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May 16, 2011

Sometimes, I’m quiet.

Here’s what I’m thinking, and not saying.

Person: Hey, can I ask you something? I just found out that my [aunt, mother, best friend, neighbor] has breast cancer. Do you have any advice?

Me: I’m really sorry to hear that.

Person: Thank you. Evidently, it has already spread to her liver and her bones. She’s going to have very aggressive treatment. Do you have any advice?

Me: I’m really sorry to hear that.

Person: Yeah, it’s really bad. Her prognosis is not good, but they’re going to give it all they’ve got. Do you have any advice?

Me: I’m really sorry to hear that.

She should make out a will and give away all her stuff and throw away what no one wants so that her kids and husband don’t have to go through 25 years of polyester fashion mistakes, old Southern Living magazines and yard sale treasures.


Person: Wow, you had cancer?

Me: Yeah. Bad luck. But I’m over it.

Person: Wow, you had cancer. That’s like, serious.

Me: Yeah. Bad luck. But I’m over it.

Person: So, does it run in your family?

Me: No, I just had bad luck.

Cancer randomly strikes and there is no reason it won’t strike you. Stop looking for reasons that I got it and you didn’t. If you want to lower your cancer risk then stop eating so much trash and get some exercise.


Person: Hey, I know you had cancer, and a person with facial tattos and emo ear piercings at the local health food store said this $60 supplement was good for cancer, so I bought you some. You stir it into your tea three times a day. She said it totally cured her mom.

Me: Thank you.

Person: Here, let me put some tea water on to boil. You can have it right now!

Me: Thank you, I would love some tea. Let me discuss that supplement with my doctor. It was kind of you to give it to me.

Person: But it cured her mother’s cancer. You should have some right now.

Me: Thank you. It was very kind of you to think of me.

Did you know that most cancer patients die of malnutrition? Were you listening when I told you I am so nauseated  I can’t see straight? I can guarantee that your supplement will have me puking up the soles of my feet. If I drink it I will probably have to go to the emergency room for IV fluids where I will likely pick up a case of MRSA and die. Please go away.


Person: You should get out more.

Me: I enjoy doing stuff at home.

Person: But there’s all kinds of wonderful stuff to do!

Me: I enjoy doing stuff at home.

Person: Are you sure you’re not depressed? You should talk to your doctor about antidepressants.

Me: No, I just enjoy doing stuff at home.

I’m probably going to die a horrible death, decades earlier than you are. I don’t want to waste the time I have left doing stuff I hate when I can enjoy doing stuff at home. I get out plenty, but your idea of a good time at [crowded and loud event] will only make me wish I had stayed home where it is quiet and peaceful.


Person: Hey how are you doing?

Me: Great, thanks! How are you?

Person: No, I mean with your tests and everything. Is everything still okay?

Me: Yep. Still doing great, thanks! How are you?

Person: So, your cancer. Definitely gone?

Me: Yep, doing great. How are you?

Well, my cancer returned. It’s aggressive and really advanced, and guess what? I have this rare form of recurrence — super contagious. I’m like a walking cancer Hot Zone… ACHOO!

From → Uncategorized

  1. You are teh awesomest.

  2. Aunt Lee permalink

    This is a wonderful resource guide for anyone with a friend/acquaintance/family member working through cancer. And it is a wonderful companion guide for anyone working through cancer herself/himself.

    Thank you for writing it. And if you think of any other scenarios, please post them.

    Lots of love.

  3. lovethroughexample permalink

    Thank you for this post. You capture the dissonance between the external and internal dialogue perfectly. I admire your willingness to be so honest with all who read your blog even though your posts may cause them to feel a little like they are sitting on thumb tacks!
    I too have had conversations with such dissonance. Like you I tend to remain silent about the internal dialogue. I wonder too if there is a cultural difference between the US and Australia. I suspect there is. In your blog you talk of some amazing support you have received. I too have received support but much of it has been from strangers rather than from friends. Through my six year journey with cancer I have found that many of my “friends” have moved from that category into a category of “people I used to know”. My day to day life moves forward with family and a handful of close friends who “get me” and understand the magnitude of what I am dealing with. I find people either label me as “inspirational” – and then they do not know how to relate to me. Or they label me as “frightening” because I have had cancer 3 times and they don’t want to get too close in case I die. I can often be more open with people who do not know me well. All of this is sad but true. I know where I stand and live with respect, honesty and integrity. My husband and my daughter are amongst my highest priorities.
    I want to find a way to let people know how much, with cancer, the little things make a big difference. This of course applies to both the positive and negative little things.
    I am working to have the courage to be as honest on my blog as you are on yours.
    Again, thank you. Kerryn

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