When you first receive that paralyzing breast cancer diagnosis, you are vulnerable, scared, and you literally and figuratively are brought to your knees. As the news soaks in and you begin to share, it’s just a matter of time before the advice starts rolling in. People make well-meaning comments that often come from a place of sadness, discomfort, and fear. There isn’t anyone who means to offend, frighten, or irritate; but some advice will be great, and a lot of it you simply need to ignore.
The best place to vent and get support and information, is from someone who has been through it and ‘get’s it’.
What I think: How the f*#k do you think I’m feeling… I’ve just been hit with the Big-C diagnosis, and while I’d love to debate the latest nail fashion, exercise fad or skinny jeans, I now have to figure out how to stay alive!
What I think: I know you mean well, but come to think of it, now you bring up God, I’m wondering if He somehow did this to me! I’m sitting here with tumors in my body and might die… it’s a lot to f-ing handle so please don’t discount my primal fear with a cliche.
What I think: I’m sorry… did you not hear me… I’ve got f-ing cancer! This is causing me and my family insane levels of stress! This is not helpful at all to me and I know you mean well, but I’m having a really difficult time staying positive when all I can think about is my hair falling out, my boys growing up without a mom, and how I need to have my breasts cut off.
What I think: Yes! And I’m freaking the f*#k out thinking that I’m going to die too! There is no GOOD kind of cancer! There’s no soldier fighting a war who wants to hear about the number of casualties that happened in the next town. I get that you’re trying to make me feel better and make a connection, but this honestly is freaking me out. I promise you, your friend who died of cancer didn’t die because she/he decided that she/he didn’t want to ‘kick cancer’s ass’. Just like there’s no guarantee I won’t die because ‘I’m a fighter’. It’s not helpful!
What I think: I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I’ve been desperate for a boob job my whole life. Have I shared with you my plastic surgery dreams (for the record if I were to get plastic surgery I’d get my knee fat sucked out!!!) My double mastectomy is nothing like your fun little perky boob job. The expanders are violently painful, I have two plastic bags sitting on my chest that I can’t feel, and they occasionally make farting sounds if I move my arms the wrong way in yoga class. My skin is so thin that it ripples over my implants if I bend over…not to mention I sometimes burn my chest in the shower since I can’t feel how hot the water is. F*#k the new boobs!
What I think: Probably not… I know studies show some things link to certain cancers… but guess what… I’ve already got f-ing cancer! I’m stressed, these things make me happy, and I’m having a really crap week. I know I shouldn’t be imbibing, but I don’t need you to call me on it… sit and drink tequila with me without judging, and help me feel ‘normal’ for a few minutes. Please.
What I think: Every cancer survivor lives with a recurrence risk, and that number varies from person to person. So, I’m all good unless those rogue f-ing cancer cels decide to take a tour of my body again. And if they do, it isn’t because I did or didn’t do something, it’s because those are the cards I’ve been dealt.
As we approach October, and the world seems to be filled with pretty, happy, pink bows. Please understand. For many of us it brings back some really painful memories such as: stress, pain, PET scans, biopsies, fear, MRIs, X-rays, anger, radiation, chemotherapy, multiple surgeries, IVs, blood tests, worry, physical therapy, confusion, sadness, loneliness, reactions to medication, endless check-ups, anxiety, bone scans, depression, insomnia, and CT scans. In fact, my oncologist warned me that October would be the hardest month of the year. It is for all of her patients.
But the truth is, everyone is different and every cancer is different, and you can’t really say the wrong thing if you speak from the heart with love. Thank you for caring about me. ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
I’m a travel and health writer, digital and brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two active boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising teenage boys, family life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.