When you drop the word cancer your entire world changes. People will get nervous when they see you. People will drop by, they want to see you, talk to you, hug you. People will disappoint you. People want to help, but they don't know how. Some will disappear. But you'll also get support from unexpected corners of the world.
I understand if you feel uncomfortable when talking to us. We can tell these things. Just say it out loud! It's okay. But please do not bring up the following:
I am so impressed by how brave you are
I'm shit scared. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I do hope by sharing my story I will raise some awareness. Young people do get breast cancer. I can only hope I might inspire people who have been recently diagnosed. Even if it's just one. The connection with other breast cancer patients has become very important to me.
I know how you feel
Nothing could be further from the truth. Unless you yourself have
undergone the same process, you know so very little about what we're dealing with right now. So please do not compare my change in appetite with your wife's pregnancy. Do not compare my story to your neighbour or best friend who had breast cancer as well.
It'll be fine
You have no ability to make this situation 'just fine,' and we all know it. Once my treatment is finished I will not get a note from the doctor saying I will live a long and happy life (I wish!).
Keep fighting & stay positive
Are you really implying that surviving cancer is only a matter of 'fight' and willpower? I very often feel like crap and am trying to accept these feelings as well.
You look great
I'm bald, tired and lost 10 kg (22 lbs). Please only say it if it's true! If we look like shit and you lie about it, oh yeah we can tell. But we do like to hear it when we look and feel okay.
This statement is not only not helpful and not supportive. It has nothing to offer, no
comfort whatsoever. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The doctors don't know why and I myself do not live under the illusion I'm going to solve that mystery any day now.
Humour in the tumor
Yes there's such thing as tumor humour. But humour me, watch our signals. We aren't always in the mood for jokes. I always felt like it's my tumor, so I'm the only one allowed making jokes about it. When I do, laugh really hard!
Do not tell me to go see Dr. X, try a certain diet or visit certain websites. Please let me make my own decisions.
I get that people are curious and are wondering what we're going through. We do not always want to talk about it. We do not always want to answer questions about our fertility, how chemo makes us really feel and what the boobies/scars look like.
So it's okay to tell us you don't know what to say. Sometimes it's best to say nothing at all. We do not always want to talk about cancer land. But do not hide your feelings, if you want to cry with me please do. You don't always need to be positive or strong. We're all people here. If you want to offer help, offer specific help. But also understand that cancer patients do not have the
energy to keep up their relationship with you right now. The letters, care packages and emails I have received over the last six months really make me feel loved. It's messages like, 'I want you to know I'm thinking of you but you
don't have to write back', that add no pressure. So no strings attached works best!