It has been very interesting to have my new diagnosis and run into people in the community at events. I have had the strangest things said to me. I will list some of them here in efforts to help people communicate with folks who have a difficult diagnosis. First I will list some of the things said:
1. “OH, I thought you had passed” My common response to this one is, “well thanks for coming to my memorial”. Yes, this has actually been said to me 3 times. This one is obviously nothing that you want to say to anyone. The first time someone said it, I felt like I had been slapped. My new oncologist actually said this to me. Very bad form.
2. “You look awesome for a dead woman walking” This one is funny when I say it (jokingly)but not so funny when others say it. It hurts me a bit and I don’t see myself as a dead woman walking. I see myself as a person living with and managing a cancer diagnosis.
3. “How are you really doing”? This one bothers me because I am fairly transparent. If I was not doing well, I would be pretty vocal about it. One of the things that I try to strive to be is authentic. I am not much of a complainer and I am the cock-eyed optimist so unless things are tragic, I will be focusing on what is right in my life, not what is wrong.
4. “OH, you are out”? I am not bed ridden. I am still very active. You may run into me shopping, at the gym etc. I have pulled out of many community activities mostly because I have to steel myself against the things people say and the pity that some people exude. Let me just say this here. I hate pity. I am not pitiful, I am OK. I am doing really well and I appreciate genuine concern but I hate pity!!
5. “OH, wow You still have hair”? Yes, I am not doing chemo or whole brain radiation. Cancer does not equal no hair. Many people who are in the midst of cancer do not lose their hair.
That is a stereotype. And although, I have been bald before. I have a healthy head of hair now.
I know folks are well-meaning and most do not know what to say and do. I have a suggestion. Why don’t you just treat me like Dawn. Treat me as you always have. I don’t mind genuine inquiries about my health. I am happy to answer any questions that you may have, especially if you want to know what I am doing and you want to pass my name or information to someone else so that I may help or encourage them.
I believe I am still here to help others and I have done much research, scientific research into the routine and regime I am using daily. I am always happy to talk about that.
I love people and I know most of them mean well. These are just some guidelines when conversing with me or anyone who has cancer.