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People say the darndest things

Limelife50's picture
Limelife50
Posts: 411
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi every one ,while waiting for my CT scan this morning I found myself reflecting back to when first dx back in October 2011.What I was thinking was some of the comments I have had to endure over that period,keep in mind I received a lot of positive comments,but also ones that for awhile would cut me but now over time my skin has become much thicker and I now laugh at these comments,I also know everyone means well they just don't realize what they are saying,oh and by the way my name is Mike. 1.Hey Mike have you made out a will. 2.hey Mike do you now live every day to the fullest. 3.Mike how much chemo are they giving you. 4.Oh Mike you messed up because since you did the surgery you probably will only live for a year now since surgery causes the cancer to spread,but if you had just done chemo you might have lived for four years. 5.oh Mike you cannot cure cancer thru surgery so you should go and buy whatever you want now since you might only have two years. 6.Oh and this last one from my brother,hey Mike now I can finally kick your ass since now you have only one kidney. There were more I thought I would just share a few of the not so good comments and trust I have gotten my share of positive support

alice124's picture
alice124
Posts: 860
Joined: Mar 2012

I recently had this same conversation with a friend. And I honestly don't think any of these rather odd responses have anything to do with true feelings. I simply believe some people have a lot harder time dealing with loved ones' illnesses than you might realize. They simply don't know what to say, and--in some instances--they say something stupid.

I'm sure everyone is pulling for you, but they are awkward with communicating that. Some may feel they should say something funny to cheer you up. Others may act more technical type question to disguise their true concern. It could be plain ole inexperience with dealing with cancer issues. It's a difficult time for you, but also for those that love you. Keep your chin up!

foxhd's picture
foxhd
Posts: 1897
Joined: Oct 2011

But some responses sure are stupid. I was waiting to read the one that goes..."Don't worry. I might walk out the front door and get hit by a car. So you'll probably out live me any how."...or something of the such.

lbinmsp's picture
lbinmsp
Posts: 266
Joined: Jun 2006

I've heard that - at least a dozen times in the past year!

The ones the make me the craziest are

"I haven't been able to sleep a wink since I heard about your cancer' (like I should care if THEY sleep a wink???).

"Why haven't you called me? I've been waiting and waiting! You should be more considerate since I've been praying for you".

And the piece de resistance from family:

"Well, I hope she doesn't expect US to take care of her now".

And then people wonder why I prefer dogs to people???

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

This is a great theme Mike (although as I started reading I winced, remembering our 'cry baby' dialogue, which seems like an eternity ago!).
This will give us all a bit of a laugh and, at the same time enable sharing an experience that non-sufferers can find it hard to understand. There's not much doubt that Alice is right that this is a situation that most people find difficult to know how to handle, leading to some truly dumb remarks, made in all innocence. Also, sometimes things don't come out quite as intended. As we were enjoying an ice-cream this afternoon, watching the herring gulls and harbour pigeons working the area round the sunlit marina, my Wife volunteered the remark "I don't mind if you die, I just don't want you to suffer" and I replied "Thanks very much!" and we had a good laugh.

We can't get too precious about this - it helps to think what hell it must be to suffer from some disability, particularly a gross deformity of some kind, where you have to live with the same sort of reaction from strangers who don't know to react, every day of your life.

I wonder if others here have the same problem I have. Most of my friends are finding it difficult to believe that I'm actually ill. In fact, some of my closest friends were, I think, disposed to disbelieve it, at least until I was first in hospital for almost a week. Even after seeing the ward I was in and the state of my fellow patients, they contrived to regard my condition as quite different from the other patients' medical status, even if I was much the more ill. I've endeavoured to offer some kind of reality check by commenting that my prognosis isn't very good. At that point I get "You should be more positive" and I say "I couldn't be more b.....y positive, if you hadn't noticed!" It seems, one way or another, that we can't win in that domain but the important matter is to win the battle - and enjoy all the laughs we can along the way.

garym's picture
garym
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Then there's the "OH NO!!! How long do you have?" I think I answered that about a dozen times, but maybe that's because I've known so many that didn't make it. Or they'll ask me how I'm doing and then take my wife aside and ask "How is he really?" like I'm not supposed to know. One of my best friends said "Crap, I was counting on you to be a donor if I ever need a kidney." I don't think I've laughed harder.

alice124's picture
alice124
Posts: 860
Joined: Mar 2012

One of the more popular responses that John has been receiving is, "Well, if the Mayans are right, we'll all be gone after December 21, 2012, anyway. So let's party!"

j_rod
Posts: 125
Joined: Mar 2012

When I first started this journey in Sept 2011, and a 'worrisome mass' was found incidentally, I've heard it all. 1) So what are you going to do? Are you going to do what you've always wanted to do? Ans: No - I'm going to go to work tomorrow. 2) Oh - well you smoked and drank. (Like I asked for it.) 3) From my sister as we wrapped up our conversation the day before surgery: Did you make a will? 4)I created all of the costumes for the school play - there were 30 costumes and the director said as she had in the past there wasn't any money to give me this year. Just like the last two years. So I had paid out $300 dollars again this year. At the last minute, the other director's brother-in-law died, so the day of the play I was to be in the wings cueing students when to enter and exit. I commented to the first director, "I won't be able to do make-up and costume changes if I am to be in the wings directing." Then I mentioned how this is the last day before spring break and how overloaded I am already - including stress and worry from the surgery coming up in a week. Her response: 'Welcome to my world.' I was incredulous. I couldn't believe she said it. 4)And yesterday when on a 150 mile car ride from my house to Chicago for my post-op appt. and trying to get out of the car. From my fiance: I can't help you get up. Me: Why? Him: Because my elbow is swollen. Me: I didn't know - how did you do it? Him: From golfing yesterday. PS - He went golfing all day Sat. and Sun. and left me at home. I wasn't well enough to get out, but I was bored and lonely. Oh well.....life goes on. Do these people even hear themselves talking?

