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All’s Fair in My Cancer

December 20, 2010

Kate commented in my last entry, regarding people bringing up my cancer to me:

And then isn’t there also this thing where you (the person dealing with or who just dealt with cancer) are sick and tired of talking about cancer and just want to talk about Anything But? Man, is there really a best way to be or a right thing to say? It does get confusing for those of us who haven’t had cancer. You know? So not only do cancer patients have to go through all the shit, but they should wear a sign that helps us non-cancer-patient friends and acquaintances know what they want or need so we can give it to them at that particular moment. Because most of us would try, if we only knew.

Here’s my feeling about this  kind of thing. Always bring it up. If a person doesn’t want to talk about it, let them have the option about not wanting to talk about it. It’s not up to you to make that decision for them. I feel this way about death, too. When my older brother died, it was the kindest of people who would tell me that they’d heard about his death and that they were sorry. Sure, it made me feel sad. I lost my brother. I was sad. But it sure was (and is) nice talking about him.

Now, if you don’t want to talk about it, then don’t bring it up. Don’t go blaming that on the person who had cancer.

If they want to talk about their cancer and you don’t, for whatever reason, want to hear about it, let them know that you just can’t talk about it.

Like I said, it’s all so very weird.

And also? If I want to talk to you about my cancer and you tell me you just can’t talk about cancer with me? I’m not going to judge you.

I’m going to dismiss you.

God, how rude are you?

I think that’s fair, don’t you?

My cancer trumps anything you ever thought or felt.


Said the woman who believes Man Created God.

Speaking of my cancer, when I was at the dermatologist last week, getting my face tortured, I asked him about the scar where my port catheter was. Of all the slicing and dicing I’ve gone through, that is the meanest looking scar of them all. It’s thick and dark and oh so very shiny. He told me that it would eventually flatten and lighten but I told him that I wanted a better answer. So he wrote me a prescription for this tape that’s supposed to speed up the process. Cordran Tape. It’s a topical corticosteroid. I’ve only tried it a couple of days so I’m not sure how well it’s working. Just thought I’d put it out there, in case you really cared about me and wanted to know where I was with my cancer. But didn’t want to ask.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Beth permalink
    December 20, 2010 6:26 pm

    Thanks for letting us know. I ALWAYS try to acknowledge people’s losses, illnesses, shitty hand life dealt them etc., I have had a friend tell me she HATES people like me because she doesn’t want to talk about things that make her cry. Noted. I’m still going to acknowledge stuff because I’d want someone to ask me and I would imagine I would pick up quickly if I made someone uncomfortable. Acknowledge and move on. Or stand there and talk about it. If I were to run into you at Cub and Target we could talk and I would tell you I’m sorry you got cancer. And I’m sorry you have to deal with scars and hair that isn’t cooperating. That sucks. Especially the hair part .

  2. December 20, 2010 10:55 pm

    Beth, I’ve got a friend who is like your friend. My friend is a very private person, and if she doesn’t bring it up herself, chances are that she doesn’t want to talk about it. So I just go out of my way to make sure she knows that I am interested in whatever is going on with her, so that she can tell me if and when she wants to.
    Kathy, I’m like you with your brother when it comes to talking about my mom. I love to talk about her, and to talk about her with others who knew her. Before she died, though, I didn’t know the bereaved felt this way. I thought it might be painful to them if I brought it up, so I didn’t. Now I know better.
    And now I know better about cancer sufferers, too. Thank you for the enlightenment.

  3. Jane permalink
    December 21, 2010 10:37 am

    I want to chime in with another opinion and I’m sure Kathy knows I’m not being contentious – because she is just giving her opinion and sharing her feelings on her blog, but I don’t want people to necessarily always bring it up. I would rather bring it up myself, but I have a public job where I see a lot of people so that’s a variable Kathy doesn’t have. I see 30-40 people a day. If every last one of them brought it up I’d be a zombie with the explanations and thanking everyone for their concern. I also hate the sorrowful, sympathic look. So I think the point I’m making is, SORRY PEOPLE, there’s no easy answer to the “How do I act around people who obviously had cancer?” question. Do your best and remember it’s not about you.

    Word UP about the port scar. I am so pissed about mine – I went to all this trouble to rebuild my boobs and now I have this heinous scar that shows when I try to wear low cut stuff to show them off. Don’t get me wrong, I am very glad I decided to get a port, but god damn.

  4. Karen permalink
    December 21, 2010 10:49 am

    The cancer is a fact that is always with you. It is something you never forget especially since, at least for me, there are always little reminders here and there like a pain in an old surgery area which can send you into a world of worry.

    I choose not to talk about my cancer. Not everyone who knows me knows I have had cancer. I do not want some folks I know (my daughter’s in-laws) to be aware of my cancer. Those who know will ask how I am doing, but that’s it and we go on.

    Just the way I handle it.

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