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Feeling alone 
Started by Samala
16 Dec 2010, 5:32 AM

Recently, I found out that my "boyfriend" has cancer. I say it like that because I am not sure if that's what we are anymore. We started dating in May, and everything felt like a fairy tale, like we fell instantly in love. Then about mid-summer, he started getting distant. It was almost over night, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. As a social worker and counselor, I know this can happen in any new relationship, but this was different. When we were together, he kept saying thing like one day, you walk away for good; wouldn't talk to me about his kidney disease etc. Finally, in October, I had had enough and we broke up for a month. In that month, he was in and out of the hospital, very sick. I didn't find out about that until we started talking again at the end of October. I thought it was his kidney disease. Then finally after another period of avoiding me, I text him and told him he wasn't who he seemed to be in the beginning, that that's what hurt the most. He texted back that that was before he knew he had cancer so of course he is different.
He won't discuss this with me at all. He called a friend of ours because she's had a life threatening illness, has told her that it's bladder cancer and they're still running more test. He doesn't want to think about it or talk about it right now and he knows I am going to want to, which is part of the reason he's avoiding me.
He's an isolator, it's how he deals with things. Normally, I have no problem respecting that. But this is not something you can isolate yourself with. Also, what do I do? Do I hang in there and hope he comes around, or do I walk away and start again? Although we haven't been together very long, I love this man very much. If it weren't for him shutting me out, I wouldn't even think about walking away. I know this is his illness and he has to deal with it, but I love him and not being able to be there for him is hurting me. I don't know how to deal with this at all, I've had a friend and a mother with life threatening illnesses, who have since recovered, but this is different. I feel so alone right now, so unsure. I am a solutions focused, strength-based social worker in my professional practice, and in this situation, I am helpless.

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Reply by highlanddancermom40
21 Dec 2010, 3:38 AM

Sorry to hear of your boyfriend. I would have to say that although you may feel helpless at this point, there will come a time where he'll probably turn to you for support.
I've known of my sister's cancer for about a month and a half and it's terminal. I just found out this evening that she will now be having palliative care nurses coming in and that she feels as though she's dying on the inside. I made the attempt at going to see her and at her wish, is not ready for the company although she feels alone and scared...her hope is to be able to fly out to see us before she passes away.
I've been told by my husband and a few others to go against her wishes and book the flight anyway...but I am a firm believer in offering them the dignity they so deserve and respect their wishes. Although difficult to just sit back, it's the right thing in my mind to do. Allow them the space they require or desire, but before severing all ties with the man you love, let him know that you respect his wishes, but also make him aware that you will be close by and available for support (in whatever way) so that he knows he has someone he can turn to...I can almost bet that he will someday find that he does need someone at his side. Ask his permission for you to call him even if it's just to talk about a tv show, weather (anything but the cancer) During these times, they can feel as though they are being a burden...also if they are in alot of pain (as is the case with my sister) it may very well be the meds talking.
After my sister said that she wasn't ready for me to be there, I felt rejected, but I then realized later that day that it was the cancer (dictating to everyone how life was going to be) that had rejected me and not my sister. The emotions I have felt as well since finding out, I would have to describe them as a cancer (eating away at you).
I really hope this helps and my thoughts are with you. You can count on me to reply back if you need to talk more.
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Reply by rosaca
12 May 2012, 7:48 PM

Hi Samala,

It's been practically six months since your original post so things may have changed dramatically since then, but I just wanted to drop you a line to see how you're doing and how things have evolved.  The sincerity of your concern for your (former) boyfriend is evident, and I'm hoping you were able to share your sentiments with him.  I hope this message finds you well-- 
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