I do talk to a lot of other people with cancer, and it never seems to shock me when they have had people who ask them stupid questions or make insensitive comments when really that’s the last thing any of us want to hear. So, I’ve decided that today I will make a list of my personal ten worst and most unwelcome comments and questions. I’m doing this in the hopes that I’ll have less of them, or at least people might put a bit more thought into what they say to a cancer patient.
10. “You look great”
I had been in my night-gown for two days and hadn’t had my bath yet because of the surgical drains.
9. “Now you can have the boob job you wanted”
I don’t think a mastectomy counts as a boob job, especially when you don’t have reconstruction.
8. “Did the doctor tell you how long you have left?”
Yes but I couldn’t find the expiration date stamped on me so I’ll just wait it out.
7. “My (fill in the blank) had cancer… but she died”
Really? Most of the stories that people tell me about someone else end that way.
6. “Take the chemo my friend had, it worked great for her”
No two cancers are alike, so your medical thoughts on other people’s treatments are never ok!
5. “I had( fill in the blank), so I know how you feel”
Don’t get me started on all the ways in which you do not know how I feel.
4. ” Quit playing the victim”
This was from a member of my family after I said that I was too tired after going out to dinner to go see a movie. These are the worst kind of comments.
3. “You should change your diet and quit smoking”
If you think that after being told that I’m kinda screwed that I’m giving up my favorite foods and what’s ultimately worse, my cigarettes you’ve lost your mind!
2.”You have breast Cancer..is that right?”
This was a stranger in a parking lot of WalMart. My response was, No I was in a horrible motorcycle accident and laid it down on the right, took off half my body. (It was none of her damn business!)
1. “You’re not having chemo so don’t have breast cancer anymore…right?”
Let me clarify this one. Once you have advanced Breast Cancer there is no cure! At best, you might be able to slow it down for a while.
I really do try to be sensitive to the fact that when these comments come out of people’s mouths that they are usually just trying to make me feel better about my situation. However, if people would just give themselves a little time to think first they might see that they are probably doing more harm than good, especially if you’re talking to a stranger. I certainly don’t want people to stop asking me questions if they really just are curious, but if it at least was started with ” May I ask you a question that I don’t know if it’s ok to ask?” I would gladly let them off the proverbial hook if it did come out as being insensitive. I’ve had very close friends and family ask me questions like these, but they also made sure before asking anything that I was ok with whatever question came out of their mouths. They took an extra minute to make sure that I knew that it was an important question to them, and If I didn’t want to talk about it that was ok too. It’s such a simple thing to consider the other person first. My thoughts are this, just read my list and realize that there are women in this world who when asked any of these questions or received any of these comments would be broken by the insensitive way in which they were asked. Even if it’s someone close to you…just ask first. They might just say that it’s ok, but at least you won’t be catching them off guard. Really we (breast cancer patients) have enough to think about without trying to process anything else.