How are you supposed to look

tommaseena
tommaseena Member Posts: 1,769
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
I was told today, "You don't look like you are sick."
How am I supposed to look?

The only way I reacted was to bite my tongue since my father was present and it came from his lady friend. She said her husband looked like crap when he had cancer. So because he looked like crap am I supposed to look like that as well.

Oh yes she also said, "You got the right kind of cancer."
My thought was, "I would rather not have cancer but I do and I am fighting this with everything I can."

Can't make waves.

I don't know how much longer I can keep my mouth shut in front of this woman.

Sorry to vent. Just had to get that off my chest.

Margo
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Comments

  • chickad52
    chickad52 Member Posts: 497
    Hold your Tongue
    Margo
    Good for you. I don't know if I would be able to. But just consider where it is coming from. I know of people who have had cancer and they looked beautiful. I'm proud of you!! Diane
  • RE
    RE Member Posts: 4,591 Member
    HUGS
    Hi Margo, I am so sorry you have to deal with such a knucklehead. I am impressed by your good nature and ability to deal with this woman. In the future you may want to tell her that to your knowledge no cancer is a good cancer, but thank you for your concern. Chin up we are here for you and will more than willing to listen to you vent when folks push those thoughtless buttons.

    Hugs,

    RE
  • dmc_emmy
    dmc_emmy Member Posts: 549
    Some people...
    just don't know to say when someone has can**r. My folks are the same way. I know they don't mean any harm and, I will assume, that in their own way they are trying to compliment my "success" with battling and (apparently) "winning" my battle with bc.

    They have not seen me since last summer, but their words are (something to the effect of...):
    You're doing so well.
    You're going to beat this, it's already been four years (I remind them that it's been 3 and 1/2). Their response: That's almost four years, close enough. (They don't realize that I am counting the days.)
    You're not having any side effects. You're doing great! (Well, all of you REALLY know how I am doing.)

    My point: people don't know what to say. Maybe this lady friend was trying to be complimentary (?). Who knows what goes through their minds. I'm not sure what "good kind" of can**r means, but maybe she thought it was more treatable (as in "curable")than other kinds.

    When you feel that you have a teachable moment, maybe you could find a way to enlighten this lady friend. She could be ignorant of the facts and, in support of bc awaremess and finding a cure, it couldn't hurt to "win" someone over to our side and maybe pitch-in a few dollars towards reseach. Then it would really be "good kind" of can**r.

    Well, just a thought.
    dmc
  • cats_toy
    cats_toy Member Posts: 1,462 Member
    Margo,
    unfortunately we do run across those types. Too bad it had to be someone in the family. Being the person you are, you will keep quiet no matter what. I have noticed so many of us here are the peacemakers of the family, and you are one. Just remember, you are the better person and I think we all look marvelous going through treatment. It does seem to make us all stronger anyway.
    Take care and chin up!
    =^..^=
  • jk1952
    jk1952 Member Posts: 613
    I've heard that a lot this week

    Margo,

    I applaud your not responding to her comment about having the right kind of cancer. It was a thoughtless comment, and you handled it beautifully.

    I went back to work on Wednesday, after being out for eight weeks (had mastectomy and DIEP reconstruction). Almost everyone I saw commented on how good I looked. I know that they expected that I would be uplifted by this, but I was curious as to why they were saying it. I thought that I looked about the same as when I left for the surgery. I actually asked someone why everyone was saying this, and she responded that I looked well rested and not stressed, unlike when I left. Go figure!

    Joyce
  • Eil4186
    Eil4186 Member Posts: 949
    I got a lot of that
    I got a lot of that too----"You look good!" I think people hear you are having chemo and they expect you to look gaunt, pale, dark circles, etc...I think they get this from movies or something. Treatment can wear us out and make us look tired etc...but I would have appreciated just an inquiry about how I was feeling or something. People just don't know what its like to be in our shoes so I didn't get upset. They just can't relate. Its not their fault. I didn't know any better before I got cancer either.
  • bfbear
    bfbear Member Posts: 380
    Eil4186 said:

    I got a lot of that
    I got a lot of that too----"You look good!" I think people hear you are having chemo and they expect you to look gaunt, pale, dark circles, etc...I think they get this from movies or something. Treatment can wear us out and make us look tired etc...but I would have appreciated just an inquiry about how I was feeling or something. People just don't know what its like to be in our shoes so I didn't get upset. They just can't relate. Its not their fault. I didn't know any better before I got cancer either.

    I'm pretty tired
    of hearing that myself. Everyone seems to say, first thing, "You look great!" The unspoken part being, "...not like you've had cancer surgery, etc."

    I know I've just got the surgery and recon to recover from, as opposed to all the chemo, rads, and assorted drugs many of you here are struggling with, but it makes my "normal" depression worse, and I am really sick of hearing how terrific I look.

