I think this post, from back when I went through the breast cancer scare, bears repeating. Let me preface this by saying that I realize most peoples’ intentions are good, and most of us are awkward and say the wrong thing more often than not – goodness knows I do it all the time.
But. There are just some things that I would appreciate if people would refrain from saying. Personally I think the only appropriate things to say are “I’m sorry to hear your bad news,” and/or “Let me know if you need any help” – BUT PLEASE, only say that second thing if you really mean it. If you’re just saying it to make yourself feel better – please don’t say it.
And also, please avoid the following:
Three Four Things You Should Never Say to a Person in the Process of a Scary Medical Diagnosis
- Don’t worry, it’s probably nothing. This is actually two things – a two-fer! Of course I will worry. And of course it’s something. They think I have something growing where it shouldn’t be, that is causing some serious secondary symptoms. As in, my-heart-could-stop serious. It’s already something – I’ve been prescribed ineffective and unnecessary medications for nine years now that have, if anything, exacerbated the underlying condition and increased my risk of early mortality. That’s a big, huge, elephant-in-the-room kind of something.
- You’ve been through so much already. Of all people, you should be able to handle this. Why yes, yes I have. And I take the implication that I am a strong person as the highest of compliments – really, I do, because this is important to me. But you know what? I thought I should be able to handle this too. And I’m not doing so well. And that’s okay. Because the only thing I should be able to do is get to my appointments right now and get this thing taken care of. And I’m having a little trouble maintaining that, and a job, and trying to keep the rest of my life as normal as possible. So acknowledge that I’m handling it, but please, don’t tell me that you think I’m doing a poor job of it. It really is the best I can do.
- Everything will be okay. I don’t know that. You don’t know that. A well-respected UCLA specialist does not know that. There’s a pretty big chance that, once sorted out, everything *will* be okay. There’s also a smaller, much smaller, chance that everything *won’t* be okay. But even the two most likely outcomes – medication for life, or surgery – are far from okay. So please, don’t insult my intelligence. I know that’s blunt and bitchy, and I apologize for it. But it’s true.
- I trust it won’t come to that. When explaining to someone that one of the things I’m facing is the prospect of surgery (which scares the living bejeezus out of me, frankly), this was the response I got today. Needless to say, it did not make me feel better; in fact, it made me want to go hide somewhere and cry a little. Because of the three things that they think are causing the excess aldosterone problem – bilateral hyperplasia, benign tumor, or malignant tumor – the most common is the benign tumor. And benign tumors are removed via surgery.
Okay, pity party over. Hey, I’m entitled to it; I have to leave the house *twice* in the next couple of days without – gasp! – coffee in the morning.