As you move into the next stage of your lymphoma experience, you may notice changes in your relationship dynamics with your friends that may be very different than those with your family.
Some of your friends may be supportive, while others may be distant. Some don’t know what to say or how to help so interactions may feel strained, while others may not want to deal with your lymphoma situation at all. As you continue to nurture your friendships, try to understand your friends’ concerns and be patient. Going through this experience can be a challenge for all. At this stage, it is perfectly alright if you decide to let go of your casual friendships while continuing to cultivate your deeper relationships – you need to do what feels right for you. Remember there is no rule book on how to respond when friends become ill.
Here are some tips on relating with your friends at this phase of your lymphoma experience:
- Thank your friends that have been supportive: express to them what their help has meant to you; this can be very rewarding for both you and your friends.
- Update your friends: it is natural for your friends to continue to worry, be anxious, and scared for your health; updating them about your treatment and progress will help them understand what you are going through; some people find it helpful to update multiple people at once (ie, communication chain, social media page, blog, or “newsletter”).
- Accept offers of help: acknowledge that you will still need help and recognize that your friends want to be helpful; inform them of specific tasks that they can help you with.
- Communicate your expectations: your lymphoma experience is unique and your expectations from each of your friends will differ; to prevent unnecessary misunderstandings and resentment, be clear to your friends about how you would like them to respond and patiently explain what you need from them; at the same time, ask them about their expectations – it can be helpful to let them know right away if their expectations are not reasonable to you.
If you have a friend who has been hurtful or insensitive to you during your lymphoma experience, and you wish to repair that relationship, try to resolve the problem face-to-face. If the issues persist, talk to another friend, a family member, or a counselor to help you handle the situation.
National Cancer Institute. Facing Forward: Life After Cancer Treatment. Social and Work Relationships