When I first see you or meet you for the first time, please don’t tell me that your beloved mom/sister/aunt/best friend died of cancer. Folks, when you are fighting the disease, this gets old.
“You take chemotherapy for breast cancer? My sister in law did. She died last year.”
“My best friend had stage 1 breast cancer. She beat it and then 3 months later it spread and she died within 3 months.”
Wait and get to that. Or hold it. Don’t jump to the end of the book without an introduction.
We cancer people know the statistics. We know it’s terrifying. We are terrified. We want to live and are doing our best. We know it comes back and spread. We know it kills. And we (most of us) also want to help and be there for others – be an ear to hose who are hurting. But the jump to the ending of the story with “she died” has got to stop.
I hear it in the grocery store line. A lady said it at The Gap yesterday and then again another at the nail salon. People want to relate and I get that. But try to think about how hard that is to constantly hear when you have the very thing that killed your family member or friend.
I hope this can be a little “How to Talk to Cancer People 101.” I am sure this rule applies with other diseases and ailments. The key is to think about how your words will make others feels. Try really hard to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and then choose your words. No, you don’t have to walk on eggshells and I am definitely not some fragile bird that will fall apart if your words are scary. But that said, I am about to lock myself up in the house to stop hearing the reckless words of others. And that would be a darn shame, because I like people and I like being out and I will eventually run out of toilet paper. But if I keep hearing horror stories, folks, I am becoming a hermit.
Testing positive for BRCA2 in July, 2016, Jen Frazier was shocked with her 3c Inflammatory Breast Cancer diagnosis in September of the same year, before she could take preventative measures. She has been fighting since then, making it a goal to make friends in every doctor’s office she visits and to educate others about IBC. She spent a decade as a travel writer for Southern Living Magazine and now freelance writes for Southern Living, Texas Monthly, HGTV and others, when she isn’t sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms or chauffeuring her 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son around her hometown of Dallas, Texas.