I have been debating on writing about this topic for a while, but I feel at this point I can finally address it. The list of things not to say to those going through cancer treatments. As with anything, point of view is a so subjective. However, I have found well meaning people saying things that can hurt, completely unintentionally.
So my thought is, if I put these things out there, maybe it can help others. Nothing is meant as a slight against those who have said these things. Trust me, I understand only kindness was meant by these statements. So here goes the list:
1. ” I know _____ and they died of that disease”. So empathy is completely the goal of this statement. But, during this time of struggle and realization of a lack of immortality, additional reminders are not necessary.
2. “So-and-so had a much easier time with treatments. Wonder how that happened.” Personally I feel like I should handle treatments better then I do, but I do not get a say on it. A lot of the time, I feel like a wimp for not being able to keep working. But, with the chemo fog and the fatigue, I know it was a right decision. But there are many times when I wish I was able to just continue living a normal life.
3. “You are a 1/4, 1/2, etc. way through your treatment!” I realize this feels counter to how everyone else thinks, but with chemo, each treatment gets harder. With each treatment, it gets worse. So when you are looking down a barrel of however many treatments, a countdown seems very daunting. Now, with that said, I am now starting to celebrate that I only have to go through this 5 more times. So when the patient is starting to rejoice at the shortening amount of treatments, feel free to state the above, but wait for their cue. Personally in the beginning the countdown didn’t go fast enough and any reminder of how much more I had left made me feel daunted. This is so counter to everything else, I realize that, but chemo goes counter to about everything else.
So this was just a list of 3 little comments that I heard many times, and each time was with love. Again, and I can not state this strong enough, I realize no pain was meant with the statements. They were statements made to try and empathize or fill that awkward conversation where no one knows what to say.
So at the end of the day, the compassion and thoughtfulness are what really matters. The hugs and “let me know what I can do to help” mean the world. I love all of those that have stood around and supported me. Thank you for everything.