The stupid things people say

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whatnext

The stupid things people say

Postby whatnext » Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:19 pm

My list of the top things people should not say to cancer patients (some pinched from elsewhere 'cos I can totally relate!)

"Sure, you might die but I could step off a kerb and get hit by a bus" Umm, ok I guess there might be a parallel - if you know which street kerb you'll be stepping off and you've got the date, time and number of the bus. Oh, and the bus backs over you for good measure.

"You have to think positively" Why, am I gonna die if I don't act like Tigger on prozac all the time?? Do ya think all the people who die are the one's who don't think positively? I am positive I have cancer. I am equally positive this is not a good thing.

"Oh, I know someone who died from that type of cancer" Thanks for that, you made me feel so much better.

"God gives you what you can handle" I could have handled winning the lottery too.

"What's your prognosis?" If I'm around in 10 years, I'll let you know.

"If anyone can beat it it's you" Yep, all along the cure to cancer is being myself! Sucks to everyone else, you're all doomed.

"It's not your time to go" Then why bother with the surgery and treatment?

"Life is not fair" Thanks for the heads up.

"God has a plan for you" ...but He didn’t quite get around to making one for all those poor suckers who have died from cancer, huh?

"Every cloud has a silver lining" Feel free to elaborate on that, I sure can't see anything good about being diagnosed with a life threatening disease that is highly likely to kill me and will at the very least leave me with permanent scars and side effects and a high risk of recurrence in the future.

"It’s just a bump in the road" Living with a cancer diagnoses, getting chemo, radiation, dealing with the multitude of side effects, gaining weight, having hot flashes, being depressed and anxious is not a bump in the road it's a major mountain.

"Lance beat cancer"…and I am going to beat you over the head with the hard copy edition of It’s not about the Bike….

[After the final round of chemo] "Just think, you're done" Done? I'm done?...I guess I'm done with cancer everyone. Nothing left to do. Umm, how about all the side effects and worrying for the rest of my life about recurrence?

"So, is it the bad kind of cancer?" No, I have the good kind.

"This is a treatable disease" Oh sure. Chemo, surgery, more chemo, radiotherapy. No sweat.

"How do you know if it's working?" If it doesn’t work, I end up 6 feet under. That’s how.

"You'll be fine, you have a great attitude" If attitude really matters then why did I get cancer in the first place? Or does attitude only matter after you get cancer? Right now my attitude about cancer is lousy. What does that mean?

"If you really want to live, you will. Just never give up. When people give up, they die." Finally, the real explanation for cancer survival rates! For example, why have cancer survival rates gone up over time? Because more people who get cancer really want to live! Why does the US have slightly better survival stats than say Europe and Canada? Because as everyone knows, Canadians and Europeans are more prone to giving up, right?

NWgirl
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby NWgirl » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:19 am

I'm going to print this off and carry it in my purse with me so I'm prepared to respond the next time someone says one of these things to me. These beat anything I could have come up with! :lol:

Love it!
Belle - "Don't Retreat - Reload"DX 10/07 Stage III Rectal
Surgery 11/07; 27 of 38 nodes
Perm Colostomy 8/11
12/10 recurrence lungs & LN's
VATS Jan 2011
Radiation Oct 2013
Chemo for Life
2012 Colondar Model

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Terry
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Terry » Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:30 am

Awww, I think people just don't know what to say and they're trying to say something to make the person feel better. Some of the things listed, like a positive attitude, I have to disagree with you, I think it does help. Some of them are stupid things to say but still. I had a friend whose dad died when she about 10. Someone came up to her at the funeral and said, I'm sorry about your dad. She snapped at him "why did you kill him!". Yikes, I've been scared to death to say I'm sorry to anyone at a funeral ever since then, now I say I'm sorry for your loss. I bet if you were to say the responses you have to the comments listed (which are rather ammusing:) you would feel pretty bad after you did it. JMO
DX 7/3/07
Chemo, radiation, 20 mo. chemo, IMRT, cyberknife, 6/11 lobectomy.
1/16 resection perm. colostomy intraop. rad.
PET 2/12 nose, thyroid, liver, lngs
Folfox 3/12
Lord I know You'll keep me here until
you know I cannot suffer any longer!

