When a Loved One Leaves Because You are Sick: To the Left, To the Left…

It is amazing to see what happens when you are faced with something unimaginable. I’ve experienced people who responded and people who reacted to finding out that I had cancer. The people who responded instantly wanted to know what they could do to help. They drove or flew hours to see me, sat with me, slept next to me in the hospital, gave blood for me, held my hand, told me everything was going to be okay, and they cried with me. I also had the experience of someone reacting to the news.

To respond is positive, to react is negative.

-Zig Ziglar

When I told my boyfriend that I had cancer he had a reaction that I wasn’t expecting: radio silence. I had left a message for him, letting him know that I was sick. Instead of calling me back right away. He didn’t call back… ever. Several days passed and he didn’t call back. I wondered if he was okay. Had something happened? I mean, that was the only reasonable explanation. Clearly, he was in a hospital somewhere. That is the only reason why he wouldn’t call me back. This is where my mind went in order to explain this strange phenomena. I shouldn’t be upset, I should be concerned about him because no one would do that to someone they care about.

Joy on the phone after cancer diagnosis
On the phone after being diagnosed with cancer.

Thankfully, he was okay. What? Yes! He was okay. Alive and well, I am happy to report. I finally was able to get a hold of him when I called from my aunt’s unlisted phone number. “Hello.” he said. “Hi, this is Joy.” click. He hung up on me. Then he had his friend call me to tell me that things just hadn’t worked out. It was awful.

You cannot tailor make the situations in life, but you can tailor make the attitudes to fit those situations before they arise.

-Zig Ziglar

I remember being so upset that I could feel pain in my neck, where they had found the cancer. I had never felt that before. In that instant I realized that being upset over this person’s actions was actually hurting me. It was causing me even more stress than I was already under and it was making the cancer grow. In that moment I let go of the anger and hurt and realized I had to focus on myself and getting better.

About two years later, I needed to talk to him. He had taken some video footage of me when I was sick, but before I had been diagnosed. You can see the lump in the footage so I really wanted to make sure I could use it. It was the last thing I wanted to do.

One day I finally did it. I got in my car and drove to where he had lived when we were dating. I couldn’t believe I was there. As I walked up to his house everything in me wanted to turn around, but I didn’t and before I knew it I was in front of his door knocking. A girl answered. I asked if he was there. “Let me get him,” she said. She closed the door as I waited. The next thing I heard was footsteps approach the door and arguing in low voices. It sounded like he had looked through the peep-hole, saw who it was, and didn’t want to answer. I don’t know what happened, but it sounded like she made him answer the door. At this point I was shaking, but I survived cancer, I could survive this schmuck.

“So… I hear you were sick or something?” he casually mentions. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. My ears filled with the sound of blood pumping through my body.

The door opened and there he was, he looked uncomfortable, but he faked a smile to see me and invited me in. I was still shaking, but I didn’t care, I was there to get a video release and I was going to get it. “So… I hear you were sick or something?” he casually mentions. My heart was about to beat out of my chest. My ears filled with the sound of blood pumping through my body. Breathe. “Oh yeah, I was sick, but I’m better now.” Was my only response. I had shoulder length hair and didn’t look sick anymore. I was back to “normal.” I explained to him why I was there and that I needed his signature on a release. He signed it and I was out of there. I was SO proud of myself! I had faced my fear. I didn’t get upset with him or ask him why because it just didn’t matter to me. This was someone who was not supposed to be in my life.

Ultimately, his actions had nothing to do with me. He obviously had issues that caused this reaction to hearing that I was sick. I am so far removed from this now, but I can see that this came from his experiences. I don’t know what had happened in his life to cause him to react this way, but something obviously had happened. I can only be my best me and not concern myself with someone who has to work through his own issues.

So, if you find yourself in a situation like this let the person go because you have to take care of yourself and love yourself. You can always sing an empowering song, like Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” to help.


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