Ground Rules

We’ve had the discussion before about how cancer girls get really tired of talking about cancer.  Folks mean well, but they don’t take into account that everyone is asking the same questions, and a cancer girl’s life turns into a sort of round, if you will.  Like Row Row Row Your Boat.  Only instead of the usual lyrics…“Row row row your boat, gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream” it goes more like “So, so, how are you? You’re so very brave, my 105 year old aunt just died of cancer, you’ve got a foot in the grave.”  And so it goes, over and over, on and on. 

 And of course, a cancer girl is giving the same answers over and over as well.  It goes something like this, “Hey there I’m just fine, the margins were all clean, starting chemo in a week, feeling mighty keen.”  But all your audience hears is cancer blah blah, chemo blah blah blah, so what happens next is that those people go sing the song with other people, except they fill in the blanks with the worst case scenario. “Hey Madge, did you hear?  Moody’s all but dead.  I heard the cancer’s in her spleen, so she’s just shaved her head.”

 I was reminded of this again recently when a relative of Hubster’s coworker was diagnosed.  Hubster came home from his job at ACME and reported to me that he’d heard that she was really bad off, one foot in the grave, the usual stuff.  I just looked at him, rolled my eyes and said, “You know how that goes.”  Aside from irritating the snot out of me, it really makes me wonder what all the employees of ol’ ACME were saying about me back when I was first diagnosed.  (I’m betting I have one reader who could fill me in, but I won’t put her on the spot.)

 But there is something that bugs me more than the Row row row your boat sing-a-long, and the worst case scenario telephone game.  It is when someone interrogates my child about my medical condition.  You know, this is one of those things that should just not even have to be said, and you’d think most people would have the sense to figure it out: It is not cool to snatch my kid out of her peaceful existence and back into the scary land of your mom’s got The Cancer.  You want to be all up in my business?  Then you come to ME.  Don’t corner Mini Me and ask her if “they think they got it all” 15 months after my mastectomy, when my hair’s grown back and life is pretty much back to normal for her.  Maybe you’re genuinely concerned, and maybe you’re just nosey—I don’t really care which it is—neither one of them gives you the right to do that to Mini Me.  So, next time, find some other way to make conversation, or as Cowboy Bob used to say, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”