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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby jmarie » Sun Oct 18, 2009 6:49 am

whatnext wrote:"Oh, I know someone who died from that type of cancer" Thanks for that, you made me feel so much better.


Two weeks after my dx I was with my Mom at the hospital gift shop, she was still bald from chemo(BC). This lady starts going into this long story about how her brother died a slow, painful death from throat cancer. My mom had never told me people come up to her all the time with cancer horror stories. Being that I had just found out 2 days earlier I was stage IV, my mom was horrified and looked like she was about to strangle this lady. There was no way at the time for the lady to know I also had cancer. I don't know what goes through ppls mind when they would tell a cancer patient about another person that dies from cancer, not exactly a morale booster ya know?

whatnext wrote:"This is a treatable disease" Oh sure. Chemo, surgery, more chemo, radiotherapy. No sweat.


When my Mom was dx, I can't count how many ppl shrugged it off saying, "Oh, well Breast Cancer is the one you want if you get cancer" Excuse me? No one wants any type of cancer. And although tx has improved for BC patients many still die from the disease. And it is still a long road, your boobs are deflated/disfigured and you go bald. That pissed me off more than anything. Plus I was so terrified of losing my Mom and to have ppl shrug it off like she had the flu infuriated me.

Yes, people get nervous and don't know how to repond, but I don't think that is a very good excuse for some of the stuff I have heard.
DX Stage IV 11/25/08
mets liver lung, kras mutant
Baby 2yrs old! I am 32yrs
Too many chemo txs to count
trying to find a clinical trial
"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf"

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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Joy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:30 am

My GP told me after I was recently diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocritic Leukemia ( almost 4 years after Stage III Colonrectal) that "don't worry, it is a GOOD cancer, I have a patient who lived for 14 years". I didn't hit her (showed great restraint) but I sure wanted to smack her :oops: Now there is a NEW nodule showing in my lungs and she said "don't worry, it is probably nothing", you are cured of Colon cancer after 3 years :shock: .
I told my Oncologist that I wanted to take my GP and strap her to a chair in the waiting area of he Regional Cancer Centre. Sitting in the waiting room is a sobering experience, there are NO GOOD CANCERS :evil:
Joy
Stage III rectal cancer 2 nodes out of 19
LAR January 4th 2006
2 rounds of FOLFOX
28 continuous radiation with continuous 5FU
6 rounds of FOLFOX
NED

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Gaelen
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Gaelen » Sun Oct 18, 2009 8:47 am

As much as people may want to say *something*, far too many have NOT learned to let common sense kick in before they open their mouths, and they're clueless that these comments are maybe NOT the right ones.

I love the 'think positively' responses - and have used pretty much the same responses when needed.

Bottom line, many of these platitudes (well-intentioned or not) are stupid things to say to cancer patients.
And to paraphrase the comic Ron White, you can't fix stupid; you have to stop stupid in its tracks. That means we have to teach people how to respond better.

When confronted by platitudes that are really offensive or stupid comments to a cancer patient, I either ignore the comment (if I can) or apply a little of what trainers call positive-punishment (P+). In this case, P+ is doing or saying something back that is so aversive to the person offering the platitude that it brings him/her up completely short. If my response horrifies, well -- maybe s/he will stop and think before being stupid/insensitive in the future.

"I'm positive having cancer isn't a good thing" is a fine way to start. ;)

(edited out the typos...must.have.coffee.now!)
Last edited by Gaelen on Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby karenM » Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:20 am

I think if you find out someone has cancer just tell them you will pray for them, give them a hug, and then do something for them.Cook a dinner, hire someone to come in and clean, send a gift card for a book store or anywhere else. I don't think words work at a time like that, but actions speak so loud. We had ONE person bring a dinner and that was when I was almost done with the chemo so hubby had almost everything to do him self. Cooking, cleaning, shopping,taking care of our teenager, etc etc.
Colon cancer found Nov 08- stage 3
Surgery Dec 16th 08
in hosp 16th to 23,
28th to 1st of Jan for blockage
port put in Jan 12th
Chemo started Jan 09-
ended July 09
Hospital for a wk in April for bleeding.
As of Aug 09 am NED! Thank GOD!

