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People and the things they say . . .

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

Have any of you experienced someone telling you about a friend who died of cancer right after asking about how you feel? I just had my hairdresser tell me (and this is not the first time) about this lady who was feeling good too and then she died. How outrageous! He gives great hair cuts but this time it just made me mad but I was too speechless (and why is this since this is not the first time since my diagnosis he told me this story). I responded by talking about the lady who died, defending her decision to have chemo and radiation. How crazy is that? It certainly got me nowhere. He was just as convinced it was her fault she died or the fault of her treatments, rather than the cancer she had, when I left as when I came in and I am exhausted! I have to find another hair dresser or learn how to handle people and situations like this better. Let me know what you would have done or would do.
Thanks,
Sandy

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 513
Joined: Jun 2011

Ha! Yes, Sandy, that happened to me too. A friend called after I had been finished with treatment for several months to tell me about an acquaintance with cancer who had been doing SO well than, poof, died. I was speechless too, for a minute - then just said 'gee, I'm sorry about xxx, but thanks a LOT Joe'. I don't think I've heard from him since.

(No, really, we're still friends, but what a thoughtless thing to say.)

Lorikat's picture
Lorikat
Posts: 566
Joined: Jul 2011

In the rad treatment waiting room a woman was going on and on about the bad things her husband has gone through, how many times he had been back, the damage already done etc. I listened so long I actually got angry. I told her that many of us were just starting treatment and did not need to hear all that! It was bad enough for me but there were two really young people probably in their late teens and they got paler and paler as the woman went on.

As to a hair dresser I saw on a regular bases I would be so schocked I couldn't speak! It is funny how people who have NEVER BEEN THERE can give advice/opinions on matters of life and death....

Yep..new hairdresser called for...

Dog Girl
Posts: 100
Joined: Sep 2010

My neighbor has a roommate who is always mouthing off to me and another friend that has recurrent lung cancer that herbs will heal you and you don't need chemo and radiation. Now I am very open to the idea of non traditional treatment paths, but it is a personal choice. I finally asked him what type of cancer he had been cured of by herbs and he said he hadn't had cancer. I then informed him to shut the *&%$ up as until he was faced with that decision he had no moral authority to tell anyone what treatment options they should pursue. (He denys being part of a pyrimid scheme, but I still have my suspicions.) And it wasn't so much what he said as the way he said it. (He was touting it as a cure and not a preventative measure.)

I suggest if you go back to your hairdresser (and you want to be a smart ***), you could Dr. Phil him and say something like "Well why don't you try that when you are diagnosed with cancer and let me know how that works out for you." :) Or to be nicer you could tell him that until one walks in these shoes down the cancer path, no one can understand the roller coaster ride of appointments, tests, decisons, ramifications, emotions, fears, financial uncertainty, etc... and just tell him that you hope he nor any of his loved ones ever have to face those decisions. Maybe he will have the decency to at least feel small and shut up in the future.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3108
Joined: Jan 2010

I would interrupt that person and say "Excuse me, but I am trying to be a positive person about my situation and hearing such stories does not help. Now please, could we change the subject!" I would also begin the immediate search for a new hairdresser.

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 513
Joined: Jun 2011

That's an excellent response to remember Martha. I'll keep it in mind should anything like that happen again. We should remember, though, that those that have not had cancer cannot really understand what we're feeling and I think we should give them a second chance before dismissing them completely.

Cancer is a scary word and I know before I was diagnosed it frightened me too - I had no idea what to say to people. I avoided them. It was wrong, I know now, but the fear of cancer makes people say things they normally wouldn't.

Seems a better idea might be to say what you said, then give them a second chance.

mxperry220
Posts: 369
Joined: Mar 2011

I probably would have confronted him head on and told him as a cancer survivor I did not want to hear him say this and did not appreciate his position. Unless he has walked the path of cancer there is no way he knows what treatment of cancer means. It is literally a matter of life or death. With that I would have told him this would be my last appointment with him. Of course I would have had this conversation after he fixed my hair.

z810840b's picture
z810840b
Posts: 212
Joined: Jan 2010

HI sandy- i have been in your situation quite a few times.How do I handle it???? I stop them mid sentence if i need to.."Thank you,but i really don't want to hear other people's cancer stories....It's too upsetting." That's it Sandy....I don't care if its rude .I have been through enough and don't need to hear unsolicited war stories..I want positivity around me...Hugs..alyse

Angela_K
Posts: 374
Joined: Jan 2011

The first inappropriate comment came from a surgical nurse the day of my initial colonoscopy. I was still drowsy from drugs coming out of the procedure when she went into this story about how her father had to have a colostomy bag when he had colon cancer and had hell with it and that he later died from the disease.

My girlfriends were with me because my husband couldn't be and one spoke up and said, "Would you please shut the hell up."

That seemed to work. ;)

Angela_K
Posts: 374
Joined: Jan 2011

I now, as Alyse, stop them dead in their tracks. I calmly tell them that I just don't want to hear such stories and move on. Just don't let it get to you, which is easier said than done, I know. But it's their ignorance, not yours.

