The Support Group That Went Haywire

Posted on: March 14th, 2013 by
44

As a breast cancer patient, I tried a few support groups. However, I couldn’t relate to others’ situations and didn’t quite fit in. What bothered me was people’s unwillingness or inability to talk about their innermost struggles and fears.

At Gilda’s Club, a monthly support group was worth checking out. It was moderated by a social worker who was also a breast cancer survivor.

I sat down and felt an instant camaraderie with everyone. They were bitter and angry about family and friends rejecting them. I was bitter and angry about the same issues. They were honest about their feelings and felt no need to gloss over the pain of breast cancer with positive mantras that they didn’t believe.

They resonated with me.

I also met Faun that night, which was a bonus.

After the group session was over, these individuals invited me out to dinner. They always grabbed a bite to eat after the support group session. I obliged and was grateful to have found a bunch of kindred spirits who were very inclusive. And even better, everyone in the group had become friends with each other. The group had originally started in their hospital (so they all had the same doctors), but then the hospital cancelled the support group sessions, so they asked Gilda’s Club if a support group could be hosted there. And Gilda’s Club agreed.

That’s how our paths crossed.

We all got along very well, and, over time, we all became close friends. I mean really close and connected – like the pieces of wood that form a tree trunk.
I felt the support group was my salvation. We called each other often and went clothing shopping, apple picking, out to eat, and so on. We even called each other when we were at the doctor’s office panicking. These people helped me through my divorce. I helped them with their problems. We all helped Faun when she had her recurrence.

But eventually something started gnawing at me.

I was a patient at a different hospital than the others. Every once in awhile, one of the group members would make a disparaging remark about my oncologist (based solely on my treatment protocol) or hospital and brag about her doctors and hospital, which were more well-known.

At first the comments were occasional, and I reminded the group that breast cancer treatment is different for each patient, depending on his or her needs. But my defense of my doctor and hospital was futile. Eventually, more and more individuals made harmful comments about my medical care and made me feel like an outcast.

So I tried a different approach: I asked them to kindly stop cutting down my doctors and hospital because it hurt me – it didn’t support me – when they said such harmful things.

The disparaging remarks abated for some time. But then they were back in full force. I would have distanced myself more for the group had it not been for my fragile status of “survivor” newbie and Faun, who was ill and whom we were all taking care of.

Then something happened that angered the group and turned them permanently against me.

Faun switched hospitals: from theirs to mine.

Unpleased with her medical care, she asked me if she could see my oncologist for a second opinion. I gave her his contact information, and she came back from that appointment resolved to have him as her oncologist.

The group took Faun’s “defection” to my hospital as a personal affront and allowed their petty pride to kill the friendship between them and me. The tree trunk had done the unthinkable: it unraveled.

The group members accused me of brainwashing Faun into ditching her doctor for mine. I told them that Faun was an adult and made her own decision, without my influence. Still, the group could not understand why Faun chose my oncologist over the ones at their hospital.

Whenever a support group member visited Faun at my, now her, hospital, the group member made a point of telling me of flawed services and the incompetent staff. The cut-downs of Faun’s medical care increased exponentially.

The group, in their righteous anger, started lashing out at me in other ways. One group member and my closest friend after Faun hurt me when she told me that my plans for adopting a baby were flawed, according to the group. I once told her that being a mother was my dream and though chemotherapy rendered me infertile, I could still realize that dream. Her response was, “Some dreams are not meant to come true.”

At that point, I lost it. I yelled at her, “You are not the one to tell me that. I have other friends and I don’t need you!” I hung up on her, and we have never spoken since.

When Faun died, the group blamed her death on my hospital, my oncologist, and, indirectly, on me. I was now permanently estranged from them.

To this day, I’m proud to say I do not even communicate with these individuals. I do regret that I had to endure such bullying during my first years after treatment and while Faun was going through her recurrence.

There is nothing really inherently wrong with support groups; the problem begins and hopefully ends when people – whether in support groups or not – try to dictate your reality.

