Loneliness

As an introvert, I’m particularly comfortable being on my own, in fact, I often prefer it. Being on my own and conducting my own solitary activities is how I recharge, how I refill my energy. Time around people and having to be “on” in terms of interacting and keeping my energy up is tiring.

And yet.

I’ve never experienced such loneliness as the time I’m often on my own after my diagnosis with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC).

I suppose part of that could be that my life and circles have shrunk since my diagnosis. There is no longer an office and a to-do list a mile long to complete as well as employees and administrative issues as well as legal work to do. Many of the colleagues that I connected with regularly have moved on with their lives and careers while mine has changed substantially.

While I’m sure these objective factors do affect my feelings of isolation and loneliness, as well as the pandemic and the fact that my days and weeks and months are typically filled with medical appointments, I think the largest factor is that there are few people around me who have had the same experiences. The significant and often consuming work of simply staying alive means that my communication and learning and time are so laser focused to be overwhelming for those outside the MBC Community. No one else is so interested in the results of every blood test and charting the changing levels of various vitamins or markers in my blood, outside of maybe my husband.

And so there is a plethora of time for inward musing and time on my own.

An introvert’s dream?

To a certain extent, yes. I now have the space and time to recharge as needed. My days are filled with experiences that were often very rare before, like massages. The sad fact of the matter is that my limited energy is even more limited since my diagnosis and more things exhaust me than before. I find myself canceling much more often than I ever did before.

At the same time, the need to connect with others in the MBC Community, to find those people who are similarly focused on research and those pesky numbers on the blood tests, has risen in importance. I never understood before how important it is to connect with people with similar experiences since I was typically surrounded by those who were pursuing similar goals in the past. Now I do understand how hearing “I had the same experience” can fill a void you never really realized was there.

29 thoughts on “Loneliness

  1. So true. We really do need people who have experienced something similar to us, especially if it is something huge. It’s hard to carry the associated burdens alone and the only people who really understand are those who are walking the same journey as us.

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  2. I am also an introvert and prefer to be alone, but that means loneliness. My friends try or dismiss me by throwing out the usual dialog which is not helpful or try to understand but unless they have experienced mbc, they truly do not get it. No mbc groups around here and the only 2 mbc friends that I connected with passed away this year. I truly love the online group. The only place that I can share freely with others who truly understand what I’m feeling.

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    1. I totally agree with you, the online groups are the places where we can share freely with others who understand; there is often no need for an explanation other than just a few words. Glad you are getting that support.

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  3. Oh dear I’m feeling the exact same way. However I don’t have a spouse to hold my hand when I’m feeling the loneliest. I’ve tried to find support groups to no avail even asking my Drs to help me. The worse times are I’m the late evening. I desperately seek out someone to come visit and spend some time with me. Everyone has their own lives. When you find an answer lease include me and let me know. I have MBC HER2 positive. Thank you for your post.

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    1. I’m so sorry that you have struggled so much to find a support group locally. Have you checked out Project Life? You can sign up at ProjectLifeMBC.com. It is a virtual wellness house, but plenty of opportunities to connect with other members and perhaps find someone local. We also have a mentoring program.

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      1. But not yours 📖

        As an introvert I’ve found I will write stuff that had I not done so, I would have never told anyone simply dying in my own movie… Then when I do write I find people out there who actually get where I am coming from and I feel seen.
        More love 💜

        ~B

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am an extravert — maybe too much. I crave bein g in crowds and being with people. Since my MBC diagnosis, I have left the work world and don’t have that crowd of students/people to be with. We moved back to a pllace and it turns out that some people here are not comfortable in seeing Linda the cancer patient. They want the old Linda back and she is long gone. So my community is basically my husband and my kids. Sometimes I am really, really lonel.

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  5. Thank you for sharing. Even though I don’t share your experiences the side effects of the treatments I had were incredibly gruelling at times and the collateral damage has also been isolating in so many ways so I really get what you’re saying in this blog post. It’s hard to explain to others who have had primary breast cancer but who haven’t had those experiences X

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