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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Joy » Sun Oct 18, 2009 9:39 am

Hi Karen: When I was going through Chemo a friend called and asked me "what can I do for you". I told him that the best thing he could do was to "look after my Hubby". He arrranged a lunch date with 4 of Hubby's buddies every Wednesday at a local Pub. This became a ritual and the 4 guys still have lunch every week. I wanted Hubby to have a life and not focus all his attention on my sickness. The 4 guys talk "guy stuff" and my name is never mentioned ......just the way I want it.

My daughter was a god-send she came every week-end and prepared a weekly menu of freezer dinners for us, did the housework, and cheered me up.
Joy
Stage III rectal cancer 2 nodes out of 19
LAR January 4th 2006
2 rounds of FOLFOX
28 continuous radiation with continuous 5FU
6 rounds of FOLFOX
NED

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KarMel
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby KarMel » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:23 am

I hate when people ask "they caught it early, right?"

If I tell the truth, which is "no", I see the pity and the horror on their faces. Don't ask the question if you don't want to know the answer.
Stage IV, April 2009.
Treatments...multiple .
Currently none
"It is well, with my soul"

NWgirl
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby NWgirl » Sun Oct 18, 2009 11:27 am

Now Terry, you know I wouldn't REALLY say those things. But I'd REALLY, REALLY, REALLY WANT TO!!!!! :-) And they are REALLY, REALLY FUNNY! Honestly I've been pretty lucky - not to many people have said dumb things to me. I do have a very well intentioned friend who told me that God must be giving me a challenge, because the only other reason I would have been given cancer was because I had sinned...... :shock: Fortunately it was via an e-mail so I didn't have to sit there with a dumb look on my face not quite knowing what to say. I knew she meant well and normally doesn't even approach religion with me (although she is a very devout Mormon). I just hit "delete" and went on about my way. I still keep in touch with her - again, I know she meant well and she is a good person.

I've learned the hard way over the years about saying the wrong thing. I'd love to say I've learned from my mistakes, but I still suffer from foot in mouth disease from time to time - which I can't blame on the chemo - though that would be a nice excuse. I do from time to time tell God that since I haven't learned this lesson yet, that he/she should allow me more time here on earth to figure it out. So far the deal seems to be working. :-) I can't say I agree with the whole positive attitude thing. I think that if you can manage a positive attitude at least some of the time then it makes your life and the lives of those around you more pleasant - but for curative properties? I just don't buy it. I've seen to many wonderful people with extremely positive attitudes lost to this stupid disease. What's that saying about it's not the destination that counts but the journey? Well, I guess whatever you can do to get through the journey the best way you can, then that's what counts in the end.

From reading this board for as long as I have I have learned one thing - people have as strong feelings about "positive attitude" and cancer as they do about religion and politics.....yikes.
Belle - "Don't Retreat - Reload"DX 10/07 Stage III Rectal
Surgery 11/07; 27 of 38 nodes
Perm Colostomy 8/11
12/10 recurrence lungs & LN's
VATS Jan 2011
Radiation Oct 2013
Chemo for Life
2012 Colondar Model

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Gaelen
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Gaelen » Sun Oct 18, 2009 12:54 pm

I was reading Kairol Rosenthal's latest blog post about dealing with fear, and took a look at one of the commenter's blogs. Lori Hope (her real last name; you can't make this stuff up...) addresses the same 'what not to say to a cancer patient' from the perspective of a lung cancer (she calls it 'Breath Cancer') patient stuck in the pink overload of October:
http://www.carepages.com/blogs/helpshurtsheals/posts

Be warned, if you go to the Beliefnet link for her guest post there, popups and ads abound. But Lori's post is completely on point.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment

rock

Re: The stupid things people say

Postby rock » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:10 pm

I so understand your feelings----So many times people don't think!!!!
I don't want people to feel sorry for me_________I WANT PEOPLE TO WAKE UP-------CANCER CAN HAPPEN TO ANYONE!!!!!
Some of my co-workers think that I'm done and need to move on.[ I have worked everyday that I can---going thru my treatments this year----I still have to do follow ups with my Doctor!!!] One people said," Just think your cancer is gone and stop talking about it!!!"------My answer is I stop talking to her.----I said nothing. I pray that cancer doesn't happen to anyone!!! But I pray that she will understand someday that cancer carries alot of pain and sorrow to alot of people and it just doesn't go away. Everyone deal with cancer in different ways---And we need the support and understanding.Thanks for letting me share my thoughts!!

