Last week I mentioned that I had lost the ability to write for a few months. There were many factors that likely led to this condition. Looking back I believe one of the biggest impacts on my state of mind had to do with losing a friend to cancer. In this post I will share that experience.
I’ve mentioned many times on this site that I plan to do a podcast. As fate would have it I found another person via a Facebook cancer support group who shared my same vision for doing a podcast. For the purpose of this post I am going to call her Jane. This is not her real name, but I explain later on why I can’t use her real name.
We recently met to work on a podcast
Jane and I both wanted to do a podcast dealing with the family side of a cancer diagnosis. In the podcast we planned to have guests that included cancer patients and cancer family members. I have found sharing my experience on this blog has helped a lot of cancer family members out. Together Jane and I thought we could do even more to help cancer family members understand they are not alone. Plus, Jane had some experience in radio years ago and had what I would consider a perfect voice for a podcast.
Jane and I spent much of January, February, and March going through various ideas about what to do with the podcast. Due to my tech background I spent a lot of time figuring out the “hows” of doing a podcast; while Jane worked on creating podcast outlines. The whole process was great and I enjoyed working with her on this project. Even though we only knew each other a few months, I considered her a very close friend by the end of March.
As early April approached we decided it was time to take our idea to the next step. Jane and I decided the next step would be to contact a podcast guru I know of in Sioux Falls, SD, who is the media genius behind The Sioux Empire Podcast Network. Our plan was to speak with the guru and present him with our ideas. Perhaps he could give us any pointers and we hoped our podcast might be a good fit to include with his current lineup of podcasts. Accordingly I had finished the draft of a proposal and waited for Jane to give her input. That input never came.
Worrying about a friend
After a couple of days of no reply from Jane I began to get worried. I knew she had recently fallen out of remission and was going to be going through chemotherapy again. Even though we had become friends, I actually know very little about the current condition or history of her cancer. Jane really didn’t like to talk about her health issues and I respected that. Now that I was getting no reply back from her I kept wondering just how bad her fall from remission was and worrying about whether she would be OK.
Days turned into a couple of weeks and I still had not heard from her. I messaged her on Facebook and left a couple of voicemails on her cell phone and land line. No reply ever came from Jane. Her Facebook presence had simply stopped the day I sent her the proposal. As each day progressed I got more and more worried about her. Looking back I really should have shared my worries with my wonderful wife. But it was the busy season at our tax office and I did not want to bother her. I think my lack of sharing this with my wife caused my emotional state to become even worse.
Finally I get a reply of sorts
Just over two weeks after I last heard from Jane I finally got a phone call. The call came from Jane’s granddaughter. It was not a good call. During the call I found out Jane had died gong through surgery. I was devastated after hearing this. Even though I had my own cancer experience, I was not really prepared for the possibility I could lose a friend to cancer. I didn’t know what to say.
Jane’s granddaughter then began yelling on the phone. Due to my being stunned from the news of Jane’s death and my bad hearing I actually didn’t catch all of what she was saying. But I did get the important parts. I found out that Jane had previously decided against having any more procedures done. But after associating with me and working on this podcast project, Jane decided she wanted to go through with a risky procedure in order to better battle cancer.
It was then Jane’s granddaughter let me know the family blamed the podcast project for her death. They believed if Jane had not done such a risky procedure that she would still be around. Further she said I was very evil for giving her grandmother false hope and that I was personally to blame for her death. That struck me hard. She went on further to state that I was not allowed to use Jane as part of my blog and that her family would be watching to be sure I don’t. I have respected that wish by changing Jane’s name, but nothing else has been changed.
If I recall correctly, the only thing I said towards the end of the phone call was “what”. After that Jane’s granddaughter yelled something else I couldn’t understand and hung up the phone. That was the last ever heard from Jane’s family, and I doubt I will ever hear more from them again.
Depression set in
I felt as if I had just been accused of murder. Well I think I really had been accused of murder. Not only had I just lost a friend to cancer, but I was being told it was my fault. I didn’t know how to deal with this. I didn’t know how I should feel or what I should do.
Instead of seeking help from my wife or someone else I simply kept it bottled inside. I did not want to bother anyone with my problem. Part of me also felt guilty for being the cause of Jane’s death. The intellectual part of me knew I had nothing to do with Jane’s passing. But a big part of my heart kept telling me the granddaughter was right in accusing me of causing Jane’s death. Even today I still somewhat feel that way.
As April moved on I became more and more withdrawn. I would put up a front when out in public so people wouldn’t know what was going on. But I know some people, such as my wife, knew there was something wrong. Sadly I never shared this experience with anyone until writing this post. Had I done so sooner I believe depression may not have set in so deep.
Going forward there were other factors I believe led to my bout with depression. However the death of Jane was the big event that really started my downward spiral. Even today I do not believe my depression is completely gone. But I know I am much better emotionally now than I was just a few months ago. Part of me hopes by writing about the past few moths will help me work through any lingering depression.
This post took three days to write and rewrite. Just today I removed almost 1,000 words talking about how I felt. None of it made sense, so it had to be cut. I will possibly try in a future post try to pass on what I was feeling and experiencing.
It is my custom to play this Terry Jacks song when a friend or relative dies…
The podcast will happen. I am currently working on finding a new partner for the podcast. She would have wanted that. Sing it Freddie…