“Ghost” During Cancer

My mother was an active lady among the neighborhood women and her garden club. It seemed as if she had many friends. However, once she was diagnosed with gastric cancer, her friends started disappearing one by one. I did not understand it at the time but as the years have passed, I understand a little better. I have been fortunate enough to work with cancer patients, their family and friends, and now I realize that sometimes people do not know how to cope the possibilities of loss.

Heather Millar recently wrote an article describing “ghosting” when loved ones have cancer.  Many patients with cancer have experienced an unpleasant surprise while enduring the cancer journey when someone they thought was really close to them disappeared, “ghosted.”  Why someone close to a cancer patient would abandon them during the last few months of life is complicated and hard to understand.  Cancer can  tear the family apart but normally they stay close together and face it as a loving family.

Usually there is an abundance of family and friends to gather around for support and help for the patient, but how would I feel if someone I was really close to deserted me at the ending of my life and really needed their compassion?

What we don’t realize is that everyone is fighting a battle that the patient knows nothing about.  The “ghosting” most likely has nothing to do with the cancer but everything to do with the person who’s doing the ghosting.

This is not a concept I have heard about before, but after thinking about it I can relate to some people not being able to face death.  I guess for some it’s easier to put their head in the sand rather than to face the pain and loss. Grief is comes in many forms and sometimes is hard to tackle.

The sad thing to think about too, is that in the United States, the word “cancer” usually means death. Try to get that out of your head. Goodness and miracles happen everyday. No one is dead till they are dead! I believe that too many people are dying prematurely in the U.S.

Dr Fredda Branyon