Tuesday, March 18, 2014
What NOT to say to someone with Cancer
I lost a friend this past weekend to cancer. He had Leukemia. He found out after I found out about my cancer and went into remission before I did. But he was not a candidate for Stem Cell Harvesting or a candidate for a Bone Marrow Transplant from a donor. He was told in December that he was out of options and he was out of remission. We would sit together on Sunday and share a blanket to stay warm. We called each other from time to time to check in and we went to the same Norris Cotton building for treatments so we saw each other there as well, each of us having chemo. He wished me well as I was getting ready for my Harvesting. Cancer patients share a special bond. I know we did!
I remember talking to him about what others say to us without a clue as to how it sounds. Some were funny while others sounded not so much.
Here is a partial list of what we have been told or asked: Please don't say these things to other cancer patients...
1. "WOW you don't look sick!" I'm glad that I don't look sick so thank you but one day someone is going to tell me this and I will just loose it and say: "Thank you, we do make the best looking corpse you know."
2. "I've never heard of that cancer, is it one of the bad ones?" Is there a good one? For the person who was just told they have cancer, it's bad! It's the worst kind of bad! Yes, all cancer is bad!
3. "My (Grandfather, Aunt, Sister,___(fill in the blank) died from that." Unless the story has a happy ending, don't start with this. I've been thinking a lot about death. I really don't want to hear your death story thank you.
4. "How long do you have?" I've actually turned over my foot and looked at the bottom of it and said "No expiration date there, don't know."
5. "You're lucky, your cancer will not leave a scar" Well not one that you will see on the outside, but there are plenty on the inside.
6. "I thought Chemo was suppose to help you lose weight." I did answer this one with "Thanks for letting me know that, I'll be sure to tell my doctor that his chemo isn't helping me lose weight."
7. "Better you than me, I couldn't handle this. You are such an inspiration" I said "Thanks, glad I could help." I've never so admired anyone that I was glad for their misfortune because it made me feel better.
So I celebrate my friends finishing the race, his graduation to Heaven where he has a new body, a new life, a new health. He also has no more silly statements or questions to deal with. I know he is laughing over the things we talked about. I also know that I will miss him!