Leave it to Angelina to stir up controversy. Apparently everyone is an expert about cancer now...especially people who have never had it. This post stemmed in part from yesterday's post, and my stupid stupid obsession with reading the comments section on articles, and comments some of my facebook cancer friends are receiving. I should NOT read the comments! EVER!! Anyway, it's been brewing for a while, and after chatting with some of my facebook cancer friends, it just needs to come out. If you are offended by language, change the channel.
1) If you feel the words, "Oh, lucky you, you'll get new boobs" coming out of your mouth...shut the fuck up, just seriously, bite your tongue off if you have to, drink some cholula, occupy yourself by going to get a tongue piercing, I don't care, just don't say it. If you want to type or text it, sit on your hands, learn sign language, break your thumbs, do something else with them right quick please.
Sure, most of us will go through some sort of reconstruction at some point. After we've been mutilated with a giant horizontal scar, after we have lost anything resembling a breast, after our underarms are misshapen if we have had lymph nodes removed, after we have lost feeling in multiple places. Then you get to choose from procedures involving the insertion of an expander behind your pectoral muscle that is slowly filled to stretch your already delicate skin, worse if you've been through radiation, or you get skin and tissue taken from your back to rebuild a breast, or from your abdomen. You can take visions of Pam Anderson right out of your head because what you are left with, if you are lucky, is serviceable, and if you are really lucky its close to symmetric. This is not a visit to Dr. 90210. Additionally, I'm sure 100% of us would gladly trade this opportunity for new boobs to, umm, maybe not have to have a life-threatening disease that could recur at any time...you think, maybe, hmmmmm??? "Thank God I got cancer, I can have that boob job I've always wanted" said NO ONE EVER.
2) Unless you have cancer, or maybe possibly your spouse or child has had cancer... please don't offer any "knowledge" that you have about how I got it, how I can cure it, what I should or should not be doing, what you heard from your friend's cousin's hairdresser, or how your high school teacher found the cure in the Amazon and is only sharing it with certain people. Please don't offer what you think are mortality rates ("oh, most people die from that right?"). Almost just as bad, please don't say, "Oh, everyone lives from that these days, no problem, no biggie!" Please don't tell me that not eating sugar will keep all the cancer away, that I should have been doing juice cleanses since I was 12, that hemp oil will cure me, that chemo kills people, the mammograms cause cancer, or that I could have prevented it by following these five simple steps. Shut the fuck up.
3) If you know someone going through cancer treatments, don't tell them that they put on weight/lost weight/look tired. Believe me, we very well know if we are gaining weight, usually from chemo and steroids and any number of medications we may be taking. We may not be able to keep up a robust exercise routine right at the moment. Also, believe me, people know if they are losing weight and that could be because they can't keep any food down, are stressed beyond belief and have no appetite, or they may not be doing very well. Either way, you don't need to point it out, that I can assure you. Don't you dare tell someone they look tired. If you haven't had chemo, surgery, radiation, and in my case, an infant at the same time, then don't even open your mouth. Cook them some food, clean their house, tell them they are beautiful, bring some flowers, but otherwise, shut the fuck up.
4) Please do not reprimand the person about keeping up a positive attitude, that a positive attitude will cure them. Believe me, I honestly have had a pretty damn good attitude during this entire mess, but some days are just sad, gloomy days. There aren't many, but when they hit, they hit hard, and you know what? I am perfectly entitled to have them! I bet you have bad days and you don't have cancer! I know sometimes it's just because you are scared for the person, and when they are sad, it scares you more, but this is their time, not yours. It's your time to be the strong one. If you can't, shut the fuck up.
5) Cancer has made me many things - blind and deaf are not some of them. Poor eyesight has made me almost blind, but you know what? Glasses have pretty much fixed that, and I can see you staring and I can hear you "whispering". If you see someone with a bandana on, don't stare. Go up and say Bless you, or I'm rooting for you, or I'm sorry you are going through this, please stay strong..say almost anything, but don't stare and don't whisper. I still and will always remember the man who came up to me and bought me lunch when I was so heavily pregnant and bald in my bandana - not because he bought me lunch but because he was the only one during my entire bald pregnancy that came up to me and said something. He said I don't know what you are going through but good luck to you, you will get through it. Not the most eloquent thing in the world, but something I will always always remember. So basically if you can't say something, don't whisper in front of my face - shut the fuck up.
This is not even half of it, but it's a good start for me...thank you to all of my friends and family who have not done these things...you don't know how much it is appreciated...