Have you ever tried traditional support groups?

If not, why not? If so, please feel free to share your experience.


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44 Responses to The Support Group That Went Haywire

  1. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Oh, Beth, how wretched! I’m appalled at this. It must have been so hurtful…and to have them end up playing the blame game when Faun died is inexcusable. And they should have known better where the unpredictable beast that is cancer is concerned. What a nightmare that they expressed their own fear like this. *sigh* I just want to give you a huge cyber hug. This really made my heart ache.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Kathi,

      Thank you for the huge cyber hug. I felt it! I really appreciate your support and the support of the online community. You are right: cancer is an unpredictable beast, and it is so very complicated. Shame on these individuals for allowing their petty grievances to get them to abuse me. I’m so glad I have friends like you who totally get the complexity of cancer and don’t play the blame game.

  2. Susan had this to say about that:

    To start, I am appalled at the treatment your “friends” subjected you to at such a stressful time.
    No, I never wanted to join any local groups. As far as sharing my cancer with anyone, I didn’t need to, my mother told anyone who would listen, whether they knew me or not. I was furious. It felt like she was milking sympathy for herself from my breast cancer. I found support from Breast Cancer. Org., however. I found friends, information, comfort, and hope.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Susan,

      Thank you for your kindness.

      Now I’m appalled that you felt your mom was trying to get sympathy from YOUR cancer. The social dynamic from a cancer diagnosis is pretty complex, isn’t it?

      I’m so glad you did have a support system and received that comfort and hope.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  3. Renn had this to say about that:

    Beth this is awful! It’s also weird that I am reading this tonight b/c I’ve been working on a post about this same subject: support groups and the hits and misses.

    I’m SO sorry you had an ultimately unsupportive (and *really* icky) experience. WOW. It reminds me of junior high! I give you major props for holding your own and moving on and supporting your dear friend until the end. I’m so glad we have the blogosphere! {{{hugs}}}

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Wow, Renn, we’re on the same cyber wavelength! I can’t wait to read your post on the hits and misses of support groups.

      Yes, the experience was icky. I took great care of my dying friend, but things got so uncomfortable for me (not her; I didn’t tell her what was going on in order to spare her). I was caring for Faun, and I think the group was jealous of our friendship because they knew her longer, and she and I became closer than the group had hoped for.

      Ironically, the group members were so busy getting their feathers ruffled, while I was in the trenches, taking Faun to chemotherapy and doing my best to help her.

      I’m also glad we have the blogosphere. I’m so glad your path and my path crossed!

  4. Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) had this to say about that:

    I am hurting just reading this. There has been a similar theme about knowing when it is time to walk away in my own blog and some others recently and this fits in so well with that. Well done for cutting the ties and moving on with your life courageously and in the direction of your dreams xxx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Marie,

      Thank you so much for your support. I noticed that you needed to “walk away” and move on. There’s nothing wrong with that; we each have to march to our own drummer, as is often said. I’m also glad I cut the ties and got away from a group that was highly toxic to me.

      Thank you for reading, commenting, and including me in this week’s round-up.