    But I think it's what everyone THINKS they're supposed to say. They'd probably tell you the same thing even if you DID look gaunt, and pale, and sickly...like we're "supposed to."

    I guess the best response, as you've said, is no response.

    It's good to hear all of you vent...makes me feel more human!

    Thanks,
    Debi
  • chenheart
    chenheart Member Posts: 5,159
    Sheesh!
    That comment ranks right up there with "you don't sweat much for a fat girl"!!!

    Darn those Muggles~ they never will get it, unless they get "it"...and I don't wish that on anyone. Even the most obtuse among us.

    I suppose it's better than getting those pity eyes staring at you with the "oh poor you" look.

    Sigh and Hugs,
    Claudia
  • taleena
    taleena Member Posts: 1,612 Member
    chenheart said:

    Sheesh!
    That comment ranks right up there with "you don't sweat much for a fat girl"!!!

    Darn those Muggles~ they never will get it, unless they get "it"...and I don't wish that on anyone. Even the most obtuse among us.

    I suppose it's better than getting those pity eyes staring at you with the "oh poor you" look.

    Sigh and Hugs,
    Claudia

    All I can say is that you
    All I can say is that you obviously have more patience than I do.. I don't think I could keep my mouth shut and would have probably ended up sending her home crying...

    Cheers to you!

    ~Hugs

    ~T
  • djteach
    djteach Member Posts: 273
    Hi Margo,
    The same thing has

    Hi Margo,

    The same thing has been happening to me lately, too. When they say, "You don't look sick."
    In my head I am saying, "You don't look stupid -- amazing." or "Let me throw up on your shoes." But I smile and nod and bite my tongue. It just makes me happy sometimes to think it, you know?

    Love and Hugs,

    Donna
  • Christmas Girl
    Christmas Girl Member Posts: 3,682 Member
    Can't make waves...
    Sometimes, comments like this from the people within our own family are the very worst.

    OK, maybe a cancer patient enduring treatment doesn't "look sick" - so what? It's CANCER, for crap's sake! "Right kind of cancer" - as opposed to, what - the "wrong" kind? People say the dumbest things without ever thinking first, even for a nanosecond.

    Since you "can't make waves"... Maybe it's a good thing I wasn't there with you, Margo. Sorry you had to endure these ignorant comments today.

    I can only echo Kindred Spirit - Sheesh!

    Kind regards, Susan
    (a/k/a 12/25)
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    Margo
    Margo, kudos to you for keeping quiet! It takes a big person to do that, and, a smart one!

    I have heard people say that from the start "Oh Jeanne, you look so good! You really look great!" And, the reply I give them that stops them everytime and leaves their mouth open is "What am I suppose to look like? Death?"

    Maybe a lil crude, but, sometimes I just sick of hearing it.

    But, Margo you did the right thing. Silence is usually the ultimate weapon!

    Hugs, Jeanne
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    djteach said:

    Hi Margo,
    The same thing has

    Hi Margo,

    The same thing has been happening to me lately, too. When they say, "You don't look sick."
    In my head I am saying, "You don't look stupid -- amazing." or "Let me throw up on your shoes." But I smile and nod and bite my tongue. It just makes me happy sometimes to think it, you know?

    Love and Hugs,

    Donna

    LOL
    OH DONNA, I love that! I might just start saying one of those. lol
  • tommaseena
    tommaseena Member Posts: 1,769
    Jeanne D said:

    LOL
    OH DONNA, I love that! I might just start saying one of those. lol

    Thank you
    Thank you everyone.
    I feel better this morning after reading all your responses knowing that I am not the only one that this is being said to.

    Today will be a better day.

    Smiles and Hugs,
    Margo
  • tasha_111
    tasha_111 Member Posts: 2,072
    chenheart said:

    Sheesh!
    That comment ranks right up there with "you don't sweat much for a fat girl"!!!

    Darn those Muggles~ they never will get it, unless they get "it"...and I don't wish that on anyone. Even the most obtuse among us.

    I suppose it's better than getting those pity eyes staring at you with the "oh poor you" look.

    Sigh and Hugs,
    Claudia

    Claudia!
    That just said it all! Thanks for the laugh, I sure need it........HUGE HUGS to you girl.....Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • dyaneb123
    dyaneb123 Member Posts: 950

    Thank you
    Thank you everyone.
    I feel better this morning after reading all your responses knowing that I am not the only one that this is being said to.

    Today will be a better day.

    Smiles and Hugs,
    Margo

    Yeah Margo
    I also get the

    Yeah Margo
    I also get the "you're really handling this well" comment...like what's my choice...handle it badly? You do what you gotta do and try to look as good as you ever looked...and pull on those inner reserves of strength that we all have.
  • tgf
    tgf Member Posts: 950 Member
    dyaneb123 said:

    Yeah Margo
    I also get the

    Yeah Margo
    I also get the "you're really handling this well" comment...like what's my choice...handle it badly? You do what you gotta do and try to look as good as you ever looked...and pull on those inner reserves of strength that we all have.

    don't know what to think
    My dear friend of 60 years who has been through this whole thing with me ... taking me to doctor appointments and being my second set of ears ... and waiting while I was in surgery etc. etc. ... anyway ... she ... and my 86 year old step-mother keep telling saying "I'm so proud of you."

