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How to keep people from hugging?

How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Amma on Oct 22, 2019 10:05 am

this sounds like a joke topic but it is very real to me. I have advanced lung cancer that has infiltrated my ribs and spine. Mostly, when I see people baring down on me, arms extended, there is time for me to hold up my hands and ask that they don’t hug. Yesterday, in a busy room, a women I don’t know well, and as it turns out did not know about my illness, moved too fast.  Not only did she embrace me in a bear hug, she clapped in on the back right over my bad spot, three times hard before I shoved her away. Then I had to backtrack, explain and apologize and she looked stricken. What do people do? Do you have a button made that says something like “no hugs”? I am still sore where she banged on my back and afraid someone may literally break me.

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Faye on Oct 23, 2019 4:28 am

Amma‍ 
Im not sure what the answer to your question would be but can understand how this could be very harmful And painful to your body.
Im glad you are able to stop the hug when you see it coming but for that unexpected one maybe all you can do is forcefully tell them to stop and explain later..
I know not much help hopefully someone else will give you advice.
Wishing you well from another lung cancer survivor 
Faye

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by mc2 on Oct 23, 2019 7:28 am

Amma‍ The title of your post made me smile.  I would like to have a way to stop people who barely know me from hugging!  I "fended off" the well-meaning VP at my work with cart ;) More seriously, here are a few tactics I have used:

- lean in with the better side and shoulder (a bit like  aboxer), if there is a better side. if a foot and shoulder are more forward, it is harder to give/get a strong embrace
- when caught off guard, I quickly said "soft soft soft please" (some times with a bit of a panicky tone to my daughter ;)
- protect with an object e.g cart or purse or something in your hands so people don'have "easy access". two deinks would also work.  something to create a pause... so you can tell them...
- use the French "kisses on the cheeks" whenever I can (i may not suggest that one to youdepending where you live ;)

And of course, telling people or getting them to know via a third party. A friend/colleague of mine lost her daughter to cancer and she could not stand to be asked "how are you doing?" when she started coming back to work as it would automatically cause her to start crying rather uncontrolably which is not what she wanted to do at work.  Her strategy was to ask me and a few other allies to tell people this whenever possible.  So whenever I had a chance, for example when someone was inquiring to me how she was doing, I would tell them someting like "she is managing and being back at work is helpful to her but it is particularly hard when there are interuptions and when peolple ask how she is doing out of the blue".  It helped everyone.

Hope this helps a bit.  I like the button idea too. Or a tshirt that says "No hugs right now"?  Take care.

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Wendy Tea on Oct 23, 2019 10:15 am

Hi Amma‍ , yes, this is a big problem with breast surgeries too. My suggestion is to turn to the side so your shoulder faces them and say very softly Gentle Gentle.

Also I found when people asked how I was doing, I burst into tears. This was partly due to my weakened state from surgery, low iron levels, and a drug reaction. 

Know that tears are ok. People need to know if you are struggling and do not be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

Best wishes
Wendy Tea 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by CentralAB on Oct 23, 2019 11:57 am

Amma:
this sounds like a joke topic but it is very real to me. I have advanced lung cancer that has infiltrated my ribs and spine. Mostly, when I see people baring down on me, arms extended, there is time for me to hold up my hands and ask that they don’t hug. Yesterday, in a busy room, a women I don’t know well, and as it turns out did not know about my illness, moved too fast.  Not only did she embrace me in a bear hug, she clapped in on the back right over my bad spot, three times hard before I shoved her away. Then I had to backtrack, explain and apologize and she looked stricken. What do people do? Do you have a button made that says something like “no hugs”? I am still sore where she banged on my back and afraid someone may literally break me.

 
Im sorry you have this problem to deal with. I have a family member who has to worry about that same problem, for different reasons. What they do is just flat out, step back, say "Please Stop!" or "stop!" and then quickly/briefly explain. If the person grabs you too quickly and you dont have time to react first, just yell it out! You have to protect yourself. Or, you could in some situations try pre-emptively, just telling everyone in the room not to touch you and tell them why. I am sure if people know they will try to be helpful. My family member is pretty bold. She just belts it out nice and loud so everyone knows. :)

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by CentralAB on Oct 23, 2019 11:59 am

another, similar concern is a kiss good bye. My family member is immune-compromised and during flu season especially cannot kiss anyone or let them kiss her, as risk is too high. So they do it pre-emptively and just tell people before they go to say good bye when visiting. No Kissing!

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by WestCoastSailor on Oct 23, 2019 2:07 pm

Amma‍ ,

This is indeed a real concern. Just goes to show there is no such thing as a silly question.

Though it doesn't work in every situation I found a surgical mask was pretty effective. Not so much for preventing germs cause there is some pretty good evidence that it doesn't if not worn properly and combined with hand washing. But as a signal that something is wrong and people should talk before they rush in to hug and kiss. It gives you the opportunity to explain and then bump elbows or whatever your chosen method of receiving affection is. Human touch is important and we shouldn't forgo it so finding ways to let it happen are important.

