Community can Help

Facing the world together.
Facing the world together.

Originally published by Cancer Spot, a new app-based cancer support community, on their blog.

 

QUESTION: Everyone is always going on and on about the cancer community and how supportive it is. I’m not really involved right now, but is it something I should look in to? – AM I A MEMBER?

Dear Member #1,

I’ll be honest, I didn’t take advantage of the community while I was going through chemo. The counselors with my oncology department told me about various camps and programs. My mother attended several support groups. I could have reached out and spoken to people like me if I had wanted to.

But I didn’t. I didn’t want to be part of the cancer community. I didn’t want to sit around talking about why chemo sucks and which drugs suck more or less. I wanted to go back to class. I wanted to talk to my friends about the costume party on Friday or the pet rabbit that we had adopted. I wanted my life to be as normal as possible.

Thankfully that worked for me. I had an extremely supportive family, friend group, administration, and treatment team. Everyone did everything they could to make sure my life was as normal as it could be, as I wanted it to be.

But not everyone is that lucky. Most people need to talk about how cancer sucks and know that they’re not alone.  Especially when you’re isolated in your house because you’re immunosuppressed, you may need someone to reach out to who can talk you through things. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog.

The internet is an amazing place. Over the last couple of years there has been a huge proliferation of people reaching out to talk about their cancer and support others going through the same thing. Some websites offer advice on financing your healthcare treatment. Some offer medical advice and specifics about various medications. And some, like Cancer Spot, offer a place to talk, to meet people, to hear about what other people are experiencing and know that you’re not alone.

Even though it’s taken me this long, I’m an active part of the community now. It’s a wonderful group of people whose sole purpose is to help YOU in whatever way you need. If that means you don’t take advantage now, that’s okay. You’re welcome to come after treatment, in 5 years, in 10 years, whenever you’re ready. I’ll see you there.

 

How have you taken advantage of the online cancer community? What support resources can you recommend?

 

Have a question of your own? Ask Chemo between Classes through the Question Submission Form or by emailing chemobetweenclasses@gmail.com . You can get new posts by subscribing via email in the lower right hand corner, liking me on Facebook, or following me on Twitter!

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Cancer Shouldn’t Get You Dumped

Relationships don't stop because you have cancer.
Relationships don’t stop because you have cancer.

QUESTION: I’ve just been diagnosed with cancer and I’m terrified about telling my friends. I don’t know how they’ll react. Particularly my boyfriend – what if he dumps me? He’s my first real boyfriend, so I don’t really know what to do.  – DON’T WANT TO BE DUMPED

 

Dear Don’t Want to be Dumped,

That is a perfectly reasonable thing to be worried about. People react in a lot of different ways when their friends get cancer. Some of them are awesome and keep you sane; others drift away. The trick is to find out who is who quickly, so you can focus on them and not worry about the others.

I was scared of the same thing when I was diagnosed, but my boyfriend at the time, Nate, was really sweet about it. It took him a couple of minutes to process, but then he stayed by my side and supported me through the whole thing. I dragged him out of choir practice to go to the salon with me when I decided to shave my head. He visited me in the hospital. He continued to find me sexy, even when I was bald. He thought wearing different wigs on different days was hilarious… but I made sure to wear his favorite blond one when we were going out on a date.

We eventually did break up, but it had nothing to do with the cancer. We had been together for a year and a half, had grown apart, and both of us were ready to move on.

What would you do if he came to you and said he was sick? You would try to take care of him, right? I know he’s a guy, but give him some credit. You’re dating him for a reason. Or, alternatively, think about it this way: What kind of jerk dumps a girl when she’s just received such horrible news? Why would you want to be dating him anyway?

 

How did your significant other react when you were diagnosed? Were there any reactions that really surprised you?

 

Have a question of your own? Ask Chemo between Classes through the Question Submission Form or by emailing chemobetweenclasses@gmail.com . You can get new posts by subscribing via email in the lower right hand corner, liking me on Facebook, or following me on Twitter!