Looking to catch up on my Cosmo blog? Check out my recent list of less than helpful things to say:
1. “At least they caught it early.” How early is early enough? Any kind of cancer is going to require a major life change, likely surgery, possibly chemo, and a load of scars and pain. Sure, it can always be worse, and there are better scenarios than others. But anyone who has been diagnosed is most likely going to wish he or she had known a little sooner. Don’t rub it in.
2. “Are you scared?” How on earth am I supposed to answer that?! Of course I’m scared. I’ve just snagged myself a diagnosis that everyone fears. But I’m trying to be brave. My only option is to fight. So fight with me! Be fun and fearless, and we will conquer it together. If I’m upbeat, be upbeat too. When I get negative, just listen. No need to pile on to my already mounting anxieties.
4. “Natalie Portman looked really beautiful with a shaved head.” Yes, she did. How could she not? She had a hair and makeup team and a whole film crew making sure she looked exactly how she should. I have a razor in my bathroom and a life-threatening illness. Not the same thing. Tell me that I look beautiful once you see my newly shaved head. Heck, shave yours too! What are friends for?
5. “I saw this article about a cure on Facebook…” Everyone from my colleagues to old acquaintances to the Thai food delivery guy has a new way to cure cancer. I have been told that eating raw snakeskin can do it! I’m not saying that none of this stuff is true. Some of the advice is interesting and helpful. But at a certain point, I have to trust my own instincts and my doctors to know the ins and outs of my particular circumstance. If you’ve had cancer and something worked for you, I’m happy to hear your experience. But too many untested Internet suggestions just make me feel like I’m not doing enough. Please don’t be offended if I pass on the reptile remedies.
6. “How did you get it?” Yes, people have asked me this. I don’t know. My doctors don’t know. Sometimes life is just random, and you have a stroke of bad luck. This question just puts me in the past instead of pointing me toward the future. And speaking of the future, don’t ask if I’m worried about getting cancer again. One thing at a time, my friend.
7. “This must be AWFUL for you!” Cancer sucks. It’s ugly and indiscriminate and shatters lives and families. That is a given. But life is beautiful. Living it with or without a disease is a privilege. I can honestly say there are moments of my life with cancer that have been happier than during my greatest successes. Don’t assume I’m resentful. Tell me stories of survivors you know (we all have them). Let’s talk about how freakin’ amazing it is to be on this planet. Then let’s shop for new clothes to wear with my new boobs!
8. “…” Whatever you do, don’t say nothing. “I figured everyone was calling you” or “I just wanted to give you space” are not good excuses in these situations. Maybe you’ll put your foot in your mouth. It wouldn’t be the first time. Don’t let it make you afraid to be supportive. As much as we may get stupid questions, we do have some grace for you. You didn’t ask cancer to come in your life anymore than we did. Be honest and tell us you don’t know what to say. Ask how you can help. Be there when we need it. That’s what life is all about anyway, cancer or not.
Check out the original post on Cosmopolitan.com!