If you have nothing good to say ….and other lessons

So life lesson this week was no one wants to hear a cancer patient complain.  Even a tiny little complaint will be met with a panicked “STAY POSITIVE”. I think I am fairly positive most of the time. I try to focus on the fact that I have had very few of the really horrific side effects that so many others in my boat suffer from and for that I am grateful. Doing a quick mental inventory of the people who I interact with daily, both in person and otherwise, I probably complain far less than most, especially about health issues.  When I commented to a relative that I was struggling with my concentration and fatigue, the response made me feel like I should keep those kinds of things to myself unless I am sitting in my physician’s office and since I always have a family member with me during oncology visits, I now feel like I should temper the complaints even then, lest I upset someone.  When I vented to some friends about how that response made me feel I was given a laundry list of excuses for the relative, again making me feel as though I should have kept my feelings to myself.  One lesson I am taking from this is to be a good listener and not try to minimize other people’s feelings or, worse yet… tell them how they should be feeling. The second lesson is to stay positive. Even if you have to lie 🙂




  1. rachturner · February 20, 2012

    No one wants to hear a cancer patient complain because it scares them. They have confront the reality of what you are going through and also process the possibility that it could be them some day going through this. They also feel an overarching urge to keep a patient’s spirits up. It is unrealistic to expect a person going through cancer treatment to be positive 100% of the time. You need to be real about your experience, and especially with those closest to you. The most important take-away from this experience to NOT stop being 100% honest with your doctor – even if it sounds like a complaint and even if a relative is present who might think you are being negative. Your doctor needs to know everything you are experiencing and feeling – not just the physical symptoms, but the emotional and psychological ones as well. You can’t separate your feelings from your treatment experience – it’s all one big package. The key is to stay positive as much as you can because I think that is good for your overall health and recovery, BUT accept that there are going to be days when you are just simply having a hard time with it all. And that’s ok. Be yourself, because who you are is very special! 🙂


  2. Loopynutter · February 20, 2012

    I have no words!!!! Actually yes I do …. Oh my god I am so angry for you right now…. How on earth could someone related to you be so so unthoughtful… Please please ignore them…

    What you are going through is traumatic enough without having to walk on egg shells… You are one of the most positive people I’ve come across and your blogs are a constant source of enjoyment to me… I like you try an surround myself with positive people so if someone is upsetting you…. Don’t see them ;-)…

    You had every right to vent… Vent away!!! And remember keep dancing 😉 x


  3. eddiesandcurrents · February 20, 2012

    I’ve found that in many ways it seems easier for me to deal with having cancer than for others to deal with my having cancer. I think that we cancer patients get a lot of projected feelings from others. Also, in life in general, people are poor listeners, mostly thinking of what they want to say instead of truly listening to another person. I’ve had very few people ask me how I’m doing and then actually listen to my response. You do what is best for you, and no, you won’t be positive every minute, even if that’s your overall attitude. You’re a human being having a cancer experience. And being human is first and foremost.

    Sending good vibes your way.


  4. Sheryl · February 20, 2012

    I agree with Eddie and the others. People, at least in my experience may ask how you are feeling. And maybe it’s not even that they don’t want to hear anything negative, they just have no idea what to say. But u know what? That’s not my problem. I don’t mean to sound mean but I think it’s very important to vent and be honest especially with your doctor . Heck I’m not positive a lot of the time….in fact on several occasions your posts have really lifted me up so thank you for that. Especially the cute pics, where DO you find them! Just keep talking sista cause we are all listening. And as you told me once, keep venting and feel better!


  5. sarenaperez · February 20, 2012

    I tend to be a lot less accommodating than most. And I HAAAATE the panicked “stay positive!!!! “. The Anger part of the 5 stages of grief starts to really kick in when people tell me what I need to do or how I should feel. People seriously just do not get it.