DX 2/09 stage II
rectal cancer 45years old
28 treatments of radiation @ 5-FU 24/7
surgery6/18/09 colostomy
8/18/09 2months treatments 5-FU ,
Leucovorin,@ Eloxatin
NED

girlnextdoor
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby girlnextdoor » Sun Oct 18, 2009 1:27 pm

I love Ron White!

I love these responses but I know I'll forget them. I'm usually so stunned that my brain shuts down.

Thanks for making me laugh!

Lisa
Husband, age 52, DX RC 8/2007
Stage III
5FU,Rad
Surgery (APR) 12/2007
FOLFOX
2 lung nodules 5/2008
HNPCC postive (MSH2 mutation)
Mets to lung 5/2009,lymph nodes
FOLFIRI, Avastin 7/2009
Xeloda 1/2010
Four children (18,15,12,11)

Lisa, loving wife

Rick7
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Rick7 » Sun Oct 18, 2009 2:06 pm

The worst is when your parents continue to say stupid things about your cancer.
I talked to my Onc about it - he said it is their way of dealing with it.

Rick
CC DX 1-7-09 at age 40 - Stage IV, T4-N1-M1
Surgery 1-16-09 - Folfox6 Feb-Aug 2009
Clear scans - PET/CT 9-09, CT 3-10, CT 9-10
Head MRI 3-11, CT 9-11
Head CT 2-12, PET/CT 9-12

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Gaelen
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Re: The stupid things people say

Postby Gaelen » Sun Oct 18, 2009 3:07 pm

I tried 'ignoring' my mom's comments about my surgeries and cancer treatments, and her complete disregard for how I felt on chemo weekends, hoping that her behavior would extinguish for lack of attention.
It didn't.

To some extent, your oncologist is correct that it is your parents' way of coping -- but y'know, if their way of coping involved breaking a municipal law (like speeding) there would be penalties and they wouldn't be allowed to keep breaking that law. To me, there's no excuse for being permitted to break social laws (like trying to be sensitive) just because *you* need to cope ... and that goes for both the insensitive commenters and the patients involved (we can be pretty rough around the edges some days, too.)

My 79yo mother isn't going to change her its-all-about-me focus, which she's been carefully honing for my whole life, just because I've got cancer. It's self-reinforcing behavior for her, so even if I don't pay attention to it other people do and focusing on herself makes her feel good. What I could and can do is make it clear, whenever she does it, that she's not helping. During my last treatment regimen, when mom persisted in planning things on weekends which were chemo weekends for me, I pointedly told her that I would be sleeping off chemo and couldn't come, and that her trying to make me feel guilty for taking the rest I needed wasn't helpful. I didn't expect her to stop having family dinners -- just stop expecting me to show up on chemo weekends. When she asked me to pick up a prescription for her (I was in an infusion chair at the time), I called a delivery service and had them bring it to her. She got the point, and started asking me if it was a chemo week before planning family events, and telling me more in advance when she was planning to drop off prescriptions to be filled.

I don't expect her to retain the lesson of trying to be conscious of when chemo is knocking me down, but I don't have to live with her being insensitive to what I need during chemo days, either. And the rest of the time, I just deal. As I said, she's not going to change -- so I have to minimize my exposure when I'm not up to it.
Be in harmony with your expectations. - Life Out Loud
4/04: dx'd @48 StageIV RectalCA w/9 liver mets. 8 chemos, 4 surgeries, last remission 34 mos.
2/11 recurrence R lung, spinal bone mets - chemo, RFA lung mets
4/12 stopped treatment


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