- By Diana Sloan
To say everything changes with a cancer diagnosis is the understatement of the century. Of course, there is all the medical stuff, planning normal life around appointments, and just adjusting to feeling sick and worn out. Another aspect that changes dramatically is your relationships. They can be strengthened or fall apart. With people I am really close to, the biggest shift seems to be with what they share with me in their lives.
Let’s face it, many people just do not know what to say when they find out someone has cancer. And that, my friends, is perfectly fine. Now I don’t recommend telling your cancer stricken friend about your cousin’s best friend’s father who died of the same type of cancer. Do not be that guy, but do not be afraid to talk to your friend just like you used to about your problems. They are still valid, and trust me when I say cancer does not make your struggles less. They are just different.
If I had a dollar for every time I asked a friend or family member how they were, and they told me, “Things are tough, but I don’t want to bother you with this with everything you have going on,” I’d take a pretty amazing vacation. Look, I get it. You think I do not want to hear about your stuff because my stuff is pretty awful, but I assure you that is not how I feel. Could not be further from the truth in fact. Please, please tell me about all the things even if they are bad. I still care about you just like I did before cancer.
You are also doing me a favor by sharing your life’s trials with me. You are telling me, “You are still the person you always were, and cancer has not changed that.” Now don’t get me wrong. If you complain to me about how you couldn’t get a cup of coffee on your way to work this morning, I am going to probably roll my eyes a little. But in all honesty, I would have done that before cancer too.
Like I mentioned before, so many things change when you are diagnosed with cancer. Things fall apart, and your life is thrown into turmoil to a certain extent. One thing I don’t want to lose in the midst of this, are the true relationships with the people I love. I still want to be the person to comfort you, celebrate with you, and cry with you when necessary. Do not keep things from me to protect me, good or bad. Do not ever think that I do not want to know what is going on in your life. Cancer may have changed my body and my perspective about life and how to live it, but it did not change how I feel about you. I’m still me; and, every time you talk to me just like you used to, I know you still see your friend, Diana. Not Diana, the cancer patient.
Diana Sloan, a 2018 On The Rise featured survivor, is a stage IV colorectal cancer survivor and mother of 3 girls. She’s currently making memories in Texas with her husband and daughters while receiving treatment at MD Anderson.