It’s normal for friendships to come and go. What matters is that you stay connected with the friends you value. Why not take the lead and ask them to come and visit you? Of course you can always call, message or even set up a blog, but nothing beats some quality time with people who make you feel good.
Being out of touch
You won't always know the latest news. Some friends might move on while you're being treated, because of college, university or work. You might just be too ill to be in regular contact with friends, or simply not fancy telling people again and again what's been happening. This can make you feel frustrated and alone.
It's important you do what is right for you to stay connected with friends. This might involve being the one who takes the lead and asking friends to come and visit you. If they haven't seen you while you've been ill, it may be a little awkward at first but they'll soon see that you're the same person.
Keeping in touch online
Using social media, blogging or vlogging are great ways of keeping in the loop. They can help you feel connected to everything going on and allow you to share news easily to everyone, without needing to repeat yourself.
"I found it hard to keep up with friends. I used Facebook a lot to find out what was going on and update everyone."
Staying in control
Sometimes, though, it can start to feel overwhelming because of the amount of questions or comments on your posts. People might ask or say things that feel intrusive, and remember that if you’re posting publically, you run a risk of being ‘trolled’ or getting abusive comments.
This is never acceptable and you don’t have to put up with it. Should you find yourself being trolled then don’t give them the satisfaction of responding. Simply record what they’ve said, block that person and report it to a site moderator. Responding often just inflames the situation. For some tips on how to deal with it, visit bulliesout.com
Online support groups and communities
These are great places to connect with people who are going through, or have been through, a similar experience. Make sure the group you choose is moderated and run by a trustworthy organisation. Also, bear in mind that what you read or hear won’t necessarily be reliable. Someone else’s cancer experience is specific to them, just like yours is unique to you. If you don’t feel comfortable, you can always leave. If in doubt, speak to a member of your care team.
Online support groups work well when:
- They provide moral support and understanding in a safe environment
- They reduce anxiety about treatment and side effects.
Be cautious when:
- Moderators don’t suitably monitor a group
- Posts are highly negative without being balanced by positive feedback
- Posts claiming to be factual prove to have no scientific basis.
CLIC Sargent's Online Community is a safe space for young people to share experiences and support each other. Download the app by searching ‘CLIC Sargent Online Community’. Use #helloimnew when you arrive.
Friends you’ll meet in hospital
It’s likely you’ll get to know other people who have cancer and make friends with people going through similar stuff. These friends may become incredibly valuable and special as you support one another on your journeys. So it can be particularly tough if a friend faces a setback in their treatment. If this happens, it’s important to talk about your feelings with other friends in hospital or a member of your care team.
Face to face support groups
If you want to speak to more young people with cancer, joining a support group can be a great place to meet other people in a similar situation. Meetings are usually held in hospitals, cancer support centres or community centres. You’ll be able to ask questions, chat, and even forge friendships. Your CLIC Sargent Young People’s Social Worker or Community Worker, or another member of your care team, can put you in touch with an appropriate group. Or visit macmillan.org.uk/in-your-area
We believe that you are best placed to tell us how to make our support even better. Our award winning Participation service has some fab opportunities for you meet other young people and share your experiences. The Young People’s Reference group is for people from across the UK aged 15 to 26 to make sure their voices and ideas incorporated in all aspects of CLIC Sargent’s work.
Updated February 2017, next review due February 2018.