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Things are better left unsaid....

cureitall66's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: Aug 2012

I realize that some people in the outside world of cancer are/can be lost for words when approaching someone they know that is dealing with cancer, but....wow, can't believe what the last couple of days had brought us.

Finally got my loved one out of the house. Trying to get a little bit of normal back into his life. We ran into one person that said, "Oh Hi, I didn't recognize you. Are you sick?" and with that my loved one replies, "Yes, had a bit of a setback with my health with cancer, but starting my recovery process." and the person replies back "Well, your going to make it aren't you?" and my loved one said choked up, "Well, they tell me I will.". As we got back to the car my loved one sobbed. I couldn't believe what had just occurred. But, we got past it and moved on with our day. Next day we attempt another day out and run into someone (an attorney's wife) that said they heard about his diagnosis and they were thinking of him. The next words out of her mouth were... "So, do they think your going to make it?". OH MY!! Needless to say we aren't planning any more days out for awhile.

I realize that people can be at a loss for words, but it doesn't seem to me that it takes a rocket scientist to know what NOT to say!! Sorry...just needed to get this off my chest. Really bugged me. Do people not realize the emotions that go with this? The difficulty of the whole experience and just trying to digest it all ourselves....the waiting for our scan and get a clear one...the not knowing right now?

I pray that people try to think twice before they speak...I know it wasn't intentional, but it still hurts afterwards.


George_Baltimore's picture
Posts: 303
Joined: Jun 2009

some people do not engage their brain before they engage their mouth. It is also possible that as soon as they said it, they regretted it. I am a person who is extremely sensitive toward other people's feelings yet I can think of a couple times in my life that my brain wasn't engaged before my mouth started moving. As you say, I'm sure they didn't mean any harm.

phrannie51's picture
Posts: 4672
Joined: Mar 2012

didn't their mama's teach them anything? To me, what I'm hearing isn't just a loss for words, but plain rude. I'm so sorry he got back into the car and sobbed...I wished I was on his shoulder and whispered him a quick comeback..."you don't look so good yourself, and have you been sick, too?"...or maybe the Tonka truck line would have fit in here?....I truly forgive those who are at a loss...but it's hard to forgive those who don't care what falls out of their mouths.

He's still feeling like poop right now, but I truly think that once he starts feeling better...his fear of the scan will disappear until the scan is right in front of him...I'd hate to see him worrying about 3 months away, and miss getting excited about feeling better and better.


PS...My cancer was the subject of gossip in certain groups in this small town...one person who I hadn't seen, but was close to me years ago saw me in the grocery store...he walked up and said "MY GAWD, you look wonderful for somebody who's supposed to be dead"...I was taken back at first...then I laughed out loud...there was a compliment in there somewhere.

Ingrid K's picture
Ingrid K
Posts: 813
Joined: Mar 2011

some people are just rude...and like Phrannie said, it's good to have a snappy comeback ready. I used to say, "I had cancer, what's your excuse ?"

I give you both a lot of credit for getting out of the house. It took me 10 months after surgery and 5 months after rads to go out in public. My first trip was to the grocery and was much like what you describe. Not only did I have the significant weight loss, I also had the disfigurement....so quite obvious that I had been sick....yet still some of the comments were ridiculous. As my husband likes to say, "You can't fix stupid."

So tell hubby to try to ignore the comments, and continue on the your journey. Just put Phrannie on your shoulder(s) and you'll both be just fine.

cureitall66's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: Aug 2012

He's definitely looking past it. We have just been having some emotional times right now. Was not anticipating that. He had a baseball cap on and I thought he looked pretty good. He's 51 and without the hat probably looks about 80 right now with his leftover scraggly, gray hair. He's very self conscious of his looks right now and I was assuring him he looked fine and lets get out for a short bit...and boom. But it's all good. We're just going to have to get used to weird comments and yes...look for some good come backs!

Thanks everyone for letting me get this out of my system.. : )

Tim6003's picture
Posts: 1511
Joined: Nov 2011

I consider myself a big goof and I wouldn't even say something like that. I lost a lot of weight (70lbs) during treatment, people who had not seen me in some time when I ventured out would say "oh, wow, you really lost a lot of weight, I heard you were sick" ...I would just respond, "no not sick, just on the famous cancer diet" ...that would usually make them twist their head a bit ...I smile and just walk on .. :) :) ..they can't help it :)

When Kreg gets his NED ...he will be able to deal with anything, anywhere, anytime....that's what us cancer survivors do once we have faced what we have ....the small stuff never bothers us again...lol.



