...and the responses that roll through our minds as you say them, that we would like to say but really it would be mean if we did.
**Disclaimer I wrote this during a phase where I was very frustrated with the world and having cancer and a relapse within a month of being done with chemo**
1) "I could never do what you are doing" AHHHHHHHH, yes actually you could, when you aren't given a choice of whether or not you want cancer you do what I am doing. You fight, you accept it, you deal with it and you move on.
2) "I love the hair, I could never cut mine that short" Again, actually yes you could, when you aren't given a choice you deal with whatever hair you have you deal with it and whether you can and cannot "pull it off" you always hold the cancer card and people don't care or you wear a hat and again people don't care.
3) "You're an inspiration" or "You are so brave for going through this" Thanks, but really I wish it weren't for going through chemo and handling it well publicly. I'd rather be an inspiration for teaching or sharing God, not for being a good cancer patient.
4) "I know how you feel" Ummmm not quite, until you've puked continually for 5 hours after someone stabbed you in the chest with a needle and then had a machine pump toxins into your body all while trying to fight the puking so you didn't make all 7 other patients around you puke and try not to get it on your clothes, just to go home have the most gut wrenching feelings across your entire body that make you just want to curl into a small ball in a dark room and not move for days all while not being able to drink normal fluids without them tasting funny for days that only made nausea worse. Or until you've lived a life where productivity is a walk around the neighborhood, a lap around Target or a trip to the grocery store. Or until you don't have a life that you control instead your days are decided by different doctors appointments and there is no telling when they may just put you in the hospital so plans aren't quite feasible to make in advance because who knows the cancer can come back quick and whatever you want to do will not happen because you will have a stem cell transplant. Or until you lose a part of your body so that way you can live. Really you don't know how I feel.
5) "Well, it will all be over soon" Actually no it won't, I'm not planning on dying so it won't be over but for the rest of my life I will have scans, I will have some fear either in the back of mind or in the front that it may be back. I will never be able to feel a lymph node on my neck or any where else on my body and be able to sleep. I will always have to live with this so it won't be over soon unless my life is because I have the scars both physically, mentally and emotionally.
6) "You are handling it all so well" It's because I have to, there are no choices here not handling it well would turn me into a hardcore hermit. You have the fight or flight mentality but the thing is you can't run away or not deal with this, so the only option is fight. Also just because I handle it well publicly doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, that I don't cry or ache or want to scream and have a total breakdown Steel Magnolias style.
7) "I'm so sorry to hear that" Yea me too, it wasn't quite the graduation present I was wanting. I would have been just as happy with an iPad.
8) "We're praying for you" Thank you (that's actually a sincere remark)
9) "Wow you used the bathroom quick and you're already standing up!" This was from a nurse at Emory after my VATS procedure. I'm 23 and yes even though I have a chest tube in at the moment I can drop trowel, pee into a bucket, wipe and get my shorts back on alone and stand up all within 2 minutes. I just can't walk and move this giant chest tube machine along with my IV pole.
**These two are from friends of mine**
10) From my friend who had testicular cancer "Hey bro, did you get to keep your ball after they removed it?" Honestly that one floors me and makes me cringe.
11) "Why are you injecting all sorts of toxins into your body? You should be using holistic medicine." Ohhhh I must have missed when you went to medical school. Really?! You're trying to advise me on what medicines I should be using to kill my cancer?! You work in RETAIL(really I don't know where these people worked but the person that tried told me about holistic medicine did) I have faith in my doctors and internet research that the route I am taking to abolish cancer in my body is going to get the job done better than drinking a lot of water and nothing else ever would, since I was drinking a lot of water when I was diagnosed in the first place.
What are the things that people have told you as a cancer patient that drive you insane?