Being diagnosed with cancer turns people’s lives upside down. From anxiety about what the future might hold to the grim day-to-day realities of being ill and going through treatment, it can be a frightening and often isolating diagnosis to live with.
At the very least, though, most of us would probably expect our friends and family to rally around, offering support at such a challenging time. But what if they don’t?
In research carried out by War on Cancer, a social networking app for cancer patients, 65% of respondents said that friends or relatives had disappeared or cut contact after their diagnosis. This heartbreaking phenomenon is known as ‘cancer ghosting’.
“I’ve always loved being surrounded by friends, going out and doing things with everyone. So for that to stop, and your friends to stop even coming to see you, it’s just another hit that you take when you’re already going through so much,” says 27-year-old executive assistant Georgie Swallow, who was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2018 and has just finished treatment following a relapse.
“I didn’t even realise that this was a thing when I got diagnosed, that I was going to lose friends over it. I really needed people around me who were going to batten down the hatches and go through it with me, so it was absolutely awful to feel like a lot of people just deserted me,” she adds.