  5. Susan Zager had this to say about that:

    Beth what a horrible experience with a group. It’s so interesting that happened to you at Gilda’s. I am disappointed that a group of women would behave like that when they are supposed to be supportive. I especially am appauled that they would blame her death on your oncologist when she was Stage IV. I began in a group at a great hospital in LA while I was going through chemo. All of us were with different oncologists and when someone had trouble with theirs we all chimed in to help-not tell them to leave from their treatment. One member did not get a call back from her oncologist at a very important time when she was being encouraged to do chemo for a second time, and the group leader called the oncologist and made sure that the oncologist called the person back. She luckily chose not to do the chemo again and all is well. After that group they had a group for when we were finished with primary treatment called “Looking Ahead” and I was so lucky to get in that group thanks to my close friend who said they only had room for one more person and to hurry up and get in the group! We met at UCLA and when it was time for the next group to start the leader told us we had to stop the group at UCLA to make room for the new group. We decided to meet at each others homes once a month and we still meet. My best friend who died from MBC was in the group and we were all supportive. We have another member who has metastatic cancer and we continue to meet always making sure we can accommodate her schedule. What a difference from yours.
    Meanwhile there was a time after I had my recurrence that I moved away from LA to a smaller place and I went to Gilda’s to try a breast cancer support group. It turned out they didn’t have one. Then I found a group that met after treatment and there were some supportive people but there was one girl that drove me batty. She always wore heavy cologne and kept telling me I was going to get lymphadema and I better wear a sleeve. She would show up late and sit next to me and the perfume almost made me gag on her. Luckily I was able to make it to my group in LA and kept my oncology there as I heard more horror stories in the smaller town. I am now back in LA and this group is so special to me. We always talk about how we never would have met had we bot had breast cancer in common. I am lucky I have this support as well as my support through social media. Meanwhile I send you extra cyberhugs and I hope you can erase that horrible experience. I am so thankful that we have crossed paths through this blogosphere!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Susan,

      I’m so very glad this support group is working out for you. Each support group is different. I should clarify: the disparaging comments didn’t happen during the group sessions at Gilda’s, just when we were doing our “friendship” kinds of activities outside of that group. What I found interesting was that the group really blurred the line between being a real support group and being friends.

      Of course, I am grateful to my many online friends for being wonderful supports to me!

      That one gal you refer to — Ms. Perfume — sounds like a real piece of work. There always seems to be one doozie in most groups.

  6. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I’ve struggled a bit to fit into my two support groups that I attend for various reasons and having been mulling over a blog post on this topic as well. I’ve noticed there are sometimes statements made by participants which sort of indicate sides are being taken between the two hospitals in the city where I attend both groups and where I was treated. But there has never been anything that even comes close to this. I’m so sorry for the bad behavior shown to you by those individuals. It’s terrible to be blamed in any way, shape or form for Faun’s death. Shame on them. Support should be just that – support. Sorry for all the anguish the experience must have caused you. Thanks for sharing about it. Hugs.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      I remember you saying that fitting into the support groups have been somewhat of a struggle for you. I would be curious to read a blog post from you on that topic.

      Support groups aren’t all bad; some are good. Maybe the right one for you is somewhere nearer than you think. It’s hard to fit into the group dynamic, with so many personalities, etc. I agree with you that the one thing that support groups should do is support each other.

      Mine went too far.

  7. Chandra had this to say about that:

    How thoroughly awful. And it was such a slow, enervating estrangement until the final drop of the guillotine blade. Fear–and the denial of it that causes this kind of behavior–is an odd thing. I am glad you are well past this. I have never gone to a support group. (I’m two years out from a mastectomy with the happy shield of a recurrence score of 4 held firmly before me. Guess I probably don’t want to be reminded that I could still well be in the 30% of “survivors” who experience recurrence.)

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Chandra,

      I like your reference of the “guillotine blade.” I think you are right about fear and denial causing so many problems. I think so many of the “scorekeepers” in my group were afraid that maybe their treatment wasn’t the best (not saying they had poor treatment), so they took it out on me. Still inexcusable, of course.

      I hope you are not in that 30% and hope you live for many years to come.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. Facing Cancer Together had this to say about that:

    That’s a crazy story, how horrible to have been blamed for what is so beyond your reach or control. Unfortunately people have a habit of forming groups/separating ourselves. I think online we even face this challenge – although, at least there’s greater options for navigation & conversation. So sorry that your close group of friends turned so very sour. And good on you for standing up for yourself, Beth. ~Catherine

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Catherine,

      Yes, it is awfully crazy. I wanted to write about this for some time, but I guess I was too nervous. Finally, I had to get it out. We do separate ourselves into certain cliques. I guess it’s just human nature.

      It’s OK for people in the cancer world — or any world for that matter — to have differing opinions. However, it needs to be respectful.

      This group were a bunch of bullies.