Skiffin16's picture
Posts: 8286
Joined: Sep 2009


I use to like to tell them;

"Other than having cancer, I'm in perfect health"

Like my buddy IK said, you can't fix stupid....

There was actually one lady on here awhile back that had the worse relatives ever...

They were all at a Holiday dinner, and the grandmother told her (while at the family table) that God was punishing her for something she must have done in her life...

As P-51 says (sort of), that just rubs me raw....

There's a thread or two on stupid comments, I'll see if I can find it..always good for a few laughs for sure.


luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

Over the last 2 1/2 years I too have experienced the entire spectrum of replies from others. I may be fortunate as I have a very dry and sometimes sick sense of humor, and find myself applying my craft when either replying to something another has said, or just opened up the dialogue with something totally out of left field.

I also can remember being on the other side when a loved one, co-worker / employee, friend, neighbor Etc. drops the C bomb on me.

It the real world, what do you say when someone you know says they have cancer. it is a real world kick into the boys.

Some of my replies are, "well im not dead yet" "Better to be taking a dump on you flowers VS looking up at their roots" "living the F&%$in dream" "damn right I look good, I dropped 77 lbs the hard way" "hey,why do I look better than you when I am dying of stage 4 cancer?"


Just my way of me driving my bus, not some ignorant hump with an IQ and shoe size as the same number driving my bus.

My adice will either help you, or I just became the most sick and wierd member of CSN.

Seriously, I want all of my CSN family to have a joyous and blessed Christmas, as we all know firsthand what is really important in life, and the way we all choose to live life.

I love you guys.


donfoo's picture
Posts: 1644
Joined: Dec 2012

I too am one sick MOFO and just can't wait for those stupid comments! I will have my book of replies, graded by how stupid the remark and how much real empathy there was but just came out the wrong way.

First to OP, do not take offense and do NOT let it past your skin. Let it bounce off, please. As to the physical appearance thing, try not to be self-conscious. Show off the battle scars and be proud to have fought the battle and live to talk about it!

So, after 1 minute of thinking of response to this one, :So, are you going to make it?"

Well, I am still up and around but the doctor told me that I should be dead by now and amazed I am still around.

Why yes. I've been told my chances are better than getting run over while crossing the street.

I'm not sure. How about you? You never know when something will strike you dead, you know life is kind of funny that way, don't you think?

Check back in a day or so. My voicemail to God has not been returned, maybe he is busy marking the dumb *** columns on your scorecard. When he does call, I will surely ask the date of my departure and sure to let you know. I do have your email don't I?

Maybe. Have you heard any news that I should know about? You know how rumors get around.

Absolutely! The doctor said if I did not fully recover he would turn in his certificate to practice.

OK, more later, I like this thread!


Billie67's picture
Posts: 843
Joined: Jul 2012

I think we can all relate to the dumb things people say. We were at a Labor Day picnic this last summer and I had just finished trt in July. The picnic was mostly people that work with my husband and most everyone was so nice and polite and simply asked how I was feeling. Some said, "you look great I would never have known you were sick or had cancer" and honestly that wasn't so bad because really I know for people that have never been around C, they just don't know the right or wrong things to say. However, rude is a whole other thing. A wife of a guy that works with my husband sees me and says "oh my gosh, I can't believe you're here! You look good.....skinny, really skinny and tired but you look good"
Ok so that was borderline rude but then she goes on....."can I ask you a question?" to which I say, "of course" she then says, "so what was the hardest part?" I think to myself....ok she really cares how sweet... And I say " well the radiation was harder than the chemo because it just affects so many things, you can't eat, it hurts, you get burns, it makes you tired and blah blah blah" she says.........."oh wow I would have thought you would have said being scared to die when your boys are still young!". I honestly was so shocked I literally just looked at her for a second and turned and walked away. What the heck do you say to that? It still shocks me. She also asked me if they got it all and what's the chance of it coming back and then proceeded to tell me "well you know how that darn cancer is, you never really get rid of it!"
Emily Post would have a field day with her!

