I saw a few threads going around this week about some of the more tactless things people say to cancer patients. Since the PSA apparently needs to be made, I’m taking the liberty of posting it. While it’s a numbered list, it’s really no particular order.
- “Oh, well at least it’s the good kind of cancer, right?” Lymphoma, unlike pancreatic cancer, has a very good 5 year survival rate. However, can we all agree that all cancer is awful? And that when you hear that you’ve got the c-word, it doesn’t feel very good despite what the survival rates say.
- “I know what you’re going through, I can a root canal once and it was TERRIBLE.” Never ever say this, unless you went through chemo. And even then, it’s a loaded thing to say. Nothing will make me look like this: faster than hearing someone say this with a straight face on.
- “My brother’s mother-in-law’s postman’s accountant had cancer…” Really? And you were totes there the whole time? Somehow, I doubt it.
- “…and s/he died a horrible lingering painful death.” You would be surprised how many people told me about a loved one who had cancer and died and how terrible it was. Cancer isn’t always a death sentence but it often times is. There’s no reason to confirm my worst fears for me.
- “Oh. That sucks. Anyway, about me and my petty problems…” While I was going through chemo, I would often times welcome hearing about my friends “petty” problems because it was a nice reminder that life goes on. Not every conversation had to revolve around Deep and Philosophical Talks About Life. However, there were some folks who just can’t see past the tip of their nose and really listen to what others had to say. Those folks quickly vanished when the going got tough. And that’s OK, because there were other people who stepped up and I cherish them for that.
The take away here is to think before you speak. If you don’t know what to say sometimes all that’s required is a heartfelt, “I’m sorry you have to go through this.” Come back on Thursday when I’ll post what you OUGHT to say.