I do think these silly folks need to know what they're spewing is inappropriate.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3108
Joined: Jan 2010

Geez, I need some girlfriends like yours! I love that!

cap630
Posts: 150
Joined: Jul 2011

Some people don't have a clue! I have heard the stories from friends, co-workers (I work with nurses and nursing students!), nurses, radiation techs, dental hygenist - some of these people don't even know what kind of cancer I had. I get the feeling they think it will never happen to them. I look away without interest or do not respond, but I like Martha's response better. If only they had a clue where I've been...

7243
Posts: 223
Joined: Feb 2011

Yes, now here's the best one ever ... just before my chemo a colleague said to me, "will you lose your hair"? ... "Well, if you do just think how hot Demi Moore looked in GI Jane ... It won't be so bad". Uh huh ... oh boy.

And the CT tech who during my 3 month (1st post treatment follow-up) said "oh, yeah, my Dad has colon cancer but his is in his liver now" ... and, yeah, like that's not my greatest fear?? ... unbelievable. Comforting just before I'm hit with the contrast, slowly scanned and scared beyond what I can put into words.

I think people in some way think they are being supportive ... how it backfires.

It's still very hard ...

janke
Posts: 29
Joined: Aug 2011

As I have stated on previous post...I am in the medical field and the most inappropriate comments I have received were from fellow co-workers. I now choose to keep my diagnosis to myself and only share info with others like me via networks such as this. Although my family means well they have also made some crude remarks not realizing how badly it hurts. Like I asked for this cancer!!!

I truely think people don't intentionally mean to be so ignorant, but it' kind of like the pregnant woman syndrome. Everyone wants to tell the first time prego thier horror stories. In some twisted sort of way they are trying to tell you they had it bad and they made it - and you will also.

If I have learned one lesson from all of this...it is to just LISTEN to people. Just Listen and let them know you are here for them, and you will lend a hand it they want you to help.

Sometimes I think people just talk to fill the awkward empty space in conversation. They just don't know what to say. They want to relate to your experience,(but they can not unless they have walked in your shoes so to speak.)

I have been going thru a REALLY angry stage lately, resenting comments people have made, resenting the results of my treatment, resenting my employer from being unresponsive to my medical needs, etc.. I don't really understand this stage all I know is I am angry!

Then when I look at the big picture..I am gratefull to be alive. I really don't remember how sick I was a year ago, it's all a really blur. But I know I fought for Life and I won!!! Pretty much most of my other battles in the game of life are very insignificant. I say give the dude another chance. You like the way he cuts your hair. Forgive him -he does not know what he has said or done. If it really bothers you talk to him and tell him how you feel.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

All these suggestions I will take to heart. I actually got a great haircut but my hairdresser is in all other matters of life a real out there kind of person and he is also young. He has no people skills but he is a good hair cutter. I have to try harder not not engage with him. I agree with Martha, that it is a good teaching moment to just say, "I need to change the subject as this conversation is depressing me." He would be sensitive to that. It all comes back to how we respond to situations. I can see how we could get into an anger mode as time goes on and this is not healthy for us. So I appreciate how much I learned from your responses. I laughed out loud at some of them. I love our relationship. Thank you all.
Fondly,
Sandy

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 852
Joined: May 2011

When I first returned to my church after the worst part of my treatments a woman looked at me and said, "Sandy, seeing you is like seeing a ghost!" I am still reeling from that one.

duckyann
Posts: 162
Joined: Jun 2009

I had an employee that felt the need to come in and tell me about all the people and the people she knew that had cancer and died! I finally got so sick of it that I looked at her and said "you know I really don't want to hear about people dieing from cancer....if you can't tell me some success stories then keep them to yourself because I am not interested!

melbas's picture
melbas
Posts: 43
Joined: Jul 2010

I totally understand what y'all are saying. I had one lady whom I hadn't seen in years, tell me I looked very run down one day. I told her I'd been diagnosed with cancer and was midway in my treatments. She said, I told you that cigarettes would kill you one day. I was floored!!I then told her it was anal cancer, and I didn't smoke thru my ass...tho I'd been known to blow smoke out of it once in awhile. She shut up real quick. My husband had a very close friend whose wife lost her battle 2 years before I was diagnosed. My husband says the reason he doesn't come around anymore is because it reminds him of her. Which I totally understand. But my husband blames me for the loss of his friendship with Paul. I'm sorry, I didn't ask for cancer, I just deal with it the best I can. We can't fix ignorance. Prayers, Melodie

z's picture
z
Posts: 1271
Joined: May 2009

Melodie, this lady wasn't very nice or supportive of you, and I wish people would speak to us like they would like to be spoke to. I was a 35 year smoker before being dx with anal cancer, and I quit when my dr told me the tx would work better. After doing some research I found that one of the reasons people get anal cancer is from smoking. I also was found to have lung cancer a year later, in which I was also treated for. I have had ned of anal cancer since 6-30-09 and of lung cancer since 9-23-10. I feel better than I have in years, even before the cancer. Your husband is not very nice, and I'm sure that this is stressful for you. I wish he would treat you like he wants to be treated. I am sorry for the extra stress this causes. I wish you well, Lori.

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