Most of us want to bring comfort to those in pain, to those who are terrified, to those who are shell-shocked by a horrible diagnosis.
None of us want to be the person that says the awful thing, the foot-in-the-mouth thing, or the brings more discomfort thing.
I’m here to help!
What Was Said That Brought Me Immense Comfort
* I love you. You are loved.
* What do you need from me? How can I help?
* I’m praying and I’ll ask others to pray.
* I’m sorry.
* I’m listening.
* I support you and will do anything I can to help.
What Was Said That Made Me Feel Worse
* Women don’t die from breast cancer anymore, do they?
* X, Y or Z caused your cancer. Stay away from those things now.
* Thank goodness it’s just breast cancer.
* Chemo is big business. Be careful.
* I had breast cancer too. It was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. ~rest of horrifying details here~
* Jokes aren’t appropriate.
Um, if jokes aren’t appropriate, then color me Inappropriate Cancer Girl.
There’s a cape for that, I’m sure.
I know that it’s tough to know how to respond to something so big that it leaves us speechless, well almost speechless.
When in doubt, take something from the top list.
There will be time to talk, time for details, time for everything to get hashed out, but in the beginning, keeping it simple is sublime for those receiving your words and your love.
When I was offered a well-meaning, but off the mark, piece of advice, it came from those I knew who loved me, so understanding they meant well was a no-brainer.
Yet, some of the words still pierced my tender, newly-diagnosed heart and made me feel worse.
The worst of what has been said to me, the worst I had to hear, was the audible relief from a few that it’s just breast cancer.
WHEW! What a relief!
The takeaway, of course, was that most women survive this disease.
Statistically, that is true. Halleluriah! < Not factious. Truly amazing. Yet, not helping in the newest of days.
If you’re standing in my place, if you’re contemplating the idea of filling your body with toxic drugs when your entire life has been with an eye on avoiding toxins, if you’re living through the side-effects of those caustic chemicals, if you’re considering which treatments give you the best survival rates, as in the idea to live through and after treatment for as long as humanly possible, as in to keep breathing and going about your life, if you’re being cut open by surgeons repeatedly, then having to recover from those surgeries, if parts of your beloved body may be taken from you, if you’re having to watch those you love suffer helplessly while you suffer the unimaginable, if you have to walk through the maze of what is now called medical insurance, if you feel as if you don’t know your body anymore, if you understand that nothing from this moment forward will ever be the same…you would grasp the depth of the uncertainty that faces each and every breast cancer patient and you would never ever utter the words, it’s just breast cancer, even if you think them encouraging.
It is not just breast cancer, mah babies.
It is breast cancer and it’s scary as hell, no matter what your diagnosis.
My heart is grateful and open to those who stumble in these moments, because I, too, have stumbled.
Let us err on the side of fewer words in the beginning.
Words that convey our sadness and the heaviness of the moment, without mucking it up with too much of anything else.
Let us join our hearts together in our support and love for one another.
Everything else will come in its own time.
By the way, if you feel you see yourself in any of the “worse” category,
STOP IT! don’t facepalm yourself too hard, know we’ve all been there, myself included.