I blogged last year about the different types of people I met in my battle with cancer. The blog was titled “Living with Cancer – Understanding Sycophants” and you can read it HERE. It details the types of people who come into your life thinking they are helping you but are actually emotionally harmful to you.
I have added a new type of person to the list of people to watch out for. This person is the “Remora Suckerfish.”
The Remora is a person who latches on to you and leeches the life from you while thinking they have created a nurturing “connection” with you. There is no connection – they are sucking you dry!
This actually happened to me last week. I posted a Tweet about my latest checkup – a 3-month exam by my surgeon – when a “friend” on Facebook contacted me and made a “connection.” This person latched on to me, refused to let go, and proceeded to tell me about all her friends and family who have had cancer and died from it.
Somehow the fact that I had cancer and she knew people who had died or were dying from cancer created a connection. She latched on, and proceeded to tell me in gory detail how much she “understands” what I am going through – all the while stating over and over again about how many people she knows who have died from cancer.
She meant well – I know – her heart WAS in the right place. She has her own pain she is trying to share as well because she is dealing with the loss of someone she loves – but I don’t think she realized what an impact it had on me. I don’t think she realized how much it drained me to read it.
So while I don’t fault her, I do have a few points to the Remora Suckerfish out there:
- As a cancer patient still battling my disease I do not need to know about how many people you know who have succumbed to the disease. It does not help my state of mind. It does not make me feel “lucky.” It makes me angry that you feel I should somehow respect you or connect to you – it annoys me that you think you are special because you know people with cancer. Cancer may be a tie that binds – but it doesn’t bind me to you.
- You don’t know what I feel. Just because you know people with cancer does not mean that you know what it is like to have cancer. While I appreciate that you feel like you have more intimate knowledge than the average layperson – you still have less knowledge of it than I do. It’s very much like saying “I’m not racist – I know lots of black people.” Great – good for you – you still don’t know what it’s like to be black.
- Just because you know people with cancer and have had the unfortunate experience to have lost friends with cancer does not make you MY friend. I truly wish you had never had to experience the effects of cancer, but that’s not a shared experience for you and I to bond over. See, I haven’t died from cancer. Pretty obvious when you think about it, huh?
I’ll reiterate what I said in my last post: It’s really important when dealing with cancer to find the right type of people to associate with. There are a lot of people who claim they are supporting you (and actually believe it) but they are not. Find your real supporters and surround yourself with them – and always let them know how much you care and appreciate them.
Don’t be a Remora Suckerfish, people, or any other type of harmful “supporter” mentioned in my previous post. A cancer patient doesn’t need anything other than love and friendship.
I am not my cancer. One day, my cancer will be gone. You don’t have to try to find a common bond with my cancer – find a common bond with me.