Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The thing about facebook, friends, and cancer

"Does she not know that I'm dying?"

Those words stung like daggers in my heart. Recently, a cancer warrior told me that her friend stopped being there for her, a friend who she leaned on for support at the very beginning of her journey. She stopped checking in on her, asking if she needed assistance with anything or seeing how she was doing.  As she put it, her friend just "forgot" about her. Despite physically distancing herself from her, Facebook allows for passive communication. Her friend would post status updates and the cancer warrior could see bits and pieces of her life. And vice versa. Her friend felt like going to a movie. The cancer warrior felt like she was hit by a bus. It sounds horrible knowing that sometimes life just gets in the way. And some people just don't know how to divide their time. Still, it makes me wonder, why wouldn't she be there for her during the lowest point of the cancer warrior's life? Doesn't the word "terminal" mean anything? With all the technology we have these days, isn't it so easy to just to send an email or a text to see how she's doing? My heart ached for the sadness she must have felt. She was dealing with the reality of her own mortality, and on top of that, the pain of knowing that someone she counted on seemingly stopped caring. I'm sure her friend does care and feels so much sympathy for what she's dealing with, but actions speak louder than words.

For so many people with cancer, social media can be a godsend. It's easy to update friends about their current condition, find support, and even raise funds to help them with their journey. On the other hand, logging onto Facebook can make them feel even more alone.

As I sit in the hospital room, where I've been since October 6, I admit I get envious of people living it up, going to parties, going on trips, trying new food or recipes, etc. Facebook reminds me of the things I am unable to do. It also reminds me of the friends that simply "forgot." My time is taken up by massaging my mom's arm and legs, and trying to make them less swollen (using a "lymphatic drainage" technique). Whenever she needs to turn over, we have to use the bed pad to help swing her body from one side to the other, while making sure the IVs and catheter don't get in the way. My mom is literally swaddled with about 8 pillows on the bed, propping this limb or making sure she stays in one position. Getting her to the bathroom takes at least 10-15 minutes, propping her up and bringing her to the bathroom, while she's still hooked up to the machine. She gets up in the middle of the night about 3-4 times, so me and my brother take turns being on duty. We try to get her to walk at least twice a day. We try to get her to eat. About 4-5 doctors stop in to check on her and update us on how she's doing. And in between, I try to get my work done. That is my life.

On Facebook, I see people complaining about trivial matters and I think, if only you were in my shoes. I see people use the word "cancer" as a horrible analogy or using it like it's a bad word, and I wish I could smack them. Like someone posting, "Your poor grammar is giving me cancer." Others post about relationship troubles and I think, if only that was the worse thing in my life right now. Most hurtful of all, I feel let down by the people I'm closest to when they seem to have time to post about a recent activity or adventure, but won't text or email me to see how I'm doing. It takes literally 10 seconds to say "I'm thinking of you."

Maybe I'm bitter. Ok, not maybe. I just am. And I struggle to wonder why this hurts me so much. In the grand scheme of things, I should not care about those who are not there for me, and just care about my mom. But I just wished that people who not are dealing with cancer would know how meaningful it can be when cancer warriors and caregivers really feel the love from others, rather than a half-hearted "let me know if you need anything." What's worse is when I actually reach out and I get no response.


5 comments:

  1. Gosh this post hits so so close to home. I feel the same way when people I thought were there for me who I knew for years and years, just pulled back. I couldn't have said it any better. I hate when people make promises to come over, or help you with something and then you never hear from them at all. It truly hurts and they don't realize how much that simple action of giving or helping would've mean the world to you.

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  2. Wow! I have a really great friend who is dealing with this right now as a caregiver to her mother and our other friend of years just doesn't understand the disappointment she causes when she promises that she will visit or help with minor things but posts things about boys disappointing her or going on a date but telling my other friend who needs her the most that oh I didn't have time or the kids are "sick" which is every single day of the week. Not even exaggerating. Unfortunately I'm over 500 miles away and wish I could be ther physically for my friend but she is always on my mind and I always wonder and ask how her and her mother are doing because I genuinely care about these two amazing women in my life. Thias other friend only lives 5mins away and can't take the time out. It frustrates me even so I don't think your feelings are bitter at all. I understand life gets in the way but this is when you all need close friends and fam to be there the most. Praying for you all throughout this difficult journey.

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  3. Thank you so much for posting this. It is comforting to hear that other people have those thoughts and feeling towards friends and loved ones. I have battled a lot of bitter feelings towards people who are complaining about comparatively trivial things. I find myself without a lot of patience to listen to people annoyed with relationships. It's almost like you try not to, but you end up saying in your head "your problems really aren't that important!"

    Anyhow, thank you for making me feel a little less alone in the caretaking process.

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  4. Admin, if not okay please remove!

    Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

    Thanks

    www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

    ReplyDelete
  5. Admin, if not okay please remove!

    Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to cancer.org, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.

    Thanks

    www.teespring.com/prostate-cancer-research

    ReplyDelete