The Darnedest Things People Tell You When You Have Cancer
I am a fan of David Letterman’s Top 10 List. So, I have taken the liberty of compiling the Top 10 List of the darnedest things people have told me when they’ve found out I have Cancer. These comments in no way reflect the overwhelming love, prayers. carrot cakes, flowers, angels, books, warm visits, wisdom, guidance, coaching and friendship I have received from all of you. You have kept me courageous and hopeful in this battle and I know that with your support and God’s light, I will see this through successfully. Cancer can be beaten!
In the spirit of humour, I had to share the doozies with you as well. So, here goes… (drum roll, please)…
#10: “My cousin (grandfather, cousin’s brother/uncle/mother/far-flung relative, second-cousin removed, neighbour, best friend, etc.) had cancer ……. (followed a little later by) …. and they died”
This is usually the first thing that comes out of people’s mouths. Everyone wants to relate to the situation. But it’s tough to relate to your story when I am doing my best to remain positive and fight my cancers. Also, I find it a downer when I hear about people who did not make it. It is not helpful.
#9. “How could this happen to someone like you (or, as nice as you; or who has done so much for the community)?”
Usually, this is meant really well. But when I hear this, I want to scream. Cancer does not discriminate! It chooses good people and bad people; young people and older folks, athletes and couch potatoes; people who eat healthy foods and those that live for Mickey D’s. This, of course, is a subject of another blog!
#8: ”This is just a test” or along the same lines, “God is just testing you”
Usually this is said in a very philosophical tone, and I’m almost scared to ask the person what it means. I think of God as a merciful being, and the thought that he might be testing me does not sit very well with me. I feel better when I contemplate that “the Will of God will never take me to where the Grace of God will not protect me”. That’s my faith.
#7: “How long do the doctors say you have to live?”
I find it so interesting how people can come out and ask a question like that. But it has happened to me more than once — recently by a cab driver who was driving me to the hospital. Enough said.
#6: “At least you can now take time off work and concentrate on yourself”
Ouch! That’s a tough comment for me to handle. If I had a chance to go back to work, I would — in an instant! No thinking required! No contest!
#5: “You might as well enjoy your life now . . . “
Why? I’m assuming you mean, because I “don’t have long to live”. And every time someone says this, I think to myself, but I have lived fully before I knew of the cancer, I squeezed every moment out of life. And I will continue to do so. And then I resolve that I will prove the naysayers wrong and live a long, healthy, productive life.
#4: ”We all have to go someday”
This comment just saddens me because I am not thinking of going anywhere, anytime soon.
#3: ”You have to account for whatever you have created in your past life”
Sometimes followed by “There is no choice.” I am not sure how this comment helps except that it makes me want to cry. Sheesh ! I have trouble keeping track of what I have done in this life, let alone what I may have done in my past lives.
#2: “You look great! (for someone who has cancer)”
Cancer does interesting things to the body. I have noticed how sometimes my face is puffy because of extreme doses of prednisone, sometimes it is sallow and painfully thin because it is hard to eat. Wrinkles have appeared where there were none. It takes effort to look and feel good when your body is fighting so hard. And the last thing you want is for someone to make you more self-conscious about how you look. Particularly when you are your own biggest critic and the mirror is showing you subtle and not-so-subtle changes that come from the ravages of cancer.
(Drum Roll)…. And the #1 darnedest thing someone said to me when I told them about my cancer:
#1: “I know how you feel. My dog just died of cancer”
This was the dooziest of the doozy comments I got from a server at a local breakfast establishment. I was so speechless, I just looked at her. Since then, this comment has provided me with many moments of merriment! And I continue to be good friends with this server who sneaks me a free milkshake every time she sees me (because her dog died of cancer…).
This is my list of doozies. If you’ve been through the journey and have other doozies to share, keep them coming so we can all learn together…..