Thursday, August 28, 2014

MY FEET IN THE SAND: 10 DON'TS: Say, Ask or Do Part 2

Over the past, almost year now, I've encountered for the most part wonderful gracious people when you tell them you are a Breast Cancer Soldier (meaning you're still battling) or Survivor (you've been declared Cancer-Free).  However, like in any situation, I've also encountered some weird and insensitive commentary.

So for those who don't know what to say the next time you hear a person say, "I'm battling or been diagnosed with Breast Cancer" (or any debilitating physical disease or ailment for that matter), here's a short list of what you probably shouldn't say, ask or do...  Part 2

6) "I am there with you...I am going through this with you..."  It sounds good but it really isn't true.  Trust me, if you are not here with me, you ain't going through it.  If you are physically present with me, you get to witness the process.  However, trust me when I say,  your behind is not spitting fire as chemo pours from you.  You probably wish you could take away the pain or share in the burden and that would be a better statement.

7) Share depressing or tragic stories:
Why do people think that the minute you share information about what's happening to you or what you're experiencing is the time to share depressing stories?  This don't, can be applied to anything in life.  My therapist sanctioned this one.  She rides a motorcycle-- she didn't think I noticed that fly leather jacket hanging on the back of her door-- I digress... Anywhoo, she shared the same sentiment.  When people find out she rides a bike, why do they feel the need to express how they know a friend of a friend of a friend who was left splattered in the middle of the highway...  Really?  Please keep the stories of how your mother's friend, daughter's, cousin's, friend, cat owner's, sister's, uncle's, niece's, friend battled Cancer to the end only to be hit by a bus and left splattered in the middle of the road.  Really, we all could do without that one.

8)  Communicate in a state of high emotion:
Feel free to go there with me if I go there.  But if you are particularly sad or weepy or unbalanced, save your call or visit for another time.  If I'm not there, I can't jump on that ride with you.

9)  Maintain the same expectations of me:
During and after Cancer, I am not the same person.  Right now I can't jump as high, walk as fast or Tee Tee, Kee Kee in the same way.  I can't cook three times a week, clean and keep up the house, travel or move in the same way.  I can't keep up in the same way.  Until I can, be patient with me or wait to come around when I can...

10) Offer Unsolicited Advice...then get upset when I reject it:
Like with many other experiences in life, I've found that the minute I offer that I'm battling or have battled Cancer, EVERYBODY who has been touched by Cancer even with a long-handled spoon becomes an expert.  First off, if you are not a medical professional skilled in the area of Oncology, keep quiet about your medical opinion.  I have enough information being poured into my brain, I don't need your mis-information too.  I had, stress had a friend who visited me.  While visiting she called one of her boo-thangs--his mother battled cancer.  I watched as she grabbed the nearest receipt to write down some information.  She concluded her conversation and handed me my receipt. 

Her: Here, my friend who is a trainer recommended that you get this herb...

Me: What's it for?

Her: Some kinda pill that isolates the cancerous cells.  His mother had cancer and he found it, it worked for her.

Me: Oh, what type of cancer did she have?

Her: I don't know.

Me: Oh.  How's she doing?

Her: Oh, she's dead but while she was living it worked.

Me: Hmmmm.... did you hear yourself?

Her: Well I'm just trying to help....don't use it if you don't want it...damn...*ethnic neck spasms* blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah............blah blah blah blah blah blah blah...

Offering unsolicited advice especially based on third party experiences do nothing more than piss off a Soldier.  And usually it is not well received even if it is good advice.

The bottom line is, think about what you're saying before you say it.  Consider your purpose, what are you trying to do, say or affect.  Think about if what you're saying is edifying and finally, ask yourself, is it necessary?

These are just some of the ways, we can save each other a little heartache and headache.  Think about what you're saying before you say it, and I bet we'll all get along just fine.


  1. And once again you rOcked this post!!!

  2. Question for ya...since you've been posting recently about what NOT to say...Whenever someone tells me something bad i.e cancer, death in family, whatever, I always seem to just say, "That totally sucks. I'm sorry." And leave it at that. Is that bad?

    1. Toni Staton HarrisAugust 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      Not bad at all because it's coming from a genuine place. Sometimes people don't know what to say and it is okay to say I don't know what to say... or that sucks... true enough depending on the person, people receive things in different ways.... my post is about what's driving an inquiry and less about expressing your sentiment about the situation. It is also okay for a person to say, what you're saying is not helping me and that sentiment be received as well... when people have said to me, that totally sucks, I've replied... It sure does and we laugh!