I'm finding this thread really helpful, even although it's three years old. It appears I have breast cancer which is likely to be stage 2 B, only I can't be certain until I see the surgeon on Wednesday for the core biopsy results. I first found the lump earlier this month, and it appears to have spread to a lymph node.
Well intentioned friends have been saying all sorts of things which have driven me potty, but which so far I've swallowed. My Mother (who died 20 years ago) brought me up always to feel obliged to put other poeple's feelings first, to the obliteration of my own. (That was the 1950s.) I now question that philosophy.
So, to let off steam this afternoon, I've drafted the following email I might (or might not) send to well-intentioned frieds.
Dear Friends, All of You
There is some very good advice on the Internet on what not to say to someone with breast cancer, so I do hope none of you will take offence if I take inspiration and provide you with my own list. I’m sure, before now, I will have made these or similar mistakes myself and with the very best of intentions, but of course I’m now at the receiving end.
Please avoid the following.
1. Telling me about treatments, statistics, the experiences of family and friends, how good cancer care is nowadays and how many patients live a long time. Each patient is different, each cancer is differen (there are several different types of breast cancer alone), treatments vary, and can be very difficult and distressing to deal with. Saying to me, ‘You don’t know yet how it will be, some people don’t have any problems at all and it’ll be worth it in the end,’ is a well-intentioned attempt at reassurance, but is likely to cause a not terribly well-intentioned response. Ask the Cats.
2. Tell me I’m being brave or courageous, because I’ll be blunt back again; it’s suprising how cancer loosens the tongue. I am not 12 years old. I am, fundamentally, a scientist and believe in facing issues and getting on with them.
3. Saying ‘let’s talk soon’. Do I want to? Talk about what?
4. Telling me I must be worried. Am I? Have I said so?
5. Telling me to be positive. Why should I be?
5. Explaining life or anything else to me. I’ve actually got quite a good brain and I’ve been using it for 69 years.
Please remember, kind friends, it is only I who know what I think and feel on any particular day, at any particular time. This is a situation in which I need to be in control.
I do hope you all understand as I really don’t wish to blow up at anybody.
I feel a bit better for writing that, whether I send it or not.