I find it disgusting that there are people in this world who care about themselves more than anybody else. I hear it far too often in my different cancer networks – friends or family members lashing out at the person who has the disease. They selfishly make something out of nothing and get mad at the person because they are not listening to “their feelings”. What these idiots tend to forget is just how sick we are. Now you probably can’t imagine what it is like to be in our shoes, so picture this – If your parent passed away, would you welcome nonsense arguements into your life? Could you even imagine in that initial week a friend sitting you down and saying, “I’m mad at you for this, that and the other and you need to listen to my feelings.” Yep – just as ridiculous as that sounds it happens in the cancer world ALL THE TIME. You may be thinking – but Jamie, you didn’t get diagnosed this week, it has been almost two years. True. But two years for a stage 4 cancer patient is like 2 minutes. I still have cancer living in me. It is still eating away at my organs. I still have a short life expectancy. I still have to endure endless abouts of chemotherapy and surgeries and scans.
I am heading into another hard summer having to undergo and then recover from two major surgeries. The last thing I need in my life right now is any sort of stress or drama. So that is why it should be of no surprise, that when something insignificant comes to my attention, I am quick to respond with “What is the point of this? There are bigger things in life to worry about. Let’s just move past it.” This is when people show their true colours.
“Well these are MY feelings. Why do you not want to listen what I have to say? You are a bad friend.”
Excuse me? Because I do not want to entertain something that was already put to bed long ago I am the one in the wrong? Are you fucking kidding me?
Now, let me be clear – cancer is not a “get out of jail free” card. If someone you know who has cancer does something to upset you, speak to them about it if you really feel strongly about the matter. But before you take that step, really look at the situation. Does this really matter? Out of everything in your life – is this something to really focus on or be upset about?
If you are truly upset then approach it something like this, “I am upset because of ______ . I will be over it tomorrow but in this moment today I am upset. Do not stress this won’t affect our friendship, but I needed to be honest with you.” That is a calm approach and you are letting the person know it is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but you just wanted to bring it to their attention. In that moment I am sure the person will want to talk it out.
What I think is hard is that cancer is not always a quick disease that leads to death. It lingers and builds over time. So it is easy for others to not forget completely, but maybe forget about just how horrible the reality of the situation is. I never forget. I am reminded every day just how shitty this is. I may not talk about it, I may laugh and act positive – but deep inside I am truly sad. My life expectancy changes with every scan. I live 3 months at a time. Do you know what that feels like? I hope you don’t and never do.
Your life matters to me. Your feelings and thoughts matter to me. But for once maybe stop thinking about your own feelings. I’ll trade you. I would much rather be upset over a small bump in the road than have my midsection cut open.