Cancer Ghosting

What does Cancer Ghosting mean?

Leaving someone who has been told they have cancer

When a person diagnosed with cancer feels left out or ignored by their friends and family, this is referred to as ‘Cancer Ghosting’. For instance, if someone is undergoing chemotherapy and spending significant time in the hospital while their loved ones are busy with their routine lives, that person may feel ‘cancer ghosted’.

There can be several reasons why cancer ghosting happens. One reason can be that the friend or relative of the cancer patient might not be very close to them, thus making it easy for them to ignore the patient. Another reason can be the fear or discomfort of not knowing how to support the patient during this challenging period, leading to cancer ghosting.

In some situations, cancer ghosting can happen unintentionally. Someone may be preoccupied with their own responsibilities like caring for children, managing work, or handling household chores, and may unintentionally neglect to visit, call or even send a card to the patient.

The term ‘cancer ghosting’ originated from the concept of ‘ghosting’, but when it started being used is not clear. It became popular in 2022 as a way to describe the feeling experienced by many cancer patients. It’s mainly used in online spaces such as social media and cancer forums.

Example for using ‘Cancer Ghosting’ in a conversation

Hey, haven’t heard from you in a while. How are you doing?

I’ve been feeling a bit down lately. I think I’m experiencing cancer ghosting.

What’s that? I’ve never heard of it before.

It’s when people abandon you after being diagnosed with cancer. It’s like they disappear.