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  • Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

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    Old 01-05-2009, 11:05 PM   #1
    gregles
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    Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    I am having a very unique problem that I need advice about. My best friend (age 34 with 2 small children) was DX with a very rare and aggressive T-cell lymphoma. She has tumors that have turned into big open sores on her legs. The tumor sores weep fluid and smell terrible. She thought the smell was from dead rotting tissue, so she dug it out with a pair of scissors. She now has a 3" deep hole in her leg. She just went in about 3 months ago with pancreatitis and also had her gall bladder removed. She recovered fine from her surgery and she is home now, but she just started getting a new symptom. She is suddenly VERY weak and tired all the time. Of coarse she has an excuse for that too. It has been 9 months since she was first diagnosed and she has never gone back to the doctor for a follow up visit or any treatment. What is really sad is that at her very first doctor appointment, the oncologist told her that he wanted to watch it and see what was going to happen because at the time - all of her CT/MRI scans were clean and the doctor told her that she was lacking the "markers" that made it malignant. She just had these little tiny lumps in her legs. He wanted to see her 4 months later to make sure, because they can change and become malignant. By then the tumors had become big sores and when her appointment came - she cancelled it. She did this because she is a believer in natural methods and does not want to do chemo. I am also a believer in natural methods, but know that this is not the time or the place. She is not even seeing a homeopathic doctor - no doctors at all. She is doing this on her own and I am very scared about that. I have tried and tried to talk to her about going to the doctor but she is very terrified of Chemo and modern medicine. She will not listen to me and I can see the signs of the progession of this disease. She really believes that her and her husband can cure this. I want to believe it too, but I am not so hopeful. I am very afraid that she is in denial about all of it. She is telling her family that she doesn't have cancer and that it was all benign. Her family is not in the state. They live quite far away and she is lying to them about her condition. They have NO idea. Her own mother thinks that she's fine. She doesn't want anyone to know. I don't feel like I can influence her to go to the doctor - I think she is afraid of what she might hear. I also think that she really believes that she can beat this on her own. Do I go behind her back and contact her family and tell them the truth???? I'm not sure what to do. Would that be betraying my friend - or should her family know? Other than her husband, I am the only one who knows. I am afraid that by not telling them the truth, they may be robbed of precious time. Is it my place to tell them if things are getting out of hand and they are not taking any action?

    Thanks to whoever is listening...

    Last edited by gregles; 04-22-2009 at 10:29 PM.

     
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    Old 01-08-2009, 01:11 AM   #2
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    I'm so sorry about your friend and your unenviable position. I would most definitely tell her family if you think they could persuade her to go back to see her doctor. No-one likes to betray a friend, but I think because this situation is so serious and probably life threatening you have no choice. Your friend will most likely be very angry with you but if you explain that you would prefer to lose her friendship than her lose her life she might eventually forgive you. Good luck.

     
    Old 01-08-2009, 10:05 PM   #3
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    Her diagnosis was cutaneous gamma delta t-cell lymphoma
    At this point she isn't able to face any of this. She isn't able to go there in her head. She has 2 small children. She won't even begin to talk about the possibility that the cancer might be progressing and that all the stuff she is doing hasn't worked... She can't even say the word "cancer". I guess that what hurts isn't going behind her back and contacting her family, but more that I'm afraid to burst her bubble. Maybe I should just back off and let her do this how she wants to do this. Maybe she would be more uncomfortable if everyone knew - if she knew. I am also a mother of 4 and I can relate to what her mother is going to feel - I also don't want to be the one to break that news. Lately she is so tired - no energy. She is sleeping when ever I call or go over there. She is taking a lot of digestive enzymes to help with the other stuff. I feel like I can see what is happening and they can't. Maybe because I am at a distance looking in and they are in it. I'm not sure what to tell the family. I'm not sure if it's my place. I worry so much about her. I have this terrible panic feeling all the time that makes me want to call her parents, but then I have this other side that wants to honor the way she wants to do it. But then if her mother knew now, she would maybe have time to be with her if she is going to get more and more sick. Do you see this constant battle in my head. I either have to be brave and make the call - or drop it and just be her friend the way she wants me to.

    Last edited by gregles; 04-22-2009 at 10:26 PM.