  9. Alli had this to say about that:

    Wow we all seem to be in the same train of thought! I joined a group here in my city hoping that I could get a better handle on how I was feeling and what I could learn from others. I went a few times but found them to be divided into cliques. I was the outsider I hadn’t paid my dues yet! So I didn’t fit into anywhere. I wanted to try some Reiki therapy, sorry you have to be here at least a couple of months and join other groups. Reiki you see was like a reward.The group was vey unwelcoming. Standoffish and just left you with a sour taste. There was a very nice man who was in the final stages of Prostrate Cancer he would be sitting in the coffee room by himself .. I went over sat beside him and he laughed if I was sure I “really” wanted to sit beside him.I didn’t get it he told me that he has been ignored no one speaks to him..even though he comes at least 3xs per week his wife bakes cookies. They feel uncomfortable because he is dying. See even though it was a CANCER Support group don’t dare suggest you are terminal it is an automatic cancellation of your Free Membership lol Beth like you I went back because I enjoyed his company and silly jokes. His wife was super sweet. He died a short time later. I started getting calls that I should participate in the social groups more. I didn’t want to finger pain Or did I want to play African drums.. I wanted to talk to women going through Breast Cancer I was scared I had no one.. I left the group just not for me or did I feel welcome! Blogging became my group. Over the last 4 years knowing people feeling a definite connection!! Getting to know you Beth with so many others . I always feel lucky that you have crossed my page and more.. Love Alli XXX

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Alli, yes, it seems this train of thought about support groups and cancer hierarchy is in the blogosphere right now.

      The man with prostrate cancer must’ve felt so alone. You are really wonderful for really seeing him as a fellow human being who needed some support. I feel sad for him for being ostracized by a group who thought they were holier than thou.

      There’s no room for cliques in a true support group. I wish more people would get that.

  10. Lisa Quintana had this to say about that:

    I haven’t had this happen….but we had a facilitator supplied by the ACS who was a hospital social worker. One of the basic rules of the group was we were NEVER to disparage the doctors, hospitals, or protocols we were all on. We could ask questions which might lead either the recipient to think of more or explore more fully, or the questioner. We were to be respectful and supportive….and I never knew that group to falter nor have the painful, unhelpful situation that you had occur.

    I’m glad you got out…I’m so sad you had to go through it. What a loss…for all.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Lisa,

      It sounds like your facilitator was so professional. Thank you so much for your empathy. It turns out that at Gilda’s, our facilitator was professional and kept the brutes I was dealing with at bay. The personal attacks came outside of the structured support group.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

  11. Jan Baird Hasak had this to say about that:

    I am so sorry about this, Beth. What a horrible thing to be betrayed by those who had once offered such sage advice and comfort to each other. When I was first diagnosed in 1996 I joined a hospital-facilitated support group for young women with breast cancer. Later we met at a member’s house, which was more personal. But as time went on, our interests diverged and we went our separate ways. I’m thankful there was no official falling out, as you experienced. More recently I joined a divorce support group, and made some terrific friends. But I no longer participate as I move beyond that phase in my life. This cancer blogging community we have is very special and that is where I now get my best support. Hugs, Jan

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Jan, you put it so well: that these individuals betrayed me. I think it’s in the natural order of things that people in support groups go their separate ways. Our lives are certainly in phases, aren’t they?

      I agree that the cancer blogging community is so supportive. I find that the process of writing and responding to others’ posts is very reassuring and comforting.

      Thank you for your words of wisdom, Jan.

