Here’s a list of the things that I absolutely hated to hear when I was first diagnosed with cancer.
1. “How are you?” (In the very concerned, dramatic tone)
How do you think I am?! THIS SUCKS! It is question that does not have an honest answer and if I were to really tell you how I feel, you will be sorry. Because I wanted to scream, “Are you blind, def, or dumb?! Cancer sucks and I feel like shit all the time.”
2. “Did you go to the doctors? Are you getting your treatments?”
Yes, of course I am…do you not see my bald head? And I probably will be going to the doctors the rest of my life. So stop asking.
3. “Is there anything I can do for you?” (in a very overly concerned / almost pitiful tone)
If you can heal cancer, go right ahead. If not, well, there’s not much you can do to fix me. Can’t you see my needs and respond? Cancer is so destabilizing and overwhelming that the last thing we want to feel is vulnerable and helpless. So please, step it up and help without being told.
4. “I hear that mushrooms heal cancer, eating greens heals cancer, this holy oil heals cancer, this novena heals cancer…”
Cancer is overwhelming and there is so much information to process. Being bombarded with miracle cures does not help. It is overwhelming. Please be patient and let me be guided to the healing path that I need to follow. I am sure all the advice is good but it can feel like too much.
5. “I hope you will be okay, but I heard that so and so had cancer and they died.”
Please do not share any cancer-gone-wrong stories with a cancer patient. We know we are dying; we do not want to hear about another person’s death story.
6. Don’t gasp and freak out at the cancer news.
This does not help. I hated that in many occasions I had to take care of the person that I was sharing my health issues with. They got so scared and overwhelmed that I ended up telling them, “it is okay, no worries, have faith I am going to be okay.” How does that happen? I am the one with cancer and I am the one making it okay for someone else about my cancer.” Weird!
7. “Will you get a mastectomy or get your ovaries removed?”
This is a very personal inquiry. This is not easy for a woman to share flippantly. These are sexual organs and very private. Unless I was extremely close to the person asking, I did not want to share this personal information. So please don’t ask.
8. “Are you OK?”
NO, why ask what is clear…No, I have cancer, of course I am not OK.
9. Hold off on the self help and cancer books.
Thank you, I know you want to help, but too many books on cancer and healing made me feel broken. Get me funny novels, movies, and things that make me laugh. Help me get my mind off the this shitty topic.
10. And the Herbal TEAS
Easy on the tea gifts…I still haven’t gotten through all of my herbal teas and I have been Cancer-free 5 years. This was really sweet and thoughtful. Thank you.
Basically, don’t taken any of our moods personally. We are scared and angry. So, sometimes your gestures will be greatly appreciated and other times we’ll just want to scream!
Pretty much all you can say is Cancer SUCKS!
And don’t tell me to fight the fight! Because I lost.
My healing is not in my hands; it is fate, life and in God’s hands.