Monday, September 22, 2008

What to say to cancer patients...

I'm going to make this a running feature -- of course, this is all from my own peculiar perspective, so adapt as you will.

1) I love it when people offer to do specific things. A very sweet friend offered to bring over dinner. Another offered cat box cleaning, and another has made a standing offer for rides to doctor's appointments/tests etc. I haven't neede their help, but I might not have even considered asking for one of those things in the 'let me know if there is anything I can do for you' category-- and, if I didn't have those things handled I might not have even realized those things would have made my life easier until they suggested it. I really am fortunate to have the basics under control for now, as Hubby and Super-Mom are taking good care of me.

2) Ask about how we are doing -- and be ok with either details or a quick "things are fine" or "a bit tired, but otherwise coping". Sometimes we need a sympathetic ear and other times we don't want to get into the details -- we'll let you know which is which.

3) Don't call me a hero for living. I'm doing chemo, I have no hair and one boob. All but the boob will be resolved sooner or later -- I'm not a hero, at least not yet. If things get much, much, much worse and I live to be 109, then you can dub me a hero. I'm not a hero for working during chemo -- most breast cancer patients work nearly their normal schedule. I'm just doing my thing and dealing with the inconvenient stuff -- you do your thing and have challenges too, and neither of us are heroes.


Andrea said...

That's fair enough about #3 - my aunt who had breast cancer did NOT want to be called "a survivor" because she didn't feel like she almost died. Still, don't forget to let people praise you for your strength. You may feel like you're doing what many people would - but that doesn't mean that many people wouldn't exhibit grace and strength in a strange situation that deserves acknowledgment. You do!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for writing these kinds of posts. A person very close to me has cancer and absolutely. refuses. to. talk. about. it. at. all. I definitely agree that it's her choice to stay mum, and I try to respect it (I don't, always, bad me :-( ). But it does make it hard on people who love her and genuinely want to help! So, thank you for the perspectives. I appreciate it.