One thing you can count on becoming clear about when your diagnosed with cancer is who is there for you and who is not. Who’s got your back and who hasn’t. You also get to see who is who in your support network. Your support network is who you rely on to support you in all the different aspects of your life, whether it be personal or work related. This is made up of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, advisors, etc and the many people who were on my own list prior to cancer hadn’t changed much over the past few years.
Before Cancer I was a self-proclaimed work addict and social butterfly, I was used to being out of my house majority of the day- I admit, I rarely had a day off- but I always prided myself on being there for the members of my support network when needed- I would drop everything at a hat to be there and cater for their needs- whether it be advice, lifts, financial help, general company, an impromptu night out on the lash- you name it- I was there. I would have moved heaven and earth for any one of them, never asking for anything in return. Just knowing they had my back and wouldn’t desert me when I needed them the most. I needed them more than ever in the early days of my diagnosis, so when they asked me that same question, although I didn’t want to show my vulnerability as I was usually the one helping others not the other way round, I had to be honest “I just don’t want to do this alone”. I’m not sure if that request sat right with certain people or not but what was to reveal itself about my so-called support network over the course of my diagnosis was a huge eye-opener for me. Some members completely blanked me and didn’t contact me at all, some distanced themselves from me once I revealed my illness and what my outlook was, some just got on with normal life and treated my illness like it was a day to day occurrence and yes these were people that I’ve either called my mentors, father figures, family away from family, holiday buddies- most importantly friends- where were they? and what the hell had I done to warrant such treatment? It’s amazing when you can’t drink, socialise or GIVE anymore how many friends, acquaintances you lose. There were even 3 guys I was talking to around the time I got my diagnosis wanting to meet up, go for dinner and spend time with me- as soon as they found out my news I didn’t from them. I wasn’t totally surprised because none of them were worthy of my time anyway but that wasn’t the piont was Cancer really that anti-social?
I spent a lot of time making excuses for certain individuals just in case they called or came back “maybe they feel uncomfortable? maybe they are scared?” but I had to come to the harsh realisations that none of this matters when you haven’t bothered to see how that person is doing after they have had an operation or going through a set of scans to see if thier cancer had spread or even started chemo. It took me a while to stomach it all, it was also an unnecessary added stress and upset I didn’t need whilst going through my treatment – but I came to the conclusion that apart from the fact I have a list of people I would never speak to again (simply because if your not there for me during the toughest parts of my life why should you be there for the good?) forgiveness for these individuals was the only way forward. I forgave these people for being ignorant enough to behave this way towards me and by forgiveness I don’t mean face to face, that isn’t necessary- I forgave them in my heart and mind because i’ve come to know that their behaviour and treatment towards me was more of a reflection of themselves rather than me. They showed themselves up.
On a positive note out of my horrific ordeal, my new support network blossomed. I now call everyone who’s a part of that- my “Magic Circle” and the renewal and cleanse of this has been one of the many amazing gifts and self-transformations of my cancer journey. Remember when you were always advised that you can count the number of friends you have on one hand? Well, that’s me. Apart from some amazing family members who remind me every day why family are family. I have some amazing people I know I can count on day to day- new editions to my own made up modern day family- they checked in when no one else did, would drop everything at a hat to assist me, stayed with me during the times I was having anxiety and panic attacks due to shock, went out of their way to do things to make me smile- take me for dinners, paid for me to do my nails, popped round with fruit, sent flowers and gifts- went out thier way, didn’t try and fit me in around thier schedule of convenience.
“Sorry I haven’t checked in on you Leanne I’ve just been busy”- I still laugh at that one. LOL…. a word of advice… don’t EVER say that to anyone who is going through a life-threatening illness.
Featured Pics: A selection of comforting quotes that helped me.