Dealing with Friends with Cancer

Posted: November 30, 2019 in Psychology
Tags: , , ,

Over the last few years, three close, two of them really close, friends have died of cancer and another is in remission. Two of the three died of cancer spreading after undergoing the horror of prostate removal, which did no good whatsoever — it just made their suffering worse — and my other friend died a horrible death of pancreatic cancer. A fourth still-surviving friend is in remission from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. And still another very close, long-term friend is currently dealing with prostate cancer, which is not responding to radiation treatment.

They account for over two-thirds of my close male friends — all of them a few years younger than me. It’s heartbreaking, but they’re dead or dying.

So, how the hell do you deal with this? How can you be a decent person and support your friends while they’re suffering? And not go crazy yourself?

This is all purely personal, purely observational, but this is what I’ve concluded:

  • You can’t fix it. Admit it to yourself. Accept it.
  • Do not recommend “alternative” treatments — they’re “alternative” because they don’t work. In fact, unless you’re a medical/scientific professional, do not recommend anything — I guarantee that your cancer-suffering friends have already researched it.
  • Just be there.
  • Listen.
  • Treat them normally — not as someone to be pitied or helped. Do the most mutual, joint projects you can come up with.
  • Don’t withdraw. Continue as normal.
  • Help physically, when necessary, and try not to make it obvious you think they’re an invalid. (This pm, I went over to my bud J’s place and worked in his garden for an hour while he worked for 15 minutes — the important thing is that we both worked and I was there for him.)

Some people withdraw from friends who are dying from cancer, and that’s understandable. The reasons seem to be that the feeling of helplessness is overwhelming; the fear of personal mortality, and the reminder of it, which overwhelms decent behavior. . . . Either that or they’re empathy-empty sociopaths, like Tump, who only do favors when they anticipate return.

The lesson is that when your friends have cancer, don’t withdraw, don’t try to solve things, — and above all don’t leave them feeling all alone — just be there just listen to them. That’s all you can do; it’s not enough (nothing is). but they’ll appreciate it.





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