Sunday, February 13, 2011

- What Not To Say To Cancer Patients

Hi Everyone!

Goodness, it's been two months since I last blogged! Well, here I am, finally, so not to worry - I've been either too busy or too tired to blog, but it's about time I reconnected with you guys & gave you some news about myself!
First off - I'm just home from an international 50-city tour! Okay, it wasn't 50 cities; it was 4 and it wasn't an international tour - it was a tour in Eastern Ontario. 
And it was hardly a tour. More like a visit, or a trip. Anyways, the part about me being just home is accurate. Ha!

It was such fun! Cornwall, Kingston, Belleville & Brockville are my new fave places on the Canadian map. Met lots of neat people I hope to see again when I return. Thursday night in particular was a real kick - I got to sing, do comedy & share my cancer journey with some lovely ladies at the Brockville Women's Network. It was great! 
Here are some of the gals from the BWN:

On another note.....I'm SO tired lately - my thyroid has been off, so my meds have been increased, but it takes awhile for them to kick in. Also, the cumulative Herceptin treatments have been making me weary, I think. And then there's the chemo-induced menopause - who knows what mischief THAT'S been creating in my system!

I think I just need more chocolate.

Well, I've been meaning to do a bloggy-blog posting on this subject for awhile now: "What Not To Say To Cancer Patients".

I think it's worth talking about, especially since SO many people are getting cancer these days & it's helpful if you know some of the cliches to avoid saying. 
Shall we get started? Everything that's in quotes is stuff I've copied & pasted from the web. There are lots of things I found that you shouldn't say, but for brevity's sake, I'm only listing three of them. 
Here we go:
1.  If there's anything I can do for you, just let me know.
Not helpful at all. "This statement puts the burden of asking for help on the cancer patient. Instead, offer to do specific shows the sincerity of your willingness to help out.

Offer a drive to a treatment, a trip to the grocery store or to do a few loads of laundry. Take the kids for an afternoon or even overnight. Bring dinner over. Offer to help with the patient's elderly parent or to pick up books or books on tape (they choose) at the library."

2. You should read about / take / eat these supplements / herbal medicines / miracle foods.....

Noooo! Personally speaking, I'm *really* tired of this one. If there was a single magic bullet to cure cancer, everyone would be taking it. Since being diagnosed in August 2009, I have received approximately 40 emails with this kind of stuff & I don't like it one bit. I know people are trying to help, but it gets REALLY tiresome to have constant suggestions like these. 

If you feel you absolutely MUST advise a cancer patient to try something, why not first let the person know casually that you've heard of something you think might be helpful, but you don't want to send it along unless the cancer patient is interested.

To me, that seems more sensitive than sending unsolicited information. We are most likely already overwhelmed with information, we're tired, and IMHO (in my humble opinion), many of us don't want yet another suggestion from someone who's never even had cancer themselves.

3.  Just stay positive!

Uh, excuse me? You're healthy & you're telling me to be positive?!? First of all, this can be really offensive because it's akin to someone standing on the sidewalk watching a train about to run me over, and you're yelling, "stay positive!!!" Definitely not cool. Step out in front of the train with me & then tell me if you feel positive.

Now, I actually DO feel positive, but that's not the point. The point is, I don't think it's appropriate for someone on the sidelines to give such advice.  And besides, hearing people tell me to be positive takes all the fun out of being positive! 

I've been very determined to maintain a good attitude, so when people tell me to be positive, it makes me feel like they can't see that I'm already positive and it bums me out!

To be fair, I think only two people in the past year & a half have told me to be positive, and neither of them knew me very well. So that's not been such a big deal for me.

Here's a copy-and-paste from the web: "Cancer patients hear endless variations on this “mind over body” theme. There are going to be days when a patient doesn’t feel positive at all, and you certainly don’t want him worrying that he’s sabotaging his own chances of recovery.

And what if he has a stressful job, or is a type A personality who reacts easily to stress — do you want him feeling guilty or worrying that his high-strung personality or tendency toward anxiety either “caused” or will worsen his cancer?

Unfortunately, an awful lot of the literature conveys, in one way or another, the underlying message to cancer patients that they may have “caused” cancer through stress, worry, or a negative attitude, and that they could heal the cancer if they’d only develop a mellow outlook or sunny disposition. All that really happens is that they feel even more anxious about trying not to be anxious, or they feel guilty for not feeling happy."

Finally, here's another good piece of advice: "If there is nothing to say, say nothing at all. Just offer a hug, a hand or a shoulder. Sometimes the most powerful comfort you can offer comes from the heart, not the mouth."

Now, having written this posting, let me say that I have been amazingly blessed by those around me who've been cheering me on and usually saying all the RIGHT things to me. So THANK YOU!!

I think in many ways, this posting is for others who aren't having the same experiences I'm having in that regard. This subject will hopefully help you to be more sensitive & supportive to those around you who've been diagnosed with cancer.

Well, I must toddle off....please stay warm (if you are living in a cold climate), don't get a sunburn (if you're living somewhere hot), and don't forget to hug the ones you love....

And is short....handle with prayer!

Blessings to you all,


Senior's Snow Plow ~ ha!