I can't honestly say that I had any friends, family or acquaintances abandon me or keep their distance after my AN diagnosis. Frankly, the symptoms, diagnosis and surgery all happened with in a fairly short period of time. Within a few months I was pretty much back to normal. I had a lot of folks I knew inquire about my health ("how are you?
") but no one noticeably withdrew from me. If they did, they weren't very close anyway, because I never noticed their absence.
I know it's true that some people, be it family, friends or co-workers, will withdraw somewhat when you have an illness. Cancer tends to scare off a lot of people. I've seen that happen more than once. It's sad but not too hard to understand. Most people are very frightened of just the word 'cancer'
as it affects just about everyone on some level. It seems everyone
who died of cancer. As you stated, in these situations, some people just don't know what to say. They are a bit ashamed at being nervous around the ill person and sometimes will (unwittingly) say stupid and/or hurtful things. I think some folks just want to avoid doing that, don't have a clue as to what
to say (especially to an obviously terminally-ill person) and so, pretend this isn't happening. I think guys have an especially hard time dealing with this as we are not usually comfortable expressing our emotions to another guy and so, just don't know what to say or do. Pretending nothing is wrong is ridiculous (but some do this) and yet talking about a friend's facial paralysis or, worse yet, imminent death is hardly the way most guys wish to spend the afternoon.
I've been around long enough to have learned that I can't (and don't) allow other people's opinions or actions to control my
life or my
actions. I do what I do the way I think is best. If friends or family choose to abandon me, ignore me or even say hurtful things to me I can't stop them but I don't have to let their words or actions have much effect on me. I like approval as much as the next person but I won't pretend to be something I'm not in order to get it. If an illness drives some people away, that is their choice. However, I don't have to allow their withdrawal to depress me, and I never have. Actually, I figured that out while I was still fairly young. I think most sensible people do. Jim