What to say when I say I have Cancer
I’ve only just been diagnosed, but it’s already so interesting to me the way people react when you say you have cancer. For the most part people are really supportive and sympathetic. Most everyone knows someone who has dealt with cancer or has had it themselves. Most folks don’t know what to say and that’s what they say. It’s okay, I don’t really know what to say either. Do I just blurt out “I have cancer” or “I have something horrible to tell you that might just ruin your day.” I don’t know. For the most part I’m deciding on the fly.
When it comes to people’s reactions there have been some guilt filled ones, some funny ones and some plain weird, awkward responses from folks.
Telling my mom was probably the worst. I haven’t been home to visit in years, she has only been out to the west coast one time since my husband and I moved here over twenty years ago. Every time I talk to her now she spends literally half the conversation lamenting that I don’t live closer. Over and over and over. Then she goes on to say what a hard time she is having even just finding a new doctor. So yeah, definitely glad with one of the weirdest, rare cancers I don’t live somewhere where I can’t even get a general practitioner.
She spends the other half of every conversation saying that she wishes she could have the cancer instead of me. I get that this is something almost any parent would say, I get it, but how do you respond to that? Especially when the parent keeps saying it over and over.
Do you like my “Fuck” poster? A good friend and her ten year old daughter painted that for me. Friend lost both her parents and her mother in law to cancer; she has been invaluable in dealing with this so far. When she asked her daughter what they should write on the poster, daughter asked if it could be a “bad word.” If ever there was a time for an F-bomb, it’s now.
Daughter was given permission to say the word out loud, but she has decided to save it.
Kids. Kids know what to say when you tell them you have cancer.
My favorite so far happened in the Starbucks drive thru just yesterday. I had the “Fuck” poster on the front seat on my way home from work and the youngish girl at the window “had to know” what it was all about. I told her I had just been diagnosed with cancer and a friend made it for me.
“Oh. Here’s your drink. Have a nice day.”
I really hope I didn’t ruin that poor girl’s day, but I hadn’t laughed that hard in a while.