Health and wellness touch everyone’s life differently. These are some people’s stories.
Illness can affect you in ways that others may not always be able to understand — no matter how close they are, and no matter how much you tell them about it. Only you know what’s going on within your own body. This can create strain on your friendships and relationships with coworkers and family members.
We reached out to our Living with Breast Cancer community on Facebook to get an understanding of the impact that breast cancer can have on a person’s ability to connect with other people — and to learn how our community has dealt with these new dynamics. We asked: How has cancer affected your social life?
These were the responses:
“It made me bankrupt, lose my job, gave me autoimmune diseases; but it also gave me more faith, weeded out relationships, and brought me close to my sons. It made me realize that sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until you have no choice.”
— Shawna F., living with breast cancer
“If you find at least one friend who actually understands how difficult this can be and can tolerate your moods and checks on you, cherish them. I have found these people are [very] rare.”
— Melissa T., living with breast cancer
“I’d have to say I’ve developed an antisocial demeanor. Not purposefully. After three years, everything, including keeping up with relationships, is exhausting. Mentally and physically.”
— Rosanna T., living with breast cancer
“When I first was diagnosed with cancer (before surgery and treatments) people seemed to shun me, avoid me. I can only believe they thought it was awkward or contagious, or something. Later, people helped me a lot, brought me meals at home after surgery, etc. I remember one dear friend who came by one day, after her own cancer treatments. At the time, I didn’t want anything to eat, and she asked if any food sounded good. I told her kiwi fruit, but none of the stores had any at that time. The next day she showed up at my door with a whole bag full of kiwi fruit. I was so touched. She lost her battle with cancer, but I have been fortunate — seven years out now — and cancer free. Socially, I had to learn to tell people I needed a nap, or I just didn’t have energy to do some things, but most everybody [understands]. I had cancer in my late twenties, and this last battle was worse, in my sixties. I’m still here and happy to wake up each day and celebrate life. For anyone who thinks mammograms hurt, try chemo. Go get checked out.”
— Mary M., living with breast cancer
“It hasn’t changed me socially, I’ve just become more introspective and thankful. The long-term effects of lymphedema and neuropathy suck, though. But happy to be alive.”
— Jackie K., living with breast cancer
“I’m more thoughtful of others who are or have gone through it. I think. I am more introspective in a lot of ways. I continued to do my artwork all through my treatments and continue today. I think that has helped keep me plugged into people with [the] same interests. I try not to think about it now, but of course, that little niggling thought is always there — will it come back? I value every day more than ever. His mercies are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.”
— Wanda B., living with breast cancer
“Less tolerance for drama, stupidity, and arrogance!”
— Leta D., living with breast cancer
“I don’t feel like I can make plans because I never know how I’ll feel from one day to the next.”
— Marsha R., living with breast cancer
“Most of my friends have stopped calling or texting. No more cards or offers of help. My treatment is still at least until April, and everyone moved on after week 2 or 3.”
— Chandy C., living with breast cancer
“Well, I actually lost some old friends and made new ones. I started standing up for myself because I went through all the pain and suffering of this breast cancer surgery and treatment plan, for me to be mistreated?? I don’t think so! So I changed pretty quickly. Users are not happy with you when you’re sick. You can’t do anything for them. However, the realest people are there for you, helping you. So that’s what happened with my social life. I also prayed for God to send me a good companion who would help me and have compassion for me and He did that. I’m so thankful for that!”
— Tammy S., living with breast cancer