I can deal with the medical side of cancer. Treatment and surgery are tough but I can take it. The isolation I feel from the people around me though is the most horrible thing I have had to deal with in all of this and it hurts more than anyone can possibly understand. I will persevere. I always do. But, I fear that emotionally, I may not recover so well. I would like to find a neutral way to let the people around me know how hurt I am without making them feel bad. I can't think of a way to do this though. If I am upfront and tell them how much they've hurt me, it will only further drive them away. Is there anyway to resolve this and help strengthen my relationships with these people? Or should I cut my losses and try once again to make new friends and hope they don't do the same thing? I just don't want to be sad anymore.
With improved treatments, more and more people are living with cancer, which is now viewed as a chronic illness. While it has to be terribly disappointing to have family and friends scatter and hide when you need them most, this type of reaction is common.
Unfortunately, many people are so frightened of illness and their own mortality that they wind up turning their backs when their support is most needed. They're simply incapable of responding otherwise.
When you're feeling vulnerable and need all the love you can get, this can be extremely unnerving. Although it has to feel very personal, try not to take it personally. It has more to do with the their own frailties and limitations than their feelings about you. You've come to terms with this illness over the course of many years; you have little choice but to let them deal with this on their own terms and timeline.
In the meantime, seek out the people around you who are more capable of being supportive even if it means your friendships are limited to a paltry few. Let them know how they can help and support you in concrete ways.
Remind your friends that your life isn't defined by cancer alone. Perhaps, you can plan a fun event with a friend, maybe an overnight at a spa or casino, so she can see you in a different, more relaxed light. As you mention, support groups with people who have been there can be extremely important in your life right now.
I'm truly sorry about your recurrence and wish I had better answers. Perhaps your post will give others some food for thought and contribute to better understanding.