Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

What do you say?

What do you say?

Posted by Danae on Jun 23, 2020 6:18 pm

I saw someone today, not friend, who does not know my health situation, but the rest of the people in the room know. He doesn't need to know.
What do you say when they ask you how are you doing? Are you okay, strong, healthy? You can see my short hair spot, so you know something happened. 
My first response is yes, I'm fine, doing good. Then it shots me, still forget sometimes, I have cancer! 
I tell people if they ask me directly or need to know. 
Where I come from cancer is still a bad word and older generation don't mention the word. 
It is personal choice to let people know but it doesn't seem right just to say hi, I'm doing good I have cancer

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Brighty on Jun 23, 2020 6:26 pm

Dan‍ you don't have to tell anyone anything you don't want to tell.    Sometimes people do a mass email to everyone  on their list just to update others every so often.   Or you could just tell your other friends ahead of time to give a heads up.   But really you don't owe anyone an explanation.    Only if you feel comfortable you can briefly  fill them in .   You dont have to give any details.   
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Laika57 on Jun 23, 2020 9:00 pm

Dan‍ Your question reminds me of when I first started learning English. As with most foreign languages, we started with greetings. I remember the prof telling us, that, if someone says "Hi, how are you?" It is the polite thing to say and they're really not all that interested in how you actually are. So to this day, my knee jerk reaction is "I'm fine, thanks, how are you?".
I say this without even thinking about it.
the other day I ran I to my husbands former boss. He doesn't know my husband has cancer, and i wasn't sure if I should say anything. So I told him I was "fine" despite it being a total lie that day. I kept wondering if I should have said something different. Stopped to chat. Whatever.
but in the end it wasn't my place to tell him. And he was just being polite. Not genuinely interested. I don't think. 
so, I guess in the end, what I am saying is that you know whom you are comfortable opening up to.
Admittedly, I don't think anyone reacted the way I expected. A lot of them were immensely supportive. (Except my whackadoodle dog walker who thought I owed her more attention than my ailing husband...) so I'm learning to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Anyhow, don't expect to keep it a secret. Especially if some people know. But you also don't need to print t-shirts and tell everyone...

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Wendy Tea on Jun 23, 2020 11:02 pm

Dan‍  Great post! As in most things in life, there are many different perspectives and ways of handling things. I am going to say that cancer survival rates are higher today than in past generations.  Here is your opportunity to explain how far we have come, where we are headed, and what we need to do to get there. Education is a powerful tool. On those days when you dont know what to say, you can take a brave approach. We are here to support you.
Healing takes time and opportunity. Wendy Tea

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Kims1961 on Jun 23, 2020 11:12 pm

Dan‍  Great question...your first line said it all..." He doesn't need to know".  Who we share with, is a personal decision.  Some people fear employment repercussions or from family.  

I met with a friend who was in my prenatal group.  When she heard i had cancer, she shared that she had as well.  She was too nervous to tell anyone - felt there is still stigma around this diagnosis.  She wished she could have shared, as it may have made her journey a little easier.

I was very open about my diagnosis.  Sometimes - even during treatment - i did feel fine, so i would say that.  I like the saying that we have cancer, we "aren't " cancer.  On days, I was struggling, I might say that chemo was really causing me difficult side effects.  Again - a very personal decision, and there may be people who aren't safe to share with.

I'm so glad you posted, as many of us are faced with this exact situation.

Thx, Kim
Her2+, ER+ Bilateral mastectomy in 2017, followed by chemo and radiation. Mack and Hannah's mom

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Rayline on Jun 23, 2020 11:48 pm

Dan‍ I have only shared my diagnosis with a handful of folks. I read on this site, my cancer my rules. You are not obliged to tell anyone only those people you feel comfortable with. This site is so helpful and a good place to share with folks that understand. 