ToBeGolden's picture
Posts: 695
Joined: Aug 2010

I can forgive what well meaning friends and family say. It is a little hard to overlook the verbal and non-verbal comments of the professionals that have been treating me. When THEIR TREATMENTS have failed me, and when they have nothing else to offer, they act like I have some kind of plague. Can hardly wait to get out of the room. And that's my medical oncologist. And you wonder why I'm depressed. Rick.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4302
Joined: May 2012


The rude comments may never end, but you can both look beyond them (and those who spew them). Some people are just stupid, insensitive, butt wads.

For me it was a sister-in-law with comments about how I looked so I told her it was the cancer kicking the s _ _ _ out of me. By the way, I looked better than she does on my worst day fighting cancer. Another was a niece who would not let up (in front of everyone) on why I could not and would not eat, she had a cold before and knew what it was like to not taste. I thought about putting her head in the microwave for 35 sessions of 2 minutes each (I did not really think that). I figured both of these relatives are just dumb.

As for emotions and crying they can pop out at any time, any where. The first time I saw one of my rad techs at 3 months post I started to cry and gave her a big , big hug. She was always so nice to me. They had a special lounge for the waiting cancer patients, but I would always stay with my wife in the normal people waiting room, where the tech would come look for me. She was always so caring and would take me by the arm for my walk to “mask time”. Anyway, you may are may not cry at the drop of a hat, I can live with that.

Keep going outside, getting better, feeling better, you’ve got a new lease on life don’t let some putz bum you out.



Tonsil Dad's picture
Tonsil Dad
Posts: 489
Joined: Dec 2011

I don't know if its just me or what, but I have never had
a problem to what I have been delt. I have never had a problem to tell
people who asked a question to why I lost weight (60lbs) or you look
thinner, well I told them like it is...I have (had) cancer and I am a
survivor , they are more embarressed and feel bad for not thinking
about what they said.
don't be ashamed of what we have (had) , people in general are
just ignorant and don't know any different.

God bless
Tonsil dad,


Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

Your neice had a COLD, you say? Wow. And there you were worrying about yourself fighting cancer when you should have been praying for her.

CivilMatt's picture
Posts: 4302
Joined: May 2012


Until that happened, I thought she was smart (and nice). Now, not so much and the accuracy of my “Matt Radar” has been highly tuned by my H&N friends.


Mikemetz's picture
Posts: 402
Joined: Nov 2011

Hearing the stories many of you told about stupid and insensitive things that were said to you, thinking back I have to consider myself lucky. The worst I got was something like "Wow, you've lost a lot of weight (65 pounds, actually). How'd you do it?" I'd just say that I have a very effective weight loss plan, but don't recommend it to anyone.

In the fall after I had completed my treatments I was able to attend a professional conference with about 300 other people that I knew very well and who knew me--some for many years. For the first 24 hours there, no one recognized me and I didn't tell anyone who I was. For all purposes I was invisible to them. I got a whole range of reactions when I did start to re-introduce myself. Two of them stuck out.

One asked who I was, and I said, "Mike ________". She didn't miss a beat and blurted out "No f*&^%$g way!". The other was someone I had not seen in a very long time and he came up and said, "Mike, you haven't changed in 20 years--looking good!"

I am what I used to be!


Posts: 344
Joined: Sep 2012

We, too, have had alot of people say really insensitive things to us. That's why at work I basically have shut myself off to the subject of my husband. I work in the medical profession but even my coworkers have been insensitive. They have no idea about this cancer. So I don't really want them asking about my husband...it's just easier. I don't socialize in the lounge like I used to, or eat in the lounge anymore. I really don't have the energy for their questions, expecially when they don't understand and don't really want' to take the time to understand.

As far as the emotional part I can relate. I am less emotional but still can lose it at the smallest thing. Trying to keep it all in perspective...like the families who lost young children in the CT shooting. What agony they are going through.

But, again Matt cheered me up when he said he looked better on his "worst day" then his relative on her "best" day. Gotta love it. Same way with my husband. After all he's been through, he's still "hot"...lol

fisrpotpe's picture
Posts: 1349
Joined: Aug 2010

been so many years of hearing so many crazy, unthoughtful and pitiful jaw droppers

i have so many that i have forgotten more than i recall.

keep in mind we are special and they see special and their tongues get a loupe on it....

just smile! at least they did not just walk away


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