  12. debby had this to say about that:

    I went to a support group. Unfortunately, it was a ‘surface’ group. No deep feelings discussed there. I became totally disenchanted w/ the idea of the whole thing when I realized that there were a number of survivors whose cancer was their whole identity. They were survivors, and they wanted to discuss the dramas of their cancer experience over and over again. I got the idea that they were not looking to move past this. The point came crystal clear to me as a fresh out of treatment patient. I said, “How long does it take to get over that fear that every ache and twitch is a cancer recurrence. A woman who breathless told us the exact same story every single meeting (“I had cancer, and I was told it was terminal, and by the grace of God and the doctors, I’m a 15 year survivor, NED) looked at me and said, “You never get over it. I have cried over cancer every single day. And everyone patted and consoled her. To myself, I thought, She was handed a miracle and is still crying every day 15 years later??!!! I watched people patting and hugging her and applauding her courage, and I thought, I do not want to be crying about cancer 15 years from now. I left the meeting and I never went back.)

    Your situation sounds down right malicious. Life’s too short to hang around those sorts of people. You did right to get out of Dodge. Even as cancer patients, we have the right to make our own choices. Faun made her own decisions, and it is not up to the rest of the group to second guess her (or your) choices.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Debby,

      Yes, I’ve been to a “surface” group where people just nodded and didn’t really share their innermost feelings. Perhaps that person who cries every day about her cancer needs professional help outside the realm of the support group. It sounds like she is having incredible difficulty going on with her life.

      Thank you for the kind, supportive words. I agree that life’s too short to be around toxic people. They were brutal when they should’ve been supportive.

  13. eileen@womaninthehat.com had this to say about that:

    Oh, Beth, I’m blown away by the behavior of your “support” group. It sounds like what happens when you cross breast cancer with junior high school. Seriously, the cliques! I had only an online support group. There was an in-person one I would’ve attended, but I worked part-time throughout treatment and didn’t have the energy to go after working during the day. Now I think that may have been a good thing. So sorry to hear of such an awful experience, but glad you’re not in the group anymore. I’m certain you deserve better.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Eileen,

      I also was blown away by this support-non-support group. Thank you for your kind words. Of course, not all support groups are created the same, but I think there can be an element of cliques in them. I really love the online support community, which is really so important to me.

  14. karen sutherland had this to say about that:

    dear beth

    i am so very sorry for what you and faun had to endure from people you counted on that ended up betraying you both. i am so glad you wrote this post, because many of us have struggled with similar situations and the pain that accompanies them.

    i’ve never been in a formal support group – both my husband and i have cancer, hugh, multiple myeloma, amd me ST IV metastatic breast cancer. hugh is in complete response, and i am NED. it has been an overwhelming 4 years, but we have been surrounded by legions of family, friends, wonderful neighbors, and many new friends who we now consider extended family.

    i thought my most important support group were my four sisters. but it turned out not to be so with three of them. they seemed to distance themselves from us, and when we spoke or e-mailed, they only talked about themselves and their lives, never seeming to care much about what we were going through. i just couldn’t accept that what they were really interested in was information that they created drama with. they were curious, which i mistook for concern,and then i realized they spent a lot of time talking amongst the 3 of them and sort of keeping score on who had the most, the latest information, then disecting it, and competeing with one another to be the first to announce the very serious aspects, like when hugh was having a stem cell trsnsplant and there was a chance he would not pull through, to other family and friends. i really loved each of them from the day they were born; all three live in differnt far away states, and i always did my best to take great interest in what was important in their lives, to express my affection for them, to champion their successes, and comfort them in any disappointments. i think i was in denial about the unrequited love for a long time, and it just seemed too painful to step away, to give up on 3 of the most important people i had cherished but as hugh approached his 2nd stem cell transplant and i was struggling to keep afloat with no real support from them, it became crystal clear it was never going to change. and from that day of the recognition of the truth, we are estranged. they learned of my diagnosis by something they read on someone’s FB page, and to this day, i have never received a phone call, e-mail, message, nothing. in retrospect, i suspect all three had tendancies towards being bullying mean girls, and don’t feel much love for themselves -so there was never much chance they could return unconditional love i had for them. and it’s turned out that my one remaining sister is my best friend, and that we are each other’s hearts. now we laugh and call ourselves “the picks of the litter” – our mom had 8 children. we give each other such joy, laughter, and big, big love. i am relieved that i finally had the courage to banish such destructive and dysfunctional people from my life, and am sure that the serenity and peace that decision has given me has helped me be a better person for myself as well as for others.