  6. Susan · February 20, 2012

    Agree with all responses here. Vent if you have to. I do and fortunately for me I am lucky that people do listen and respond. I do get some panicked stay positive replies but it does not stop me from saying how I feel. We are going through a terrible part of our lives and if people cannot deal with it so be it, but please be true to yourself and say how you are feeling, regardless of what people say in return. Keeping feelings buried only hurts you. I love your blog, and hope I can be regarded as a cancer friend.


  7. bgillen · February 20, 2012

    Find your “person”. Your person will let you vent and yell and explain and describe all you are going through. They won’t pass judgement, they won’t repeat what you tell them. They are just there for you. It’s important for your own piece of mind that you have someone to vent to and to cry on. Your person could be a professional, a relative, a friend or a spiritual advisor. Whoever you are most comfortable with.

    No one who hasn’t gone through what you are can understand. Tell the minimum to reassure them that the fight is still in you, but return to your person as often as needed.


  8. Carina · February 20, 2012

    You can complain to me.

    Lucky for me, I have two people who don’t tire of my endless complaints. They happen to be not my blood relative…But most say, “it will get better,” when I complain. I know what you mean.

    🙂 Smile when you feel like it, frown when you want. 😦


  9. Candida Abrahamson PhD · February 21, 2012

    I’m so sorry this happened to you, as it goes along a list I keep in my head of annoying things people say to cancer patients. AND, they’re wrong. I’ve been doing research on this (post comes out tomorrow–check it out for ammunition at http://candidaabrahamson.wordpress.com –“Getting Good and Angry”), and it turns out that people who suppress emotion: tend to develop cancer more, do more poorly after their diagnosis, and even develop more side effects from treatment. Those who express anger and hostility overall do better. If you have nothing good to say–keep talking. It just might keep you well.


  10. dropjohn · February 21, 2012

    people want it to be over – you want it to be over.

    but it’s not.

    honesty wins – especially when it’s your doctor!


  11. Misifusa · February 21, 2012

    We, who have been there, done that, got the t-shirt and more…WE UNDERSTAND and can empathize so please, feel free to complain to me. I agree with all the others who have written from such loving places in their hearts to you. Some just don’t know what to say, what to do and they are uncomfortable…be yourself, be honest and know that whatever you are feeling, is right for you, right at this time. 🙂 You can be positive and still complain when you need to vent! Hugs to you.


  12. azahar · February 24, 2012

    Unbelievable, isn’t it? Well, here’s a cheat sheet of snappy comebacks for the next time someone says something thoughtless and idiotic, even if you just say them in your mind…



  13. travelladywithbaby · February 24, 2012

    No one, and I mean no one should ever make you feel you need to hide your feelings.
    Cry, punch a wall, get angry, break a dish, who cares what they think!. I have only been a caregiver, but I would never have wanted or would want to make any family member feel that my feelings were more important than what they are going through.


  14. Herdy · February 25, 2012

    I have struggled with positivity this week – I think to expect us to constantly be positive is wildly unrealistic…you’re gonna have bad days and you’re gonna need to talk about it. I’ve done my fair share of crying, stamping my feet and complaining this week….and I felt better because of it and soon found my way back to being positive….but only because my friends and family let me moan a bit!


  15. mainelyhopeful · February 28, 2012

    Thanks for all the responses ladies. I know you all understand and have been there 🙂


  16. Pingback: Versatile Blogger Award–Thanks! « The Savvy Sister
  17. themidlifesecondwife · March 9, 2012

    Just want to say that I’m honored to have you among my readers. Thank you for signing on to follow my blog, because it led me to yours. I’m so sorry you’re going through this ordeal. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and, as an old Unitarian friend used to say, I’ll “hold you in the light.”

    Be well,


  18. It's Just About The Hair! · March 31, 2012

    Cancer, it really is just a possitivity test, isn’t it?
    It just makes my bare eyes blink!

    Everytime I hear the “Keep Positive”, I think, I am not positive? Really? When did that happen? … Oh, yeah, when I was being truthful about Cancer, its side effects, and mortality rate. But wait, wasn’t the you that asked me?

    Love your blog …


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