The term “ghosting” is a common phrase that people use when describing somebody ignoring them. Ghosting occurs when a friend, colleague or partner may decide to ignore you completely, cut off any communication and possibly even block your number. Cancer ghosting is an unfortunate reality for many people who have been diagnosed. Cancer ghosting occurs when people fail to continue their relationship with someone they know who has been diagnosed with cancer, and reduce their contact with them for one reason or another. Both sides of cancer ghosting are partially understandable, but how can we resolve this issue and prevent it from happening again?
When somebody is diagnosed with cancer, it is extremely important to have a supportive circle, whether that be your friends, family or colleagues, or maybe joining a support group of people experiencing the same as you. Maybe, you find comfort and support from strangers, and join online cancer support groups, or the likes of Macmillan Cancer Research. Whatever your go-to support circle is, it is important that you don’t go through a significant life event such as cancer, alone.
Despite the person with cancer being ultimately the one who is in need of the most support from those around them, some people may be unaware of how to respond to hearing this kind of news. We’ve all had an experience where you’re lost for words, so to speak, and this definitely occurs more than you may think, when somebody tells another person about their diagnosis. Understandably, the news that somebody you know has unfortunately been diagnosed with cancer is always a shock, nobody expects it to be somebody they know, or even themselves. It’s an extremely difficult and often strange conversation, to either be the one telling your lifelong friend you have cancer, or to hear it from them. Despite many cancer patients having a good experience with telling people about their diagnosis and receiving endless love and support, it can often be quite the opposite for others.
Some cancer patients have experienced ghosting when telling people about their diagnosis, for instance people refrain from talking to them, visiting them, or having any communication at all. As mentioned, it is understandable that some people may not know how to react, or how to talk to a cancer patient, and maybe they feel awkward or are worried they will become upset. However, when somebody you know is experiencing a life-changing event, good or bad, it is incredibly important to reassure them that you are there for them one hundred percent. If you’re unsure of what to say to someone diagnosed with cancer, you can start with a “How can I help?” or “What would you like me to do to help you?”, this way you are empowering the person and letting them be in control. Even if you aren’t sure how to speak to them without being insensitive, the two of you can work through it together and set boundaries on what to and what not to talk about.
There is always a way to remain in contact with somebody who has been diagnosed with cancer, whether you feel awkward speaking to them, or are worried you may become upset in front of them, the best thing you can do is be open and honest. Talking is the most important thing you can do for someone you know with cancer, reassure them, take them out for coffee, a walk, things that will help distract them and escape reality. It is unfortunate that cancer ghosting has become a commonly used term, and that many people living with cancer have experienced it, however taking small steps, talking, and providing support is the most important thing you can do for them. It takes little time and effort to pop round for a coffee, or have a quick phone call to chat about your day with them, everything helps that person get through their diagnosis and know they have support.