Seriously?

“The best drama comes from otherwise normal human living and the best comedy comes from awful shit.”  Isn’t that brilliant? I wish I had said it. I was chatting with a friend about television series we both watch and like me, she is kind of drawn to the comedies about illness, addiction, criminal activity etc and she made that comment.  Like me, again, she has recently suffered the unexpected loss of a loved one and had to deal with all that followed.  Today my mother and I went to see about a grave marker.  The lady that waited on us knows us all and was visibly upset about my sister.  We saw one we both liked almost immediately but we did not want to order anything until her significant other could give his opinion. We were just doing the preliminary footwork.  We were standing around chatting and the woman asked how I was doing. I assumed she was referring to my cancer so I said “almost done treatment”.  She looked shocked and I couldn’t help but say “seriously? you didn’t think this hair was a fashion statement did you?”. She laughed and then told me about another woman she knows undergoing treatment whose hair came in gray and curly and how lovely it was. Then she launched into some pretty horrifying stories about people she knows with cancer that now have mets to the brain.  Now my mother has just buried one daughter and the other has cancer. She looked shell shocked.  This conversation went on for what seemed like forever until she paused in her litany of horror to mention how one of them got shingles in the midst of everything else and I pounced on that. I told my mother I needed to look into whether I was at greater risk for shingles having had radiation and after successfully changing the subject we made a hasty retreat.  I had a phone conversation that went pretty much the same way over the weekend.  Someone knew someone with the same diagnosis as myself and they died.  I offered their stage may have been higher, their treatment not as aggressive, etc. and was told “If you can think that way, that’s good!”   Thankfully, as my television preferences will attest, I have a pretty twisted sense of humor and I am able to laugh comments like that off and even make plenty of distasteful comments of my own (about my own situation, I would cut out my tongue before I would joke about anyone else’s cancer), but you gotta wonder what the thought process is when people let words just fall out of their open mouths with no supervision whatsoever. I mean, seriously?

Prior to that fun little field trip I had my radiation treatment.  Today they had to take measurements and make plans for the final 8 treatments that will be just to the tumor bed itself.  The two techs explained everything they were doing and said the doctor would be in to make his recommendations.  My doctor was off today so it would be the “other guy”. I was drawn on and measured and repositioned and was lying on the table when the doctor came in. He said not one word to me. Never made eye contact or acknowledged me in any way at all.  He peered at me and made a few comments to the techs and walked out. I felt like a disembodied boob.  It was seriously the most uncomfortable feeling I have had since this entire thing started.  Seriously.

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13 comments

  1. Tracey · July 30, 2012

    People honestly don’t know what to say. That they should say nothing if they don’t know what to say does not occur to them. People said the dumbest things to me when I was going through it, which is why I told practically no one until I was nearly done with treatments. Now that everything is over, everyone knows, but there’s nothing for them to say. I like it like that.

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  2. decisionsformyfamily · July 30, 2012

    I agree that often people don’t know what to say which is why they should just shut up! I would not have handled it with the grace that you did and I commend you for that! I would have probably said WTF right to her….my mouth often does get me into issues. People are unbelievably rude!

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  3. Patricia Ouellette · July 31, 2012

    See I told you one might think that it was just a really short hair cut. However the story that followed after was seriously not needed. I look forward to seeing the marker once it’s been placed but I’m sure that’ll be a while. The boys have asked about “her stone” as they call it. I’m thinking we may stop by after a dentist appointment on Wednesday and put out a few new flowers. As far as your cancer goes I love your outlook and find your sense of humor about it to be a pleasure. But I think everyone struggles at times with what the right thing to say is. Clearly discussing others dying especially now isn’t the right thing. I’m with your mom on this no one else can go for another 25yrs. While that may not be feasible we can certainly pray for health and safety of all our family & loved ones. I think of Deb & you all every single day.

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  4. embracing chemo · July 31, 2012

    Absolutely! The comments some people make never cease to amaze me. I am in awe of your strength in deflecting them for you and your Mum. You are exceptional :).
    Belinda x

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  5. lawyermomfashionista · July 31, 2012

    :eyeroll

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  6. Susan · July 31, 2012

    My brother in law did the same thing, telling awful stories about people who have died from cancer etc etc ad nauseum. I was not as graceful as you, told him off and now he does not call so often. Heh I really don’t care!

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  7. onwardandupwardblog · July 31, 2012

    I hear ya and can relate…I seriously can deal better with the “I don’t know what to say” comment than with a horrific comparison to someone else dying.

    Hang in there…you are doing great.

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  8. kymlucas · August 2, 2012

    I agree that people really are clueless about what to say. Now I’m done with treatment and have hair again — albeit poodle/sheep style — people are always telling me how great I look. I always want to say, “Compared to what?” and sometimes I do.

    Then my cousin, who just finished treatment a week or so ago, was telling me she’s had two people she barely knows ask about her prognosis. Gee, why not just come out and ask if she’s going to die? That’s what they’re asking anyway.

    But to have someone tell you about people who suffered horribly while you’re in the middle of treatment — that goes beyond not knowing what to say. I’d think at some point in her spiel that woman would have realized what she was saying and just stopped and apologized.

    Going through treatment for cancer (and probably anything else) is so bizarre. Like you, I think the only way to get through is to keep your sense of humor, as you clearly have.

    Hang in there.

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  9. Heather · August 2, 2012

    Hi I’m Heather! Please email me, I have a question about your blog!

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  10. Susan · August 3, 2012

    I had a doctor once who treated me as an object and didn’t acknowledge me. I called him on it. Said it was rude and, as his client, I deserved better., especially since I had such great frespect for him. I got an apology–and it was followed up by a written one. Speak out. Doctors are not our gods, they are individuals who are providing a service at our choosing. @#$! doctors.

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  11. The Presents of Presence · August 19, 2012

    I had a doctor once to whom I sobbed and begged him to take out my implants b/c I was in terrible pain…and he refused ~ later I found out that he refused b/c it would taint his perfect reputation of never having to redo implants! Honestly…some have no shame.

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