Disclaimer: Before I go into today’s blog post, I want to lay the foundation that these are “my opinions, my thoughts, and my own personal truth”. They might not align with yours and that’s okay. There is no right or wrong way to live this life, especially with an incurable cancer diagnosis. You live your truth. And I’ll continue to be authentic in who I am. No apologies. So with that said, Let’s begin….
Yesterday, I read this article on “What not to say to someone who’s dying.”
Besides, the title of the article, (I don’t focus on the the dying apart and I’m not in denial…I’m living), I agree with all of the writers points.
You might want to stop here and read the article if you haven’t already.
I’d like to personally touch on a few points she makes and offer my experience on the matter.
This one gets me all the time. Because I am not bald, hike, stay active and am not plugged into an IV, people always assume, I’m done with treatment and am cured. When I started physical therapy 3 weeks ago for my shoulder (I’ll write about that next week) the physical therapist had no idea what the meaning of metastatic was. She assumed that because I looked good, I was done with treatment. She even said that much.
Here’s the fact in the matter: If someone tells you they have stage 4, metastatic cancer,( it can be breast, lung, ovarian, colon, any type of cancer) they are considered incurable and will always, always be in treatment unless they decide to stop.
Treatment looks different for every cancer patient. Don’t put your ideas of what it should look like in a neat little package that only serves to make you feel better.
My current treatment consists of 2 tiny pills. And though they might look harmless, they have their own lists of side effects that can be detrimental to my quality of life.
I also see my oncologist every 3 months, check my tumor markers frequently and get scanned every 6 months. I’m never done at the doctors or the lab.
Everything Happens for a Reason
If you say this to me, I can almost guarantee that in my head, I’m saying “F*ck You”. (Gasp)
Cancer happens to no one for any damn reason other than it happens and no one knows why because if they did , there would be a damn vaccination or a cure to make sure none of us got it in the first place.
When you tell someone this, you’re implying some fault on their part. That’s BULLSHIT. Check yourself. You’re saying it because again, it makes you feel better and gives you an answer in trying to figure it out. You can’t and we aren’t asking you to.
This one resonates the most with me. I admit, I’m pretty much an open book when sharing how I live and thrive with metastatic breast cancer, whether it’s here on my blog, my Facebook page or Instagram feed. I want to share because I feel like I have something to contribute when it comes to embracing life, finding peace, and advocating for living your best life, cancer or no cancer.
However, what I have found is that as I have done this, people have also decided that they have a part of my life in a more intimate way. I too, experienced a wave of old friends reappearing wanting to “catch up” and acquaintances wanting to put themselves in to my inner circle.
I’m still a very private person. V.E.R.Y. I spent almost a year on a life sabbatical (2013 – 2014) after my stage IV diagnosis, figuring out “my life”. I cut out huge chapters of my book, that were not serving or bringing life to me. I clipped some wings and cut ties. I decided who and what were embowering and offered a well of refreshment and joy. And I still do.
So please don’t get offended if I never take you up on your offer for lunch, coffee or a phone chat. I’m not one for small talk. I never will be and I can almost guarantee I won’t share my inner processes with you. I’d love to catch up over an email. That’s great!! It would probably take me 5 minutes and you too. I’d love to encourage you or offer some of my advice from my own experiences but again, I can do it from my phone or email.
Also, if I haven’t seen or talked to you in 5-10+ years, I’m sorry but you don’t get to be proud of me. That’s condescending . I’m not your child or your best friend or working towards something for you.
You can be happy for me and I hope you are…because cancer really does suck.