But I Don’t Know What to Say to Someone With Cancer?

A friend forwarded the following the most excellent article http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/12/person-cancer.html about what to say to someone with cancer. The author’s sentiments totally resonated with me. Take into consideration that the person with cancer writing the article is one of the Sopranos (Stage IV) and I’m just Stage I (which is one step worse off than Stage 0 but no where near Stage 4). I offer these ruminations not because anyone has offended me. It would be nearly impossible, unless you’re asking me in a group about my menstruation cycle in a serious tone, to offend me. Making fun of me, on the other hand, is always fair game no matter how big the crowd. Me being me, though, I have to put my own spin on the matter.
what to say

Here is my own list of What Not to Say to Someone With Cancer:

  • You look tired” or more directly, saying anything with the look on your face where you lower your eyes into a squint like you’re constipated with a voice you would use to talk to an amputee kitten. Poor little kitten. I don’t feel sorry for myself, so you shouldn’t either.
  • Things could be so much worse!” Yes, I’m aware. It can always be worse (think of the poor kitten). Cancer is not the worst thing that has ever happened to me, but it’s up there. This statement makes me feel like a whiny putz.
  • Let me know if you need anything.” I’m positive I’ve said this very thing to people with health or other issues, and I know I meant it kindly and sincerely. The problem is that people in my position don’t know what they need most of the time. When I figure it out I’m too embarrassed to ask for it. It’s much easier to accept a specific offer (“I’m on my way to the grocery. What can I get you?”) than for me to call up a friend with two children of her own and ask her to detach from her already hectic life and run to my house to mop my kitchen floor because my arm won’t bend.
  • No one gets more than they can handle.” WTF does this mean, anyway? As if I have any choice other than to handle it? “Royal subjects: Today I choose not to have cancer! Let it be so!”
  • “It is what it is.” or my all-time favorite, “Everything happens for a reason.” Again, WTF?
  • “Anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Stronger than what? A ferret? I feel pretty strong as it is, thank you.

I’m happy to report most people get it right most of the time. I vow right now that if you commit some unintentional platitude infraction in my presence, I’ll just punch you in the groin and we can call it even. How do you like that, stupid? Honey Badger is bada$$.