Friday, November 01, 2013

If I ever get diagnosed with cancer...

And of course, it's quite possible.  Seems like everywhere I go, somebody's talking about a friend or relative who has just been diagnosed, or has died, with cancer.  It's everywhere.  Perhaps it always has been, but I sure don't recall hearing about so many cases at one time.  Maybe it's just because the population has grown so much.  As far as I know, I don't have it.  But then, who knows what lurks inside our bodies?  


The other day I mentioned on Facebook that if I ever find out I have cancer, I'm not going to talk about it on the Internet.  And then I got this HUGE outpouring of sympathy from my Facebook friends for the cancer that I might someday have, people telling me I would need their support, or that they would be angry if I didn't tell them.  

Here's the thing:  From what I've seen online, and I am not talking only about my daughter but about bloggers I've followed, the first thing people say to a person diagnosed with cancer is, "You're so brave."  

Maybe it's just me, but I think you are taking away that person's right to cry or be scared.  You have put a label on her that she now has to live up to, at least in public.  

My daughter once again has cellulitis in her arm, so it's another round of antibiotics for her.  It keeps happening, over and over, and she's sick of it.  

When she told me about this yesterday evening, she caught me right in the middle of a moment of hilarity, laughing so hard at Cliff that I couldn't even talk and tell him why I was laughing.  And then, the bad news.  Which reminds me I should remember that when I'm having the time of my life, there are others who have having their lowest moments, usually unbeknownst to me.  But I digress.   

If I had fought my way through cancer and all these after-effects happened to me, I wouldn't want to feel as though I had to act brave.  I might want to cry or shout or be angry in full view of everybody.  I wouldn't want to hear your "look on the bright side" or "at least it isn't ...." remarks, even though I would know you meant well.  By the way, I am the queen of "saying the wrong thing at the wrong time" so I really can't throw stones at anybody.  

This isn't my daughter's opinion, it's mine.  We have many opposing opinions and ideas, partly due to the fact that I'm an introvert and she's an extrovert.  I wouldn't want anybody to think I was repeating her thoughts; she has never said anything like this.  I still think I might not tell "the Internet" that I had cancer.  Or maybe if I decided to tell them (you?), I would demand that they NEVER call me brave or strong.  I'm not brave and strong now, and cancer certainly wouldn't turn me into a superhero.       



When faced with a crisis, a person has to do what a person has to do. It's that simple.

Joyce Rector said...

Donna I'm not the type to say "You are so strong". I told my Mom "if you want to scream then scream I will scream with you. "If you want to cry I will cry with you". If you want me to sit here & hold your hand while you scream & cry then that is what I'll do. I think each person should be allowed to handle things in their own way. Just be there if they need you. Some times it helps to just know someone is there for you.

Paula said...

Very well said.

Margaret said...

You know how I felt about that comment when I was dealing with my husband's cancer and then his death. I needed permission to be weak and not feel like I was letting people down. One of the best articles I've ever read about how to deal with grieving people is here:

Charade said...

I like your attitude. It reminds me of a favorite quote from George Bernard Shaw: "Life does not cease to be funny when people die, any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh." May you and your family find many things to laugh about while you tend to the serious issues at hand.

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I don't know what I'd do if I had cancer, but I know two that have had it and they both took a different view to it. One asked for prayers and talked about it the other didn't want anyone to know about it or ever talk about it. They both got through it and survived in different ways. I guess we do what we need to do.

Kevin E said...

Two thoughts:

First, I can't agree with you more on the "brave" thing. The person could be a coward, fearful of their life, who can say?

Second, I love your writing.

Mo Rage

Lori said...

I don't think I've ever said that to anyone, but I have said I'll pray that they have the strength and support they need to get through it. I don't know if I would make my fight public or not. I guess we just don't know until we're there. I hate that your daughter is still having to go through so much with the recurring cellulitis, It certainly isn't fair or easy, and I hope she doesn't have to go through it again.