Before I had cancer, I was clueless about what to say to any one I knew who was going through this. Luckily, I haven’t known many who have had to have chemotherapy. Thanks to you, you have taught me what it feels like to be loved and supported. 99.9 percent of the time you say the right thing at exactly the right time. And of course, I know everyone means well and it’s my own idiosyncrasies that get the best of me. Of course, you might be surprised at a few things I’ve heard. So, on this eve of my next chemo, I thought I’d share with you my top personal peccadillos.
- “You look good.” — Even if you think it’s true, it’s not true for me and I’m going to assume you are just trying to make me feel better. If you’re going to say it, go big or go home. “You look beautiful” says something totally different, right? Billy and my daughters remind me of this often. How lucky am I?
- “You sound good.” — This is particularly annoying when all I’ve done is answered the phone and said ‘hello’. Even on my worst days, I can manage to say hello without sounding bad.
- “If I were you…” — Never finish this sentence. Nothing good ever follows ‘If I were you…” In fact, I can’t think of a time when this is ever a good thing to say.
- “I thought people lose weight during chemo?” Yup, I’ve heard it!
- “ You’re doing great.” — This is the most common thing I hear, even from my docs. I know it’s meant as encouragement. But I’m not doing that great nor would you be. I’m just “doing”. It might be better to ask, “what’s it like?” or even “how bad is it?”
- And coming into my 5th treatment tomorrow, my favorite of late is: “You’re almost done!” — I know that from the bleacher seats you can see both the 5th and 6th hurdles and the finish line, but down here on the field, I’m running as fast as I can and can barely see around the next corner. And even when I will be rejoicing at completing my sixth chemo treatment, I still have to have 13 more three-hour infusions every three weeks until December 30th. This is for two drugs, Herceptin and Perjeta, which they call biologics. (I’m not convinced they didn’t change the name of the class of drug from chemo to biologics to make us patients feel better.) These drugs don’t make you as sick as chemo, but there are still lots of fun side effects. In fact, it’s the Perjeta that wrecks havoc on my lower intestinal tract. I will also have to undergo radiation every day for 7 weeks starting in June, and then take a hormone pill for the next 5 to 10 years. So, while I understand that getting through the worst of the chemo is a big deal, this is something I am going to be dealing with for a long time. Now don’t worry! I promise I won’t be blogging about it for the next ten years, nor will I expect soup deliveries through 2025. My hair will grow back, I’ll lose the weight, I’ll be back to work, golf and everything else I love to do. Life will go on. But for right now, the only “done” I feel is “done”.
If you know anyone who has had cancer at any point in their lives, give ’em a ring and ask how they’re doing. It is bound to be appreciated.