Survey Says….

I know you’ve all been anxiously awaiting the results of my not-quite-scientific research project: The Most Insensitive (or just plain stupid) Thing Someone Has Said to Me About Cancer.  We’ve got some doozies in the bunch.  A couple of them made me say to myself, “Dang!  And I thought I’d heard some rude comments!”  You’ll notice that I’ve organized the responses into four categories.  Those of you who are looking for the right things to say to the cancer girl in your life might want to make a note to steer clear of anything that would fall under these.  Otherwise you may one day see some stupid thing you said posted here in a future installment.

It’s all about me ~

Sure, you’ve got the cancer, but what about my needs?

After someone had gotten their income info for tax season, they said,  “I made less money this year compared to last year—-it must have been all the days off I took to help you I didn’t realize I lost that much.” (Needless to say for the $ amount they said  they would have had to help me for the equivalent of 60 days. And I know they took off like 5-6) 

One of my friends, who I love dearly…once said to me when spouting off about her mid-life crisis “You don’t really know what it’s like to feel old and like you only have SO many years left to do the things you want.”  She said this to me, sitting on my couch as I stared back at her with bald chemo head. 

After I’d been through two lumpectomies, chemo and a mastectomy, a lady I know found a lump and had a surgical biopsy.  She found out it was benign, and when I saw her, I said, “That’s great news.”  “Yeah,” she replied, “but I just hate to have a scar.”  Okay, let me get this straight: you don’t have cancer, and you’re complaining? To me?  About a scar on the breast that you still have?

With friends like you, who needs Adriamyacin?

When I was first going through chemo, one person said… (they had just heard I was diagnosed) “I can’t believe you have cancer… I would think you would look sickly and thin and you don’t, in fact you have gained weight. You should really try and eat healthy now that you have been diagnosed that will make a big difference.”  Breast cancer or no breast cancer no woman ever wants to hear that she’s gained weight!

“You look really great, you must not have had the real chemo.”

“At least you caught it early.”  Really?  My surgeon said this thing has probably been growing for over 5 years.  Or did you just mean before it killed me?

I was just glad when people said s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g.  What I hated was the crickets chirping in the background uncomfortable silence when I told people that I had been diagnosed. 

You must have done something~Because otherwise, why would you have it when I don’t?

“How did you get it?”  I kid you not. And this, from a woman with a master’s degree who once called herself my friend.

Upon hearing about my diagnosis, a woman pulled me aside and told me all about how she’d just read on the internet how deodorant causes breast cancer—the implication being that I have only myself to blame.

More than once I was asked, “Do you smoke?”

Should I make fried chicken, or pot roast for your funeral dinner?

It wasn’t what was said but what wasn’t said.  The looks I got from some had already written me off.  Their face said loud and clear, “Ah, she was such a nice person too.  I really liked her”. 

When a co-worker of my husband heard about my cancer, he said to hubby, “Oh man.  There’s not really anything they can do for that, is there?”

From an acquaintance: “So-and-so told me you have breast cancer.  My aunt had breast cancer, too.  She died last year.”

The one that sticks in my mind is an encounter with one of the facilities staff who, after I told him about my diagnosis, asked me, “you aren’t going to die are ya?”  This may sound strange, but up until that point the possibility of dying had never crossed my mind.