     
    Old 01-09-2009, 02:22 AM   #4
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    Oh dear the whole situation is so very sad. I did a search on her type of cancer. I'm afraid it doesn't sound real hopeful. There are certainly treatments available to her though. I honestly don't know what I'd do in your position. I can tell you as a mother of a 31 and 29 year old I would want to know. She must know underneath how serious this is and ignoring it won't make it go away. I guess she's really petrified, I don't blame her for that. I know for sure she is very lucky to have you for a friend. I wish I had an answer for you but it's just not that simple. Please feel free to unload anytime. I will have you and your friend in my thoughts.

     
    Old 01-10-2009, 01:15 AM   #5
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    Thank you for your support. Going through this with a friend as close as she is - it is like family. We have laughed together, cried together - raised our kids together, ran miles together. We have everything in common. She is a 2 time All-American college tennis player and I am a 2 time All-American college softball player. We love sports.

    I will never forget the day she called me and told me - not to be alarmed, but I found a lump. I knew over the quiet of the phone that there was no going back from there. Everything changed and got so serious. There was a spark of hope that the first doctor appointment brought. She had 4 lumps at the time all about the size of golf balls. 1 in her breast and 3 in her legs. They ONLY biopsied the one in her breast. At her first Dr. appointment, the doctor told her that the biopsy was lacking the "markers" that make it malignant. At the time he said it was benign and told her that it was going to shrink and go away. The one in her breast was already smaller from the time she found it to the time of the doctor appointment. They never did biopsy the ones in her legs, for some reason they were only concerned with the lump in her breast. They assumed that they were all the same and told her that they would all shrink and go away. The one in her breast did eventually shrink and go away. That is the medical advice that she has been holding onto for 8 months now. The ones in her legs never did shrink and go away. They broke through the skin and became huge oozing, weeping sores the size of your fist. I have always been so angry that they never biopsied all of them. And I have always been so frustrated that she never went back when they didn't do what they were suppose to.

    The weight that cancer holds on your shoulders is so heavy. I went from talking about our kids going to highschool together - to wondering if we would see them in kindergarten together. Can I just tell everyone what an awesome mother she is. Her kids have SO much confidence and love. She is at every basketball game, football game, soccer game - you name it. She is the room mother for her son's class. She is always complimenting and encouraging them. She is their entire world. They are so little. We have shed many tears through her biopsy, diagnosis and just the waiting... Through all of this - she has kept that big beautiful smile on her face.

     
    Old 01-10-2009, 02:10 AM   #6
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    I certainly feel for you. Have you tried talking to her husband? It sounds like he is in denial as well. I think I would tell her family, but only you can make that decision. Maybe they can influence her to undergo some medical intervention, in addition to the natual approach she appears to be following. Being unwell is very frightening and maybe you need to be the brave one in this scenario and go against her wishes for secrecy.

    In January 2008 my sister became unwell with what she was told was gastro. It wasn't getting better. I took her to the doctors at least twice a week and to emergency on a couple of occasions. She asked me not to tell our parents as they would worry unnecessarily. 7 weeks later she was dead and my parents didn't get to share in the last 7 weeks of her life. It's a big thing to carry around.

     
    Old 01-10-2009, 03:01 AM   #7
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    I guess at this point I would tell her family She is obviously in complete denial and she doesn't want to know herself so if she told her family then she would have to come to grips with death. I'm not so sure telling her family will do any good but she wasn't very nice in telling you all of this and sticking you with this very heavy burdan which is not yours to carry around. If she gets mad at you for telling her family just tell her that you are sorry but you can't carry the burden alone...and it is only human nature to try to help a dear friend. Good luck.

     
    Old 01-10-2009, 10:44 PM   #8
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by crystalbart View Post
    I certainly feel for you. Have you tried talking to her husband? It sounds like he is in denial as well. I think I would tell her family, but only you can make that decision. Maybe they can influence her to undergo some medical intervention, in addition to the natual approach she appears to be following. Being unwell is very frightening and maybe you need to be the brave one in this scenario and go against her wishes for secrecy.

