The Cancer Card
Last updated: September 2023
So, a couple of my friends have recently been diagnosed with cancer, and who do they call? Not Ghostbusters, but me.
Supporting friends who also have cancer
While I understand the importance of having a friend to lean on during this challenging time, dealing with a new cancer diagnosis, I also knew I needed to take care of myself.
I've tried to explain this to my friends, but they seem too overwhelmed to understand. I feel like they have basically asked me to prioritize their cancer and put my own experience with cancer on hold.
Dealing with the balancing act
Despite feeling conflicted, I can't abandon my friends. So, what should I do? I balance myself as if on a balancing beam, and I support my friends regardless of how crappy I feel.
Playing the "cancer card"
Deep down inside, I wanted to play the "cancer card" and tell them, "Hell, I have cancer too. The kind that doesn't go into remission. The kind that people die from. The kind that sneaks in like a thief at night, stealing your entire life." But I just didn't have the heart to express my inner thoughts to my friends.
I'm praying they don't push my buttons or trigger me. If that happens, I will express myself like a broken dam(n).
But for now, just for now, I listen to my friends' fears and concerns, and I try my best to reassure them that they will be just fine.
I advocated for cancer patients and their families to help others going through similar struggles. I know all too well firsthand how important it is to have someone who understands what you're going through and can provide support and encouragement.
My friend who went into remission
A girlfriend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 years ago, and I have been her biggest supporter. Her cancer went into remission, and she returned to her "regular programming," a.k.a. her life. She began to live her life like it was golden; well, at least to her, it was.
Once she began to live her life again, I barely heard from her. While that wasn't a problem because I craved a much-needed break, I wondered why she got a second chance while I was still holding the terminal cancer bag.
Should I share my feelings?
I couldn't voice my feelings because it would seem like I was jealous or unhappy about her being in remission. Well, I was jealous, but I was also glad she was in remission. I just wanted a fresh start as well.
Cancer is hard, and while we all need a great support system, don't forget to take care of yourself first.
Recently, I received a call from a friend crying hysterically on the other end of the phone. She had just received news that her cancer had returned, and she was desperate for my support.
I was in shock. I know how devastating it is to hear news like that. But at the same time, I still struggle to deal with my own cancer life. I'm exhausted, and my immune system is weak.
Setting boundaries with friends
So, now I'm in the position once again of pondering whether I should prioritize her cancer over mine for the second time or if I should play the cancer card.
This time, I've chosen to prioritize my own health and to support my friend when my emotional bandwidth allows the space.
I've given her incredible resources and set boundaries on what my supporting her looks like. This way, we both win.
Sometimes, playing the cancer card isn't a bad thing.
Advanced breast cancer is an isolating and lonely disease.