Why Did You Leave When I Said I Have Cancer

In Breast Cancer, Creating Happiness, Recent Posts by Barbara Jacoby

I am not sure what is happening but lately I have heard so many people sharing that when they were told that they had cancer and shared the information with family and friends, those who they thought they could count on for help and support just disappeared. I can’t begin to comprehend why someone would ever do something like this. When a person receives a diagnosis like this, the first that they want to do is turn to the comfort and love of those with whom they are the closest. Such devastating news is so difficult to receive and if you must do so, the last thing you want to do is face it alone. I am so fortunate that I had someone who stood by me every step of my journey and can’t even begin to imagine what it would have been like for me if he had abandoned me. So I think that this issue needs a little further discussion in order to understand why someone with whom you are so close would desert you in your time of greatest need.

Perhaps some day you might find out why someone disappeared upon hearing your cancer diagnosis and you will have the opportunity to forgive their actions or not.Barbara Jacoby

Of course, there sometimes are those people in our lives who we believe are as loving and caring toward us as we are to them. But, at times when we need them the most, they seem to disappear. They are what we call “users” who are there just to use us for whatever benefits they can get from us. As long as they are deriving benefits from their relationships with us, they are happy. But, when and if the time comes that we need them to give to us, they are not capable of doing so and do not want to do so and as a result they move on to someone else who can provide for them what they got from us. They are quite capable of rationalizing their behavior to those who will listen, but the bottom line is that they are really heartless and they are truly the last people that we need in our lives at this most critical time. And although it might be hard to understand why they left, it isn’t because of anything that we have done and we will ultimately realize that we truly are better off without them.

Then there are those who run because they are scared on so many levels. The word “cancer” can create a fear in the hearts of just about any person that we know. Therefore, when we share our diagnosis with those with whom we are closest, they run because they don’t know what to do, they fear they will do the wrong thing, they don’t want to disappoint you if they fall short in your expectations, they don’t believe in themselves enough to think they can do the job and/or they are completely paralyzed by the news. And what I think is the number one reason that most disappear is that they are afraid that you will die and they don’t want to be around to see that happen. They find that it is easier to walk away than to watch whatever they perceive is about to occur. And even if guilt goes with them on that departure, that is preferable than being a failure in either your eyes or their own eyes.

So, if someone leaves you after you share a cancer diagnosis, you have a couple of choices to make. You can be angry and bitter and spend a lot of your good energy on being disappointed and sad about the choice that they made. Or you can focus on yourself, your journey and on finding others who can and want to be there to help you and give your energy to doing all of the positive things necessary to deal with your own health situation. And you never know whether that person or those people who ran just might not get their own act together and come back into your life when they have had a chance to assess the reality of the situation. After all, if they truly loved you and cared about you, they will feel the loss as much or maybe even more than you and work to find a way back to you. And if not, you really don’t want or need them in your life anyway.

None of us can ever know what another person is thinking or the real reason that they may make certain decisions. Therefore, although it may be hard at the time, it will be best all the way around if you don’t judge another person’s actions. Perhaps some day you might find out why someone disappeared upon hearing your cancer diagnosis and you will have the opportunity to forgive their actions or not. And should you never know, if you hold in your heart that you can’t know why they did what they did, you will have no basis for thinking or believing anything other than they did the best that they could under the circumstances and you will feel free to let them go and move on yourself. That will be the best way to heal everything.