    In January 2008 my sister became unwell with what she was told was gastro. It wasn't getting better. I took her to the doctors at least twice a week and to emergency on a couple of occasions. She asked me not to tell our parents as they would worry unnecessarily. 7 weeks later she was dead and my parents didn't get to share in the last 7 weeks of her life. It's a big thing to carry around.
    I'm so sorry for what you went through with your sister. When it turns bad to worse - I guess it can happen that fast and hind sight is always 20/20. You always know exactly what you should have done. But, while your in it, it's not that easy of a call. I too have made those emergency room trips. There is no way you can know what is going to happen next in that situation. My friend is up and acting fine one day and down and out the next. She is so good at hiding it. I have seen her go from crying on the couch - to laughing and putting on a show on the phone to her dad in a matter of seconds. I told her that she needs to win an oscar award for the show she puts on. She is very good at putting on that "I'm fine" face. I can see her trying to put on this face until she can't hide it anymore. The reason I haven't called yet is because she really acts uncomfortable while they are here. She feels like she needs to be up and entertaining and then she ends up getting more sick when they leave. I guess the "show" takes it's toll when you try to act normal for weeks. She hasn't ever been honest about it with them. I think that would take the pressure off of their visits if she were honest with them about her condition and the fact that she can't go shopping for 5 hours while they're here. They would understand and they would be happy to just be in her presence. I think I will make that call.

     
    Old 01-16-2009, 09:48 PM   #9
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    Tumor Taking Over

    Ok, at this point the tumor in her leg is taking over her life. My heart breaks so bad for her. She puts on a brave face 99% of the time, but every once in a while she breaks. The tumor in her leg is so big. It is a sore the size of a fist. That is just the face of the sore. The tumor under the skin goes very deep. It recently started leaking and has a very bad smell. I cried with her as she told me that even going to the grocery store or the post office is a huge ordeal for her. She has to mask the smell and then hope that she doesn't run into anyone she knows. On top of this, she has to deal with the terrible pain it causes with every step. She is still not going to the doctor. I am afraid of infection. Kids are so honest and blunt. They don't know what the smell is, so they will walk in and say "what is that smell - eewww", and leave the room. They are so little, they don't know. She is feeling like she has to hide out in her own house from her own family. She is having a very hard time with this emotionally. I emailed her mom tonight. It was a very hard thing to do. I didn't want to tell her this in an email because she has no idea of any of it. I am waiting for her mom to call me. My new question is - what do I say? Do I tell her the whole truth about the tumors in her legs, or do I just tell her that I think she is very sick and she is not being honest about it and needs to see a doctor? My heart is pounding out of my chest even thinking about having to do this. It is so nice to talk to people who have been here with their loved ones. It's so nice to have people to turn to with these tough questions - even if we've never met. We are all brothers and sisters still....

    I don't know who is reading this - but thank you for your prayers.

    Last edited by gregles; 04-22-2009 at 10:23 PM.

     
    Old 01-17-2009, 02:02 AM   #10
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    After wiping away the tears, I can only say I think you are doing the right thing. I would be inclined to tell them the whole truth as difficult as that will be for you and them. If they ring your friend and ask what's wrong she may tell them you are exaggerating. If you tell them the whole story it will save your friend from having to tell them. The situation has reached a point where something has to be done, even if she's dragged to the Doctor kicking and screaming. You are so brave and good, you are both in my thoughts.

     
    Old 01-17-2009, 11:39 PM   #11
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    Believe me, I have wiped away my share of tears. I had to pull over and cry on the side of the road because I couldn't even drive after I left her house. Her mother has still not called me. The only way I can contact her family is by email. My friend forwards me emails every once in a while that she also sends to her mom, sisters and dad. I have been saving all of her emails for months now and I went back through them until I found all of their addresses. If her mom doesn't check the email, I can't get a hold of her. I guess I should just send an email to everyone and wait for someone to call. My heart pounds out of my chest every time the phone rings. I don't see her on the weekends because her husband is home Fri. Sat. and Sun. I talk to her everyday on the phone, but I don't like to interupt family time. She does a lot better when he's home. Starting on Monday, I am going to start taking cards over and hanging out with her for most of the day. I don't think it's good that she's alone. I have started to tell some of our other friends. Even though they aren't as close - they may be able to help with cleaning, meals and kids in the future. I honestly feel guilt and shame that I have known for so long and have stood by her wishes. My husband told me that I need to back off and look at it through different eyes. Because we are so close, I am thinking too much like her, and I need to start thinking for her benefit and not her wishes.

    Last edited by gregles; 04-22-2009 at 10:21 PM.

     
    Old 02-01-2009, 05:41 AM   #12
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    I told her family

    The cancer has progessed a little more. Every time I go over there she has more pain. She says that she is at a level 10 pain for 5-6 hours straight and she can't find any relief. She is using an electric blanket with blankets on top of that to stay warm because she is shivering cold all the time. She thinks that she is doing what's best for her by staying away from doctors and still trying to do things natually. I feel like I am the ONLY one that knows the truth. She is in such a denial bubble that I still can't get her to even say she has cancer.