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

I nominate Mike, whose inspiration this is, to draw up a list of these sayings as an educational tool for supplying no-nos to potential offenders. I think "Welcome to my world" is a classic.

j_rod
Posts: 125
Joined: Mar 2012

...I have more non-supportive quotes, but these are the few that came to mind. Thanks Mike for opening the dialogue.

STurner68
Posts: 12
Joined: Apr 2012

From my Dad two days before my surgery. "If everything goes, you know, ah, OK, we'll see you next weekend." I've known him all my life and know he just isn't good with words, so I merely laughed and said "I love you, too, Dad, it's going to be OK."

Today, however, I returned from one of my discharge-instructed 10-minute walking sessions up and down the block and, 10 minutes later, had the EMTs, a fire dept. vehicle, and an ambulance outside my door. Someone saw me, didn't think I looked so hot (this person would not have been told of the surgery) and called for emergency assistance! Granted, I walk like a bad impression of a bad Billy Crystal impression, but I thought I was some hot stuff out there. Fortunately, it was quickly remedied, and the paramedics actually thought I didn't look too bad for four days postop. Whatever happened to just asking if I needed help?

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

That's a worthy submission Sheila! I'm happy that your Dad had so little to worry about.

Did your interfering neighbour give any plausible explanation of him/herself (other than being brain dead)? Perhaps you're a wild-looking 800 lb gorilla who was carrying a machine gun and couldn't be approached other than in emergency vehicles with lots of backup. I just hope your neighbour was appropriately chastised for such a waste of important social resources, not to say the alarm it must have caused for you and others.

STurner68
Posts: 12
Joined: Apr 2012

I wasn't told which neighbor called....I suspect it might have been the psycho alcoholic at the end of the block. I wish I knew if only so I could go mess with their heads tomorrow. Gotta find something to keep me occupied during this recovery period. I also chastised the fire dept. on the need for three vehicles. You couldn't have sent out a scout first, guys? Assessed the situation, called for back-up if needed?

As for my dad, one of the earliest things I learned as a new parent is that being a parent doesn't exempt you from being scared or unsure. It's given me a lot more compassion for my two parents. If it helps, when I broke the news to my mom, she immediately said "you must get this from your father's side of the family......I smoke two packs a day, drink at least a 6-pack of beer a night and I'm as healthy as a horse. You eat well, exercise, and you're still screwed." They're both scared and we're coming off some bad family losses of late. I know enough to not go seeking my support from them, but from the folks I know in my world who can be counted upon. They don't love me any less, they just can't get out of their own way much. I hope to do better for my two.

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

I reacted so strongly to your story because it reminded me slightly, with a shudder, of an English law case that has troubled my soul profoundly for thirty odd years. D v NSPCC upheld the PII-based protection of informers, in that case in the interests of the prevention of cruelty to children. An unidentified malicious neighbour made an entirely unfounded allegation against a model mother alleging that she had been mistreating her children. The victim wanted to know who the guilty party was but the Court (upheld in the House of Lords) barred that disclosure. The mother was a sensitive soul. She couldn't let go of the incident and the episode wrecked her life. I have always felt that the case was wrongly decided and should have been "distinguished" on its facts and circumstances from the entirely valid underlying principle at stake.

Fortunately, your position is different and you can shrug it off (and I get the message that you've already been able to see the funny side of it). You've obviously got your head screwed on which is why, with your parents, you can appreciate that unconditional love doesn't entail being blind to the objects' shortcomings. I don't doubt you'll do much better for your two. Have a long and happy family life!

j_rod
Posts: 125
Joined: Mar 2012

On the question of the will....I told my family I left it all to the dog. LOL On the question of "Welcome to MY world" (from a fellow teacher) I should have said, "I'll trade you." On the question of golf, (close your ears and eyes Tex), I should have said "You better sleep with one eye open - because instead of a nephrectomy, you'll be requiring a golfclubectomy" - I don't think I need to detail where I had planned to implant the golf club. Just yesterday I went to the beautician to have my hair done. She asked how I was doing - I told her I was doing great. I showed her my battle wounds. Everyone there asked how I was....granted I only see THEM once every two months! They were very nice. I commented to my hair stylist half way into my hair cut that I know she recommended that I get a trim before the operation. But I told her I had decided to wait until after. Says I - in a very deadpan tone - "You know, if something happened while I was on the operating table, I would be out the cost of the hair cut." I looked at her in the mirror - the look on her face was priceless! Then I broke into a smile and guffawed loudly as did she. It was a great moment.

Minnesota Girl's picture
Minnesota Girl
Posts: 115
Joined: Jul 2011

I have been asked, more than once, if I get drunk faster (having only one kidney.)

Also, my cancer diagnosis has inspired my husband and me to get healthy. He's lost 75 lbs. and I've lost 25. Someone at church complimented him on his hard work, and dismissed my weight loss. As in, "I know Amy has been sick, but gee, Brian, you have really been working hard." You can bet THAT got me MAD!!!

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

I think you had every right to be incandescent with rage!! Maybe your fellow-congregant didn't know you had cancer?

Anyway congratulations to both of you on such superb achievements. Your Hubby must have been hugely over-weight - what was he before? I'm sure that you must both be feeling great as a result and I hope you're both pledged to keeping that way. How did you do it - with a combination of exercise and improved diet?

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