    i hope, beth, that you feel the full measure of empathy, support and love being lavished on you, and that telling your story has helped so many of your readers. i am new to your blog, and i am very happy i found you. you write beautifully and with such candor. and i want to also offer my sympathy to you for the loss of your dear friend, faun.

    love, XOXO,

    karen, TC

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Karen,

      It took me awhile to respond to this comment because it gave me great pause for thought. Thank you for feeling comfortable enough to share your situation on my blog. First of all, I’m glad you are NED and your husband is responding favorably to treatments.

      Secondly, I am so very sorry that three of your siblings distanced themselves from you and rejected you during such trying times. I totally get the rejection; I’ve been rejected by loved ones, too.

      I’m glad you have a wonderful sister you can confide in, and you two certainly are the “pick of the litter”! I like the way you put that! Cancer really reveals the truth: over who really cares about you and who really doesn’t.

      Thank you for your compliments about my writing. I’m glad you found my blog, and, yes, I do feel very supported through these comments and our wonderful online community. Thank you for your sympathy regarding Faun. I guess time really heals, but of course I’ll never forget her.

  15. Nancy had this to say about that:

    I tried 2 breast cancer support groups where I live and just didnt feel like I fit in. All the women were a lot older than I am and I kind of felt like all eyes were on me with my pink hair, tattoos, and nose ring. I needed something though, because my friends just didnt understand what I was dealing with.
    I found stupidcancer.org and traveled 2 hours for a meet up in Jacksonville. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere and people understood how I was feeling.
    I am so happy I found them. Even though I am the only one in the group with BC, we all have cancer and we all support each other. I will be attending the OMG2013 summit in Vegas and cant wait to meet more people that “get it.”
    I am sorry your experience was so horrible. There are ugly people in the world.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Nancy,

      I’m glad you found a support group that resonated with you. I can understand why you didn’t fit into those two support groups, being so much younger and all.

      I also didn’t fit into support groups because of my age. I was often the youngest of the support groups. In fact, of this nasty group I was part of, Faun and I were the babies. The others were all significantly older.

      Thank you for your support and for reading and commenting.

  16. Lisa (@cancerfree2b) had this to say about that:

    Oh Beth, I am SO Sorry! Like Marie said, it “hurts” reading this, I am in pain for you. How horrific. This is so wrong and I am so sorry that this happened to you.

    I have not had success with support groups . . . yet. I have attended a few and really just couldn’t find a way to fit in or get what I needed from the experience. I can’t say it was that way every time I went. But, for the most part, it was not a good experience for me. There always seemed to be a pervasive competitiveness present that I really didn’t like. If it wasn’t about having attended the group more regularly, or about having been in the group the longest, or about having never missed a meeting then it was about who knew the most about a particular thing. I found it exhausting at times. And, yes, I was also attacked. I was told I was making the wrong decision regarding my choice for reconstruction. A choice I did not make quickly or rashly and a choice that I struggled with and sought out multiple opinions about before coming to my OWN decision. When I made the mistake of sharing my decision with the group I was told I was making a huge mistake and that I would suffer as a result. In actuality – it was later determined that the “ring leader” of this attack had confused the procedure I was having with a different type of procedure.

    I can remember driving myself to one of the support groups that I attended and completely regretting it. It was a very, very hot summer day, I drove in my beat up, barely running car, with no air conditioning that I had during treatment (because back then I had to sell everything to simply survive, keep my health insurance, eat and pay my rent). It was truly a struggle to not only drive that day, but to endure the heat of the day and my vehicle.

    I went inside and at first was just grateful for the air conditioning. But, not long after I arrived I was met with insults over not having attended the group in so long, suggestions that I was not committed to the group and so on. And then what really did it for me was being told that I had let down a woman in the group who had recently died (since I had missed attending for the past couple of months – I had missed out on her last few visits). I was devastated. I knew that she had passed and her passing was one of the reasons I was going back to the group – to be with her friends and to seek support from the group. As we all know, the loss of someone we know to cancer is complicated – it is not only the loss of that person, but it is a reminder of what could very well happen to any of us.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your friend Faun and very sorry for the terrible treatment you received from the group.

