cancer, Charity, friends, holidays, India, lymphoma, Morocco, personal, Splenic Lymphoma, telling people
When going on holiday the first thing you have on your mind is making the most of the trip away and having a great time. If you are on a group holiday you wonder what type of people will be on it, where they will be from and what they will be like, age/background/jobs/humour.
I have been on a number of holidays with different groups and my most recent trip to Morocco was probably the best blend. With 16 of us it was great how well we got along and I thought everyone was great, like connections from previous trips, Dominic, Cecia, Lykara and others I could name.
The biggest problem I had was whether to mention my incurable cancer or not. Many would think it’s a no brainer. You are meeting these people for the first time, why do you need to tell them anything personal? That’s right for the first few days, but after that it gets tricky.
My insistence on getting my blog up was a case in point. What’s it about? I got asked and flannelled a little bit. Another thing was why I was in the Essex newspapers (one of the chaps on the trip, Nigel, was a photographer for them, incidentally see https://spleniclymphoma.com/2014/08/17/a-different-article-in-the-halstead-gazette-dont-worry-its-the-last-for-a-while/ ) Its amazing how entwined with my life that my cancer has become. On the one hand all my long terms friends know, as do many acquaintances, but they have accepted it, or at least we don’t need to have that initial awkward conversation.
The big thing is still; How do you tell people about it? Also if you become good friends with them and add them to Facebook, they are bound to see anyway, so isn’t it easier to tell them? No matter how used to doing it I get there is never a good time to drop the C bomb on people. At dinner? Only if you want to kill the mood. On a walk? (Just going to drop it in?) Over breakfast, drinks? The other problem is when it comes up. When a situation comes in when you could mention your condition, it’s almost never the best time. Someone is talking about hospitals, you don’t want to wade in with it.
In India, people were talking about cancer they had. We were part of a (largely) older group, so it was pertinent. Even so I felt uncomfortable raising it and felt like it effectively finished the conversation. Partly because of my feelings on it being evident. It was still so raw and fresh for me.
Morocco was different as I am much more at peace with it, not least because of my good fortune of not needing treatment since diagnosis, and hopefully a good few years. I guess some of the group will see this, and I hope they understand why I didn’t tell them in person and why I am now in this blog. In many ways the blog still serves it’s original purpose for new friends, for example, see http://www.spleniclymphoma.com and my original mission statement. It’s hard to tell people you have cancer. Draining. I suppose when you ‘re getting to know strangers and have moved past the first level (where are you from? What do you do? etc) you want to share things, as they do with you. This is a big thing for me, obviously. Still there is an element of worrying if it will change the group dynamic, or put a downer on things.
I guess it’s whatever the sufferer is comfortable with. For me it was easier to leave it until my return, as I do have this blog. Please comment if you would like to, and for everyone on my trip, apologies about not being straight but also and especially thanks for a great time, it was a lot of fun.
John Van Ostrand said:
I was warned by another NHL group that telling people results in negative reaction in too many cases. At its worst the person becomes distant as if NHL is infectious. Usually it results in an awkward conversation with ignorant questions or comments, sometimes offensive, and sometimes with too much pity, with judgment about my lifestyle, or with non-scientific advice.
I’ve told my family, close friends and close business associates and occasionally I tell more distant friends and acquaintances when it’s of significant value to the conversation or when it can’t be avoided.
Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t talk about it because it’s minor compared to conventional cancers and people will mis-interpret my prognosis or that those affected by more serious cancers will somehow be offended. I bet some think I’m cured.
Someone close to me with prostate cancer told me that he was shunned when he told a close business colleague. One who he’d mentored in the business and whom he had regular lunches with for years. When pressed she said she couldn’t handle that kind of negativity in her life.
I’ve talked about people overreacting but there are cases where some under-react. My wife stays informed by accompanying me to doctor visits but my brother, sister and parents never ask how I’m doing. I expect to be asked by close family but they don’t. I don’t mind being asked by anyone if it’s done without pity.
It’s a really difficult one love, it was so when Nick and Carol came to dinner – after I mentioned the blog as in travel Dad assumed they knew which they didn’t – were sorry and very shocked x x x Matthew Mills wants to get in touch about your travels – He is in Hong Kong with his girlfriend and about 24 now!!!! Remember the little boy who cried outside the loo door when Nick went and asked for ‘umber umber’.
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:42:40 +0000 To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I read your blog on my return and obviously was surprised but thought you probably didn’t mention it as maybe sometimes it is nice to just be Marcus and not Marcus with spleniclymphoma. Would it have stopped me throwing snow balls at you should I have known? No, not at all!
You are right to trust your gut feeling in what you want to say and when you choose to say it.
I thought our group was an amazing bunch of very positive thinking people and the whole experience was so uplifting; it was the best holiday I have had in years and that was down to the people in our group, even the one who teased me mercilessly about the minibus falling off the sheer drops 😉
One of my favourite books is Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and I try to live by the principle that this is the only place to ‘live’ as the past and the future don’t exist. As a worrier this has helped me alot. None of us can predict what the future holds…just make everyday the best day that it can be.
Your blog is a good food for thought read and at some point we must sit down and have a talk about life after death, as I have a different opinion!!