone is avoiding you. Has anyone ever opened your Instagram story about treatment or heart reacted to a selfie you posted six months ago but hasn’t responded to the DM you sent days ago? Ouch. Even if your friend’s silence is motivated by a desire to avoid saying something stupid, it still hurts. (Source: UVA Health)
Why is Cancer Ghosting Even a Thing?
Even if your friends are present while you are dealing with cancer diagnosis and treatment, you may wonder why they appear disengaged. There are several reasons for this departure. It varies, but your friends may be unable to cope with their helplessness and feel guilty that they cannot cure or comfort you.
Survivor guilt, or even relief that it did not happen to them, can also interfere. Your friends may either want to avoid the subject of cancer entirely and carry on as if nothing is wrong, or they may only want to talk about their feelings about your cancer. You are more than your cancer diagnosis. It is a significant part of your life right now that cannot be ignored. (Source: UVA Health)
Cutting Ties with Friends and Family
Your friends’ hand-holding can go a long way toward convincing them to treat you as if you were their person while still supporting you. It’s also important to know when to let go of a relationship. If you’ve been wasting time and energy trying to bring a friend into your life with little success, it’s time to take a deep breath and let it go.
Don’t feel bad if you’re thinking about cutting someone out if he or she isn’t willing to make accommodations for your treatment or is ignoring your calls and texts. During this frightening time, you cannot be your friend’s therapist, and it is not your responsibility to teach him or her how to be a good friend.
Friendship should bring you joy, laughter, and support. While things do not always go as planned, embrace the people who rally around you during this difficult time. (Source: UVA Health)
Image from HealthLine