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someone looking for friends while they hide behind cardboard cut-outs of things

Where Did Everyone Go?

“Poof”…they are gone.

Have you noticed the disappearance of friends or family? Maybe they haven’t completely left, but you don’t see them or talk to them as much. This is something I have seen a lot of my cancer community peers talk about. How people have just disappeared since their diagnosis. I too have unfortunately experienced this. It is hard and I try to look at maybe they don’t want to lose you or it is hard on them and they don’t know what to say or do.

We need them more now than ever. We need as much “old normal” as possible in our new normal world. Their laughs, touch, or just their voice on the other end of the phone.

Maybe they don’t know what to do. Maybe they feel they cannot fix it, or they feel helpless. Maybe they feel scared too. We have to be compassionate to them the same as we want their support.

I’m not contagious

Cancer isn’t contagious, you will not catch it! Come see me. I understand it is hard for everyone. I want you to talk to me. Let me know what you are feeling. Let me know your fears.

I was surfing the internet on this subject and came across a site on this subject and was reading it. I want to learn how to be more compassionate about their feelings. I want the closeness of their love back. So I will do whatever I can to make them feel comfortable around me.

Researching to help me understand

Below are some suggestions I found on what to say and what not to say. This is something that everyone may find helpful.

“Choose your words carefully. Make sure to acknowledge how difficult this experience is for the person. Carefully choosing what you say can help you show your support without being dismissive or avoiding the topic. For example, it is better to say, ‘I don’t know what to say’ than to stop calling or visiting out of fear.”1

Ways to show support

These are some things you can say to show care and support to a loved one:1

  • I’m sorry this has happened to you.
  • If you ever feel like talking, I’m here to listen.
  • What are you thinking of doing, and how can I help?
  • I care about you.
  • I’m thinking about you.

What to avoid saying…

Here are examples of phrases that are unhelpful:1

  • I know just how you feel.
  • I know just what you should do.
  • I know someone who had the exact same diagnosis.
  • I’m sure you’ll be fine.
  • Don’t worry.
  • How long do you have?”

It’s okay to not know what to say

I have had every one of the unhelpful things said to me multiple times. Maybe if the ones that are shying away from us knew some of the okay things to say they would feel more at ease. I try to not let it bother me if the “wrong” thing is said. What would I say if I was in their situation? I would be at a loss.

I know it can feel like you are blundering around in the darkness. Let’s talk so we all feel at ease.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Talking With Someone Who Has Cancer. Accessed October 2019.


  • Terrykloppenburg
    1 month ago

    This is a very true and sad article… I have lost many people in my life since my diagnoses..
    What I don’t understand is… We have connected and more less discussed it. And they said they would be here for me. I figured after over a month I’m not hearing from them, they obviously don’t give a darn. And that in itself has left me feel empty, and even more confused, then my confusion!

  • Yolanda Brunson-Sarrabo moderator
    1 month ago

    It’s unfortunate that some people cannot handle news of a diagnosis, so they tend to avoid or move on with their own lives. It’s quite unfortunate but as Sandy mentioned you have a support team here in this network if you need us.

  • Sandy Spears moderator author
    1 month ago

    It does leave you confused and empty. Thankfully we have a great lung cancer community. We are here for you! Best, Sandy

  • mrsfjel70
    3 weeks ago

    I feel for you, Sandy. Lost a friend ( sister with another mother)) of near 40 years who felt I was not as attentive to her as I should have been during my six weeks of radiation and chemo. It our case, she needed to be supported and coddled and I was just too exhausted to provide what she needed. As such, when all was said and done and a few days before my CT scan and start of immunotherapy, she cancelled our friendship. As in forever.very hard. You never completely recover, Altho with time and help your head knows it’s for the best.

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