    I have no idea what they mean. I don't know if they mean that I really should be a total basket case and look like I'm on my death-bed ... or what. When they talk about how proud they are of me ... all I can say is ... "I'm just doing what I have to do."

    What do they mean?

    hugs.
    teena
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143
    Comments
    Yes, Margo, I have gotten such comments as well. People at work, especially. I think it's probably a combintion of things. First, most people do not know what you really went through. They think of chemotherapy and the first thing that comes to mind is pale, gaunt features, bald head, dark circles under the eyes, a haunted look on the face. Second, they want to say something nice and make you feel good, so they reach for the easiest thing -- a comment on your physical appearance. So, I think it's a combination of ignorance and a desire to do good. I usually let that go, or say something like, "why thank you, I feel good." Then I change the subject.

    As for the "good kind of cancer" part. Well, that's just plain ignorant and more than a little rude. These comments come from people who don't know a thing about cancer. They see you up and around and think, "oh, she must have the type of cancer you don't automatically drop dead from. The good kind." They think they are complimenting you with this comment, but it only underscores their own lack of knowledge. Besides which, it trivializes your experience. As though you didn't REALLY suffer because you have the "good kind" of cancer. Incredibly insensitive, in my opinion. I would gently correct these statements by saying something like, "well, I don't think there's a good kind of cancer, but I'm happy to be doing well."

    Anyway, I think you handled it very well. Don't let them get to you, Margo!

    Mimi

    I think you
  • padee6339
    padee6339 Member Posts: 763
    mimivac said:

    Comments
    Yes, Margo, I have gotten such comments as well. People at work, especially. I think it's probably a combintion of things. First, most people do not know what you really went through. They think of chemotherapy and the first thing that comes to mind is pale, gaunt features, bald head, dark circles under the eyes, a haunted look on the face. Second, they want to say something nice and make you feel good, so they reach for the easiest thing -- a comment on your physical appearance. So, I think it's a combination of ignorance and a desire to do good. I usually let that go, or say something like, "why thank you, I feel good." Then I change the subject.

    As for the "good kind of cancer" part. Well, that's just plain ignorant and more than a little rude. These comments come from people who don't know a thing about cancer. They see you up and around and think, "oh, she must have the type of cancer you don't automatically drop dead from. The good kind." They think they are complimenting you with this comment, but it only underscores their own lack of knowledge. Besides which, it trivializes your experience. As though you didn't REALLY suffer because you have the "good kind" of cancer. Incredibly insensitive, in my opinion. I would gently correct these statements by saying something like, "well, I don't think there's a good kind of cancer, but I'm happy to be doing well."

    Anyway, I think you handled it very well. Don't let them get to you, Margo!

    Mimi

    I think you

    Me Too
    I admire your restraint. I had to do that yesterday. We were going to the dollar store and then out to dinner and when I walked out the door my Mom said - "you forgot your wig". I said "no I didn't" and kept walking, even though her face showed her feelings. Then my neighbor came up on the deck and called her friends over to show them that I was the one who just finished the cancer treatments and didn't I look just great? I don't feel great, I just want to lay down in the dark bedroom and sleep for about a month. She went on that I never got that "cancer face", you know, pale, with the dark circles under her eyes. I just stood there with this half grin, knowing if I did anything, it would be to bust out laughing. This from a woman whose own father died of cancer. People don't understand, and even if they do, they just don't think. Kudo's to you for keeping it in, and kudo's to all of us for being the strong women (and men) we are!
    Pat
  • Moopy23
    Moopy23 Member Posts: 1,751 Member

    Thank you
    Thank you everyone.
    I feel better this morning after reading all your responses knowing that I am not the only one that this is being said to.

    Today will be a better day.

    Smiles and Hugs,
    Margo

    Good
    I am glad you are feeling better. I hope that you are sleeping now! I see you posted at 3:47 AM. So be sleeping girl.

    I am in the "you look good" club, too. Joe, bless his heart, was touched that one of his former students saw us (at Target, of course) and sent him an e-mail praising me for "glowing with life and enthusiasm" despite my "incomprehensible hardships."

    Well, I hate to be a person with incomprehensible hardships. I don't think I was glowing, either, unless it was retail therapy anticipation kicking in--Susan taught me well. So it must be that I also am not gaunt and haunted-looking.

    On the positive side, every one of us is defeating the stereotype of a cancer patient. Every person we encounter who says something like that is also learning just by looking and talking to us. I forget which one of you wrote this, but it is true that we are educating them. Very annoying and frustrating and discouraging for us, sometimes. But part of the fight, I guess.