The other day I read a blog by fonzandcancer where he explained how a diagnosis of cancer not only impacts on the sufferer and family but also on friends and associates.
In short, he sets out that many ‘friends and associates’ simply fade out of the picture as they are at a loss how to inquire after the sufferer’s prognosis, treatment, and are unsure how to ask, ‘How are you going”. To be on the safe side, they conveniently disappear from the scene.
By coincidence, yesterday I attended a morning tea hosted by a young female friend who is in remission after successful surgery and chemotherapy arising from her diagnosis of cervical cancer.
My friend bravely, frankly and most competently addressed the thirty or so attendees with sometimes vivid descriptions of her journey.
Only once during her lengthy address did she falter momentarily, arising from reliving her life threatening experience. Swiftly recovering my friend outlined the support she received from her husband, two children, her in-laws, parents and friends.
Many members of the audience were her friends and I noticed that besides myself there was only one other of her male friends present.
We often read how men dislike talking about their health and it struck me that fonzandcancer’s experience is most probably an off shoot of our silence about our own health and translates into a reluctance to hear about other persons health outcomes.
I must be a strange one as when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in late 2014 and underwent radical surgery to remove the cancerous prostate I couldn’t restrain myself from telling everyone who would listen how lucky I was.
I was only hospitalised for three days, suffered very little post operative discomfort and almost zero post operative leakage.
The major downside was that my surgeon insisted that I refrain from riding my Harley.
With one male exception, only my female friends inquire after my postoperative health. The male exception is a cancer sufferer himself and we regularly exchange notes and have a laugh about the way others relate to our circumstances.
Almost eighteen months have passed since my surgery and I saw my surgeon last Wednesday. Fortunately he does not need to see me again and no further medical interventions are required so far. And, yes, I can get back on the Harley.
He has written to my GP setting out the occasional monitoring I’ll require for the next wait for it, next seventeen years.
As that will take me past the age of 93 I’m more than happy with that outcome.
Now that gives me another reason to tell all and sundry about my experience. No need though to bother you except to say, when a friend tells you of their cancer diagnosis, don’t just fade away, stick around and give all the moral support you can. It does make a difference.
Hoo roo for now.