    Thinking of you.

    XOXOXOX

    Lisa
    aka: cancerfree2b

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Lisa,

      Thank you for your sweet words of support. I think support groups don’t work for everyone. I agree that there is this competitiveness in groups oftentimes. Comparisons between doctors, treatments, and prognoses — and everything in between.

      I’m sorry you had to deal with that obnoxious ring leader who should’ve kept her mouth shut. These individuals are not your physicians, so they don’t have expertise in that arena.

      You have had your share of abuse from the “support” group, too. I hope you find comfort with the online community.

  17. AnneMarie had this to say about that:

    Oh, Beth…

    I have to slow down so I can catch up…. What a horrible experience and although I tried to read through the comments, I will come back to read them.

    Reading this brings tears to my eyes. Early today, there was something on twitter by a women’s group that I follow. Quote from Madeleine Albright:

    “There is a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.”

    I take that one step further…. with my own thoughts… and this is not to be vindictive, but mean people really do suck..
    I feel that there is a special corner in hell for women who *deliberately* undermine other women.

    This group was so wrong and I’m so sorry for all of your pain. But… now you have us.. and a beautiful little girl, too…

    xoxo
    AnneMarie

  18. Elizabeth J. had this to say about that:

    This is so sad, so hurtful. If we have cancer, we need to support one another, not tear each other down.
    I tried a support group in my small town. I did not fit in. I felt they didn’t approve of my “deserting” local small town oncologists before even trying them to go to the major university cancer research center my doctor had told me to go to. They were early stages, no metastatic recurrences, most had lumpectomies or immediate reconstructions, the few who had chemo had not been through the months and dosages I had. (And they seemed to think I would have had easier treatments, too, if I had just gone to the local doctors.) There was one other woman who seemed really uncomfortable who had been stage 3, but she seemed to think her problems fitting in were her. They had fashion shows, teas and laughing yoga.
    I ended up in a support group in another city, 45 minutes away. The group is mixed – long term survivors, newbies, early stage and stage 4s. We do fun stuff, too, but we get guest speakers and presenters on topics of need and interest, like lymphedema or dealing with effects of cancer on relationships.
    Sometimes you just have to look for what is best for yourself.

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Elizabeth, thank you for your support. It sounds like your first support group wasn’t very supportive at all. You say it best, “Sometimes you just have to look for what is best for yourself.”

      This is so true. Nobody is in any position to judge others’ medical decisions. One’s medical decision is a deeply personal one. You had every right to use the doctors you wanted when you wanted. No support group has the right to take that away from you.

      That group sounds toxic, and I’m glad you found a group that better meets your needs.

  19. Cynthia had this to say about that:

    Beth,
    Thank you so much for sharing. It was very comforting to know someone understands.
    I searched the Internet so many times looking for information pertaining to breast cancer treatment, while in a toxic relationship.
    Finally!!
    You really find out what a person is made of when you get sick. Seems like we get “cancer goggles” that help us see clearly.
    Congratulations on your new life!
    ~ C

  20. Jan Hasak had this to say about that:

    Hope to see a new blog post from you soon. You are very inspirational. xxx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you, Jan! Lately, I’ve had so many projects that have kept me from writing a new post, but I will be working on one soon.

      By the way, I find you inspirational, too.

  21. Dorry had this to say about that:

    It’s so hard to keep on sometimes when this sort of thing happens. It’s hard to feel isolated. I’m sorry this happened.

    And that’s one lucky kid!

    Kudos and love to you!
    xoxoxox

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Dorry,

      Thanks for all your support and kind words. I’m lucky to have found people like you in the blogosphere.

      I’m pretty lucky to have found my daughter!

      Hugs,

      Beth

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