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.., to contact old friend who has cancer?

(40 Posts)
Gymbob Sun 09-Aug-15 16:16:05

purposely posting this here as I know how volatile this board can be and I want all perspectives regardless!

known said friend for over 35 years. she was always a very sensitive soul and at that time I had to negotiate carefully in order not to offend. I frequently did. once by not telling her first that a mutual friend had had a baby. another time by not asking quickly enough if she was feeling better after being sent home ill the day before. both these occasions resulted in a lengthy period of not speaking to me. this is just my old friend and it's the way she's always been. telling you just so you get a picture of character. we always got over it but our friendship waned due to maybe a bit of that but also cos of marriage break ups and kids, grandkids etc.

fast forward 25 years and told yesterday she has terminal cancer. I don't know what to do. text? ring? write? visit? or nothing?

we send the occasional text now just on birthdays and Xmas, but I never managed to get her new address. even her sons weren't privy to it for a couple of years after her divorce, they always met on neutral ground.

I'm worried she'll think I'm only contacting her as she is very ill and I'm not genuine or if I don't she'll think I didn't care after all.

I know you'll pull no punches on this board, so please tell me what to do sad
thanks in advance.

MadauntofA Sun 09-Aug-15 16:20:28

Hi, awful situation for your friend. Being told you have terminal cancer probably makes you look at life in a different way (I don't know but I imagine that is the case.) if you still have occasional contact by text, then I would contact her saying that you have heard, want to offer support etc. you will probably get some kind of response, but don't take it too personally if it is negatives- she may want to vent a bit but then may be back in contact at a later date. Contacting her is better than not.

Welshmaenad Sun 09-Aug-15 16:21:08

Maybe drop her a text, expressing sympathy and suggesting she get in touch if she'd like to meet?

I'll be honest though, when my mum was diagnosed terminal last year an old friend (who to be fair had dropped her with no explanation rather than waning as your friendship seems to have) appeared out of the blue when she was very tired and unwell.

Our family's attitude was, well, where the fuck was she when mum was well? It felt very much like grief tourism.

Only you know your true motives for getting in touch but be prepared that she may not respond.

Gymbob Sun 09-Aug-15 16:27:20

omg, grief tourism. I have never heard that phrase before shock that sums up exactly what I'm afraid of.

sorry about your mum thanks

letmehaveyoursoul Sun 09-Aug-15 16:27:33

it's better to say something than nothing - send her a text, ask her if she needs anything and leave the ball in her court.

letmehaveyoursoul Sun 09-Aug-15 16:30:27

ps- the grief tourists are v obvious and tend to be those who have never been close in my experience. I've had cancer, albeit not terminal and I know how people come out of the woodwork. however, I also think if you've been friends for that long you simply can't let someone die without getting in touch. some of the most solid friendships I have just drifted on, school, uni, relationships but when the shit got real, that's who was there for me.

simplesusan Sun 09-Aug-15 16:33:24

Definitely contact her .
Then drop by with something nice either cake, chocs or flowers.
She may be offhand or even rude, hell she has every right to be but least you have made the effort.

Welshmaenad Sun 09-Aug-15 16:35:51

I think it was just that there was no addressing of her disappearance, just lots of "oh it's so DREADFUL, MumofWelsh, so TRAGIC" and wanting to know all the gory details and asking if we were going to sue the GP who misdiagnosed.

A non intrusive text, just saying that you were genuinely saddened to hear her news and acknowledging that you had drifted but still consider her a friend and would like to offer support should she want it, is very different.

Cynara Sun 09-Aug-15 16:37:38

I think it's ok to get in touch, but only if you're prepared to really get involved and provide support if her response is to ask for it. I think from her point of view it would look like "grief tourism" as pp say if you popped back into her life, said how sorry you were about her illness, made vague offers of support and then didn't follow through.

Obviously, she may very well not want or ask for anything from you, but I think you should only make the gesture if you're genuinely able to deliver on it in the event that she does, iyswim?

HowDdo2You Sun 09-Aug-15 16:42:56

Make specific offers of help. This call me if you need help lark is all bullshit weather talk really otherwise.

MrsDeVere Sun 09-Aug-15 17:13:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lolimax Sun 09-Aug-15 17:20:40

I was really ill the beginning of the year. Luckily I'm making a good recovery. But what really hurt was the so-called friends I didn't hear from. Even a simple text would have done. So I think you should make contact, and leave the rest to her.

