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Take a Well-Deserved Break (with a Friend)

Click here for the Cancer Friend Contract
contract

Reflections
Reflection 1
A cancer friend is someone who, when you hangout with them, makes you forget for just that moment about the cancer. | A cancer friend is someone who understands what you’re going through. | A cancer friend is someone you can confide in, no matter what. | A cancer friend is someone who helps you reflect positively on your cancer experience. | A cancer friend is someone who understands what you’re going through completely, even after treatment. | A cancer friend is someone you can talk to about any worries, related to cancer or not. | A cancer friend is Will, Josh, Hannah, Stephen, Jess. | A cancer friend is someone who you share brand new experiences with. | A cancer friend is someone who gives you a shoulder to cry on (literally) when things go bad. | A cancer friend is someone who influences your life, whether they’re still in it or not. | A cancer friend is not just a friend, but a member of your family. | A cancer friend is someone who gives you the confidence to be who you are. | A cancer friend is someone with whom you feel confident walking through central Birmingham in pink wigs! | A cancer friend is someone who has seen all your imperfections, yet sees past all of them.

 A cancer friend is someone who doesn’t necessarily live close to you, or who you don’t see them often, but you can always pick up where you’ve left off, like no time has passed. | A cancer friend to me is the best sort of friend to have, for the following reasons: No pressure to look/feel good, Nobody gets judged, Everyone is in the same boat, Its really easy to talk to other people affected by cancer | A cancer friend is a friend For Life | A cancer friend is important to me, more important than other friends because if something is wrong or they are feeling down it’s most likely more serious and important (as it could be life or death) than my other friends’ little dramas about boys, they also have a whole new level of understanding on a personal level about your illness and have a better idea of what to say to cheer you up. A cancer friend is someone who looks out for you no matter what, and that stays close to you when all your other friends grow apart.  

– All the patient participants

Reflection 2

When someone has cancer, there are people who turn out to be friends, and people who turn out not to be able to stay the course. And there is a huge disappointment with people who drop out from your life (people who you thought were very good friends who just couldn’t do it) as well as surprise, often, at those who do. As a patient, this process is about figuring out who has the capacity to take this on. There is a sense, with a Cancer Friend, that they have the ability to tolerate the enormity of cancer and the ability not to be horrified.

One of the things that can happen because of the pervasive ’Be Positive Be Positive Be Positive’ attitude around cancer is that it can become almost punitive. Insisting the patient always be positive can prevent anyone from ever talking about 

what’s really happening, or allow a friend to say how bloody awful is it that this cancer is happening. Often the push for positivity at any cost may not be about the patient, but about society’s inability to tolerate the enormity of what’s actually happening to another human being.

Teenagers as friends may have more of a capacity for tolerating or engaging with this kind of enormity, as they are still thinking about  what really matters in life. Many adults have already got to the point where they no longer explore and question as they know what they believe in, whereas for young adults, everything matters to them. Everything matters. So it may be that teenagers have more of a capacity to engage.

– Sue