Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Et Tu, Cancer? Part 3 - The Shunning

"Don't surprised if people shun you. Family and/or friends."
"You're kidding, right?"
"I wish I were."
"That seems so wrong."
"Well, yeah."

That conversation I had with a friend shortly after being diagnosed with bladder cancer turned out to by prophetic. Shunning, or stigma, happened to me, with a few people, but it was sudden and shocking nonetheless. It was also painful and stressful and depressing and heaped upon a plate that was already overflowing. I have cancer, dammit, and it's not contagious! Yet, they simply disappeared, almost overnight.

It was also a cliché of sorts. I was surprised by who wound up going the shun route and equally surprised who stepped up to the plate to offer all sorts of help or encouragement. I am writing this to tell all fellow cancer patients that the sooner you forget about being shunned and who is shunning you and move on, the better it will be for you. Way better. People will shun you regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, political beliefs, religious or non-religious affiliations. It cuts across everything and at first it will cut you deeply.

But, you have to move on. You already have enough stress, et al, in your life and you need to forget about these people and how they are acting. It's not worth it for either your short term or long term health and recovery. You can't spend your time worrying about why you are being shunned because it will be for a variety of reasons both comprehensible and incomprehensible. They don't know how to behave around you, they don't know what to say, they don't know what to do, they are afraid of you, they are afraid of their own immortality and on and on and on. You can't afford to go scurrying around that rabbit hole when your health and recovery need to be your top priority.

Look, I know it seems harsh and it wasn't easy for me by no means. I'm talking about relationships that can be months and even decades old. But, once I made the decision, I didn't look back. And neither should you. Get on with your life, get healthy. That's all I'm trying to say.

(Abra the cat; 100% guaranteed not to shun.)


1 comment:

SylphStHelens said...

Support is all I have to offer and you can have all you want or need.