After a cancer diagnosis, your social life will probably change. Cancer can be isolating. You may not feel up for the activities you once enjoyed. This can either be due to feeling poorly physically or emotionally. Side effects may keep you homebound in the days following treatment. Or, your immune system may be so weak that your healthcare team suggests avoiding crowds. Even when you feel well physically, you may be dealing with depression or anxiety. Cancer is a scary, challenging diagnosis, and it takes time to adjust. However, it is important to continue spending time with friends and to do the things your enjoy doing. Here are few ways you can adjust your social life after a cancer diagnosis:
Make Time for Friends Around Treatment
Even if you can’t go out with friends, there are many ways to stay in touch. Ask your friends to visit you when you are feeling well. Once you’re more familiar with your treatment and side effects, you’ll know the best time for visitors. For example, you may be nauseated for two days after treatment, so wait until the third day to ask friends to visit. Maybe you have more energy in the morning instead of the afternoon so invite a friend for breakfast. You can even ask a friend to sit with you during your infusions if you tolerate the medications well. Some infusions can take hours plenty of time to catch up!
You may need to change what you do with your friends. You may not have the energy for going on a hike so see a movie instead. During treatment, you may need to avoid or cut back on alcohol so instead of going out for drinks, meet up for a pottery class.
Use Technology To Connect with Friends
If your doctor recommends avoiding people or crowds because your immune system is weak, you can connect with friends in other ways! Facetime and Skype are a great way to talk with friends over a video feed so you feel like they are with you. Use social media to check in with friends. Start an email book or movie club with a group friends. You can all read the same book or watch the same movie and discuss it via email.
Meet New “Cancer” Friends
The cancer community is actually a thriving place full of warm and welcoming people. No one wants to be part of the “cancer club,” but you may find new friends as a part of it. Go to a support group, conference, or cancer retreat. Talk to other survivors in the infusion room. Join an online support community. Talking with other cancer patients and survivors can be a truly rewarding and inspiring experience.
Adjust Your Dating Life
If you are single, a cancer diagnosis doesn’t have to stop your dating life. You may need to think through a few things through before your next date. For example, will you tell your date about your diagnosis? At what point in your relationship will you bring it up? It’s up to you how much information to share and when to share it, but you will want to decide what you are comfortable with in advance instead of making a snap decision.
Take Time for Yourself
Although friends and family can boost your spirits during cancer treatment, it is also important to take time for yourself. After your diagnosis, a lot of well-meaning friends and acquaintances you haven’t seen in a while may reach out to you. They are worried about you and just want you to know they care, but you do not have to see or visit with all them if you do not feel up to it. A simple thank you is sufficient. Take time for yourself to relax and rest. Take a hot bath, read a book, or go for walk.