Monday, January 4, 2010

Cancer Etiquette


I find myself answering a great deal of correspondence as of late with comments like this: “My friend (sister/co-worker/niece/mom/aunt/etc) has just been diagnosed and I just don’t know what to say!”; and as a fantastic paradox, they think I might be able to supply them with some sage words of wisdom. Hilarious! As I am fresh out of sage words (but with plenty of thyme…couldn’t resist), I thought I would pass on a few tips on what NOT to say. And yes, some of them were actually passed my way by a few folks who will remain unnamed. For obvious reasons.

“WHAT are you doing in the ladies room? Oh wait, are you a girl?” – yes, if you are 6 feet tall and bald, people assume you are a boy and a basketball player.

“Gosh, I thought chemo was supposed to make you lose weight” – this one actually came from a habitual dieter.

“Really, a partial mastectomy? What side?” – from a gentleman who wasn’t looking at my eyes. ‘Gentleman’ term used loosely.

“It hardly looks like you are wearing a wig!” – hardly? I sort of look like I am wearing a wig?

“Get the purple wig, that will be the most fun” – never take advice from a 10-year-old theater buff.


“You look tired. I mean, I have never seen anyone look like that and still be mobile”
– friend. No, really. Someone I actually consider to be friendly.

“They say if you are having a boy, your backside will get really big. I think you are having a boy. Maybe it’s just the chemo.” – from someone who, if that rule applied, would be carrying quintuplet boys. For several decades.

“Do you feel that now that you have lost some of your femininity?”
– medical students. God love ‘em, they really do want to know everything.

“Come on, one little drink won’t hurt during chemo.” – Oncology nurse. Not kidding. She was plastered at the time, so that one shouldn’t count…

“Um, did you see that one supermodel who had cancer? She still looks really hot. Really. She doesn’t even look like she ever had kids, either.”
– I don’t even want to tell you who said that one.

2 comments:

Kristin said...

LMAO can I say that as a Pastor's wife?

Emily said...

Hello there! I'd be happy to set up a chat with Peggy Post from the Emily Post Institute if you'd like some pointers on how to respond to these kinds of unbelievable comments!
Great blog!
Best wishes,
Elizabeth Howell
Director of Marketing & Public Relations
elizabeth@emilypost.com