Angus

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Amma on Oct 23, 2019 3:53 pm

Thank you for all the good advice. TI live in a small town, 4000 population, and have wrongly assumed that everyone knew of my situation.  Things change.  At first, I was very secretive and only wanted those close to me to know. Now I find it is so helpful that people know ahead before encountering me. It lessens the shock for them and then I don’t have to explain which will always cause an uncontrolled burst of tears. All in all, I am comforted and amazed by the love and caring that comes from those I really don’t know well. My close friends and family are amazing, but it is remarkable what others are able to give. Since the hugging incident, I have talked to this person the phone and reassured her, something I don’t think I would have bothered with pre-diagnosis. 

So here’s a thought for the day: could being in a situation where you are faced with reasonably certain impending mortality(obviously everyone is all the time or maybe we need reminding) make some one a better/ nicer person? 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Wendy Tea on Oct 23, 2019 5:14 pm

Amma‍ , that is such a wicked question !  Every day I try to be a better version of myself. I struggle with impatience.  I get frustrated. Obviously my way is the best way. No one is truly perfect, but I feel I have succeeded if I honestly try my best to be a better person. We could all be more compassionate. 
Try to laugh and share every day.
Best wishes
Wendy Tea 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Treepeo on Oct 23, 2019 7:23 pm

Hi Amma,

I have cancer in both breasts.  I went through the usual battery of tests, including 8 biopsies.  With the exception of scans, every test caused me a lot of pain.  So my breasts hurt really badly for weeks.  What I did was I contacted a few people and told them to pass the word that no one could hug me tightly, and that they had to give me a chance to protect my chest.  I have also had relative strangers move in for a hug and I just said, "Be gentle, please, I'm hurting."  People mean well, and it just seems natural to give someone a hug.  But it is totally okay to ask people to stop, or to be gentle, or to back up.

I cannot imagine the pain you are experiencing with your metastatic lung cancer.  Are you currently undergoing any treatment, and is there anything you can take for the pain?

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Mammabear on Oct 24, 2019 2:38 pm

Great topic. I have hand sanitizer at the door. Walk in and use it. AND I don't hug. I do wear a mask in public and have had to be very vigilant taking steps back or keeping my distance to prevent the 'surprise hug'. And i am a hugger so this is hard for me but I can't risk the infection and missing treatments. Going into flu season no one should be hugging even if they are healthy. 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by fargiemargie13 on Dec 3, 2019 6:08 pm

My physio said that a cane which I use now for getting around really helps with the no hugging. And it's true. I have mets in my ribs as well and hugs are absolutely painful. 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by frozenstar on Dec 4, 2019 9:30 am

Sometimes its a tough call..I myself dont want hugs bc they hurt etc as u guys know...but a few years back I was working as a clerk at Sally Beauty Supply. I was just ready to close up the shop, it was late, and an elderly lady came in, she was looking at every item in the store. It seemed like she needed help but not with Beauty Supplies. So I went up to her, and I asked her if she needed any help, and then I asked her what's wrong? The lady burst into tears, she told me she had cancer and that no one wanted to touch her, and so I did I hugged her very softly and gently for I guess maybe 10 minutes. I suppose I just let her cry on me. Afterwards we got some Kleenex ,she wiped her eyes, she thanked me and she left the store, and I finished locking up. I never forgot that lady so I guess in some ways it's a tough call. My oncologist always pats me on the shoulder very softly at the end of the visit. I guess he knows to but yet realizes that we need human touch sometimes.  Those little pats help me somehow.

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Runner Girl on Dec 4, 2019 9:43 am

frozenstar‍ , what a wonderful story and a fantastic display of human compassion.  Thank you so much for what you did for that lady.  You were a true hero that day.

Runner Girl

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Treepeo on Dec 4, 2019 10:36 am

I agree, frozenstar‍, your story really touched my heart.  How kind of you to let that poor woman "cry on you".  That was wonderfully compassionate of you.

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Lyne on Dec 5, 2019 9:38 am

A lot of good tricks Amma‍ , thank you for asking the question as I was wondering the same.  
My husband's family is very "huggy" and generally ends the hug with a slap on the back.  And it hurts.
I didn't want to hurt people's feelings, but I also have to protect myself from the pain.  So I clearly said that there was to be no hugs. 
I did speak to my lowered ability to fight infection, and that by keeping my distance from people I am protecting myself.  It helped.
I am thinking of all the other tricks that were suggested, and I will remember them when in a social situation, as it's hard to avoid people you haven't seen in a while approach you.
Thanks for asking the question, and thank you everyone for the suggestions 😀
 

Re: How to keep people from hugging?

Posted by Marylaf on Dec 7, 2019 9:29 pm

I love hugging now more than ever. I have bone mets and yes some spontaneous fractures. No on gives me bear hugs. Diff culture? Gentle little hugs where shouldets just touch. For the patters ( me included), they are very gentle, like for a newborn. They are imbued with the gentlest love.
It is okay to adjust the hug... you don't have to turf the baby out with the bath water!