    So I came home and called her sister that is a nurse. I told her everything and she cried really hard on the phone. They didn't even know she was sick -they were still under the impression that it was all benign. It went around her whole family and then she started to get the phone calls with all the questions that she doesn't want to answer and doesn't even have answers for. She is SO mad at me that she said she doesn't want to have ANY contact between our families or us. She said the pain of the betrayal was worse than the pain of anything else. I can't tell you how this has ruined my life. I feel like I have to go to counseling to just get my life back together. I have had so many emotions invested in her that it's unhealthy. I can't hold her hand while she chooses to hide in her house. I can't watch her try to rub natural creams and oils on it HOPING that she can pull off a miracle on her own. I can't be apart of this lie - I can't watch her say that she is improving and that all of this is just a phase anymore. I had to blow the whistle and at least try to get her to see other options. She will never get over what I did - and she will never understand why. She will take this hate for me to the grave... It is so hard for me to be cut off like this, however I knew it was going to be the result of that phone call. Our children are best friends as we were. I don't know how to pick up the pieces and try to move on from this. I have tried to resolve things with her. I have tried to talk - but she will never see it as anything but the worst betrayal of trust that anyone has ever done. I can only hope now that her family can step in and get her the help she needs.

    END OF STORY..............

    Last edited by gregles; 04-22-2009 at 10:20 PM.

     
    Old 02-03-2009, 02:45 PM   #13
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    This is such a heart-breaking story that it brought tears to my eyes reading it. You made such a painful and it didnt matter which way you went (telling her family or keeping quiet, someone was going to get hurt. Personally, i think you made the right decision, as maybe her family will rally round and make her see sense and that she needs to get some form of medical treatment asap. Is she not thinking of her children and husband? Doesnt she want to get better for them? Also, I dont understand why her husband hasnt done more to get her help. Just keep being there for her, even though it will be from a distance. Send her emails, leave voicemail messages and hopefully she will see what a fantastic friend she has pushed away, who only tried to do the right thing.

    I hope things work out between you both.

    Take care

    smb

     
    Old 02-04-2009, 01:20 AM   #14
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    SHe called me...

    I contacted a person that my friend and I met months and month ago on the internet. She was DX with the same cancer and told she only had 6 months to live. She later found out that it was a misdiagnosis. But, she kept in contact and became close to my friend. She is an older very wise and wonderful woman. Her name is Trisha Torrey. She has a website and is a patient advocate. She shares the same views and stuggles as my friend with trusting the medical system. I contacted her and told her about this entire thing. She felt like she could talk to my friend in a way that she would listen because they share the same fears. Trisha contacted her and together they searched the internet and found a doctor that she was comfortable with. I only know this because Trisha kept me in the loop. The doctor was a real MD, but also practices homeopathic remedies - and ironic enough I tried a month ago to get her to see the same doctor. She followed through with her doctor appointment and I have to say how PROUD I am of her. I know it was terribly hard to go and show that wound to anyone.

    She called me tonight from the hospital. They sent her straight there and said that want to act very quickly. She was very scared and shaky sounding. They do think that this is cancer. It is consistent with her DX and they are going to try to remove the tumors. They aren't sure yet how they are going to do it. The larger one that is giving her the problem might be wrapped and branched out to the bone. So I don't know what the outcome of this surgery is going to be. I am going down in the morning to be with her. I'm not sure what they are going to find with a full-body MRI, but I know she is in the right hands now. I wish I could say there is relief, but there really isn't. I don't know what she is going to be told tomorrow. I'm not sure how to comfort her or the right words to say. I just want to be there to cry with her. This is the point where the pressure from the last 9 months has finally come to a head. This is not going to be easy. This has brought me to my knees and I have searched for any comfort to calm my mind and ease my spirit. I am so thankful for my testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives because I have felt His influence in my life. During this painful time, He is the only place I have found strength and peace. I know that everything is going to be okay - no matter what they say. It will not be easy - but it will be okay. I am so proud of her for having the courage to hear the words she dreaded to hear and walk through this fire. She will not do it alone...

     
    Old 02-04-2009, 01:43 AM   #15
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    Re: Best friend is hiding her cancer... what do I do.

    You should be so proud of yourself, you are a very special soul, I will be praying for you and your friend.

     
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