But why does cancer make it lonelier? Nancy over at Nancy's Point blogged about the loneliness of metastatic breast cancer yesterday - which got me thinking (I'm sorry to say). She also mentioned a few other blogs I follow in her post.
I think cancer can be very isolating and lonely. First of all you feel like crap between surgeries, chemo, and radiation. Then you lose your hair and gain those chemo pounds which make you feel completely unlike a fashion plate and more like a bald, blob. You are reduced to baggy clothes because nothing fits right and some kind of head gear to hide baldness. Finally, it drags on and on and on and on and on and on as you go from doctor to doctor. I would think if you reach the metastatic stage it gets a never ending feel. But it can feel never ending as you plod through the ups and downs of early stage treatment too.
Also, then your 'friends' stop being friends because they might catch cancer cooties. And your Friends don't drop by as often because you are always feeling like crap and they don't want to drop in unexpectedly if you aren't feeling okay. Chemo has a way of making dining out a lot less fun as you fight nausea. You cant drop everything and run off to the beach, a museum, or Tahiti because you either are too tired, have a doctor's appointment, or need to change your chemo schedule. So you just aren't fun.
But I have learned over the years. At my first cancer diagnosis, I tried to talk about it to a few people and managed to lose a few friends in the process so I gave that up. I isolated myself in regards to my cancer. There are people who knew me for decades and didn't know about my cancer. In some ways I felt it wasn't there business but I also felt I couldn't talk to anyone about it.
With my second cancer diagnosis, I was a bit more open. I talk about it. I blog about it. I Facebook about it. One of my jobs doesn't know I have had cancer but the other one is full of cancer people. I talk to cancer people. I have decided not to let myself be lonely again. I may not scream it from the rooftops but it is part of my life and who I am.
If you have cancer, any kind and at any stage, there is no reason not to go on living and trying to go to the beach or run away to Tahiti. Or to not make plans for the next 20 years with friends and family. I have decided not to be lonely.
Cancer twice has caused me to re-evaluate my priorities. I spend less time and energy on things which aren't fun and with people who are toxic. I spend more time doing the things I enjoy with the people I enjoy. I relish the opportunities to be normal. I don't let myself get down into the 'poor me' mentality which is dangerously close to the cancer roller coaster from hell. I have decided not to let cancer make me lonely again.
While I don't have metastatic cancer, I think cancer twice has filled my life with lots of doctors who like to say 'with your medical history we need to be sure.' I make a point not to be lonely.