Gymbob Sun 09-Aug-15 17:22:13

MrsdeVere you have me crying in a very public place right now. I should have waited to read until I got home.

what a wonderful person you are, how selfless, and well just nice.

thank you so much for sharing that with us. and so sorry you lost your DD too thanks

drudgetrudy Sun 09-Aug-15 17:25:13

I have regretted the occasions when I have not contacted people for fear of being intrusive than the times I have made contact.
I would keep it simple-just say that you have heard that she's ill are very sorry about it, don't want to intrude if she's not feeling well but would love to see her if she's up for it.

hollieberrie Sun 09-Aug-15 17:26:41

I'd say definitely get in touch, you have nothing to lose.

Different situation but my friendships have changed dramatically since my mum died. People who at the time i considered great friends have all but disappeared and yet others, with whom the friendship had definitely drifted over the years, made a real effort and were so kind and we are now back to being close friends again. I was very touched by their kindness and am thrilled to have them back in my life.

Who knows how she'll react, but she may be really pleased to hear from you and the friendship could reignite into a lovely, close one.

You sound like a very kind and concerned friend, i hope it works out well for you.

hollieberrie Sun 09-Aug-15 17:31:18

Gosh so many posts where people had so called friends disappear on them when things got tough. It something that i found really shocking and hurtful. Why do people do that i wonder? Do you think its a British reserve thing where people just dont know what to say? I still struggle to understand it.

flowers for everyone who's had a hard time with this.

MrsDeVere Sun 09-Aug-15 17:32:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheTravellingLemon Sun 09-Aug-15 17:58:36

I had a close friend growing up and into my twenties. We fell out over something quite important - it can still make me cross if i think about all these years later.

Anyway, she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and I found myself in a similar predicament to you. We hadnt spoken for about 7 years.

In the end I decided to send her a short message saying that I had heard and that she didn't have to respond, but I was thinking of her.

She did respond though and over the next few weeks and months we managed to build back a little of our old friendship. Unfortunately the cancer was way too aggressive and she didn't live longer than a few months after her diagnosis.

I never got to see her again, which hurts and I weirdly miss her even though we'd not been in contact for such a long time. I'm pleased that we were able to chat in the end though.

She was annoyed at some of our old friends who turned up at the hospital or at her home because she really didn't feel able to cope with people. Because of the lateness of her diagnosis there was no period of time where she felt ok IYSWIM. She went straight from diagnosis to a lengthy stay in hospital with maybe the odd week at home here or there.

I'm sorry that you find yourself in this position and to everyone on this thread who had to deal with something similar cake

Itsmine Sun 09-Aug-15 18:04:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Marshy Sun 09-Aug-15 18:05:18

I think you need to ask yourself why you are contacting her op. If the reasons are genuine then go ahead but be prepared for any one of a number of responses.

Having said that it doesn't sound as if you are that close. And in her position she can be just as 'sensitive' as she likes.

Flossyfloof Sun 09-Aug-15 18:06:37

The week after my Mum died I met an old friend of hers who said how very sorry she was. My Mum had been ill for.several years and this person, who lived in th same town, had not been in touch. I understand what people are saying about grief tourism but I gave her very short shrift. Where was she when my Mum was ill and maybe needed help or company?
You are coming from a kind and loving place, get in touch. X

therealsquireofwideacre Sun 09-Aug-15 18:22:35

My brother is currently terminally ill and it's amazing how after the initial flurry of messages and cards, we are down to the handful of true friends and relatives who are with us for the long haul. There were messages from friends who felt they had treated my brother badly or felt guilty their friendship had drifted and wanted his forgiveness. It wasn't helpful. He didn't/doesn't have the emotional energy to give. If you want to be there for your friend and you will be there through the hard slog, do it.

flowers to MrsdeVere and all affected.

whatisforteamum Sun 09-Aug-15 18:33:54

i would get in touch then it is up to her if she responds surely.Both my parents have incurable cancer and Mums brother and sister visited when she was diagnosed then disappeared afterwards as if she were contagious or something.The same happened with dad who is now in his last weeks/months.Some people who seemed like friends disappeared then others such as neighbours are baking pies and cakes and generally popping in with offers of support.
If your friend doesnt respond just remember she has alot to deal with and dont take it personally.Good luck and sorry about your friend.

TheTravellingLemon Sun 09-Aug-15 18:34:17

I was obviously meant to post flowers and not cake. blush sorry.

Poppyinafield Sun 09-Aug-15 18:59:33

I hate the fucking flowers. I hate the fucking cards. I hate the fucking platitudes are us cards. I have shut down totally. I enjoy good selective company with friends I know and trust. The rest can fuck off. They will have to figure things out for themselves. Frankly I am all done in with coping with other people. I want solitude, music, quiet and time. Time is running out for all of us. Use the time lovingly before it is too late all the time and not just the last few weeks.

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