When I was younger I was told “When you leave school, you’ll lose touch with people you thought you’d be friends with forever”. No one told me the same thing would happen with a cancer diagnosis.
Before cancer I used to go out all the time, but when I got diagnosed almost everyone backed off. Eventually I stopped getting invited to places because my response was always “I have an appointment that day”. It’s not that I didn’t want to go out, I feel like I’ve missed so many things because I’ve been too sick or tired or both. My friends just didn’t understand that I wanted to take part, I just literally couldn’t, so they took it personally and moved on.
At first I was torn between “it’s not their fault, I should make more of an effort” and “No one understands, they don’t think I’m worth it so why should I bother trying?” I had such a hard time trying to second guess who my real friends were until someone I know said “let me know when you’re feeling a bit better and we’ll meet up”. That one comment changed everything for me. I realised that there was a middle ground; I did need to make more of an effort but only for the people who are willing to make the same effort and wait for me.
I lost a lot of friends because of that attitude but I know that in the long run, I would have lost them anyway. Looking back I realise that I should never have expected them to understand, we were all around 14 years old and we had no idea what to expect. I don’t imagine for one second that the people who are still around now understand what it’s like (and I hope they never do) but they accept it and I am so grateful for that.