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Marsh on Jun 24, 2020 7:30 am

This question really brought back memories! I went through Chemo during the summer months. It was hot so most days I was sleeveless and I had a PIC line in my right arm for the chemo infusion. I would wear a PIC cover on my arm to protect it. I was amazed at just how many people, (strangers) would come right out and ask me what it was for.  I wanted to say it was none of their business but most often just said it was for medication. A grocery store cashier wanted to know if I was on Dialysis. I said NO and left it at that! Another came right out and asked me what type of cancer I had!! Then she went on to tell the story of how her sister had died from liver cancer. I was stunned. I had no problem with my friends, family and co-workers knowing what I was going through but I didn't feel it necessary to tell strangers! I can't imagine asking someone that!

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Whitelilies on Jun 24, 2020 1:53 pm

Dan‍ Hello
I am in agreement with "It is a personal decision".
Sharing....my own experiences......is that even IF you tell someone, this "does not equate to support".
So.....just know....that "telling" does NOT mean the person will act/do/support......in fact.....they may head for the hills !

Keep strong......



Re: What do you say?

Posted by Lianne_adminCCS on Jun 24, 2020 3:30 pm

Great post. As has been said, who and when you tell something is entirely up to you. I am generally an open book but just because I am okay talking about it one day does not mean I am the next. I think sometimes when we chose to not tell particular people there is a reason for it - maybe we think we will be judged or not supported so it is self-preservation in a way.

As to whether the question of  if How are you is genuine. I find if I say "I've been better", there will be follow up questions for those who do genuinely care . Thee rest will look like deer in the headlights ha

Do what feels right for you at the end of the day Dan.


Re: What do you say?

Posted by Tilly59 on Jun 24, 2020 7:29 pm

I have sort of the opposite problem/feeling.  When people who already know my diagnosis, and ask how I'm doing.  Do I say "just fine" or do I tell the truth that I have stage 4 cancer with 2 to 5 years to live, so what a stupid  question to ask me.  Of course, I'm polite but it bothers me each time.  I guess  that I'm overally emotional.  But like everyone says, just fake it and say your fine.  It is your life after all.  Take good care.

Re: What do you say?

Posted by SpeedyStill on Jun 24, 2020 8:59 pm

I  have read your post and the comments that followed.
Being a 10 year Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Survivor, having a mass on my Kidney that may or may not be Cancer and other health issues.
This question rings bells in my head. 
I was diagnosed December 2009, tested, analyzed, staged and then put on Chemotherapy treatments. Being a man and thinking bald is cool, a friend and his wife came to the Condo and shaved my head.
My family and friends new my situation, so I got lots of sympathy and I hope empathy. People who didn't know didn't ask the question because they could tell that I was not doing great.
Now once the treatments were finished and I was declared Cancer free the sympathy and empathy slowly dissolved.
As everyone knows Cancer Free, toal remission whatever it is called the journey never ends.
So I learned the same lesson over and over again the question for some people has no meaning. The majority of people expect a response of "doing great" or at least "good".
There are those few people who actually want to know how you are doing but even they become weary over time.
I have learned that knowing myself and knowing my audience gives me a better idea how to respond to any greeting question.
I am a work in progress learning as I go.
When someone in this Community asks me this question I know that they do care.
Dan, I hope you can find your comfort zone when dealig with questions like this.
Take Care

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jun 24, 2020 10:14 pm

Dan‍ Once I got my mind around my diagnosis, I found it easier to talk about what was happening to me. But I choose who I want to tell. Strangers, it's none of their business. My bald head chemo phase a few strangers would comment on the scarf, hat, etc. I was wearing and I would say "thanks" and end it.

The people that I gave more details about my breast cancer diagnosis, I still found said "stupid" things. Stupid things like "I would get them both removed and be done with it" or "you'll have new "perky" boobs". Hate "perky" now. Unless you've been or going through a cancer diagnosis, you don't know what you'd do.

I must say that since being diagnosed I word things differently when I hear about someone else being diagnosed and try not to use the phrases that annoy me. And since being diagnosed I can't seem to get away from hearing the word "cancer". More tv shows have a Cancer character too.

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Danae on Jun 24, 2020 10:34 pm

Thank you for the responses, they are really helpful and make me think in which stage of awareness I am. Maybe I should start there.
I know the journey just started but not planning on cutting it short or let sadness to ruin what is left. Which I hope are more than the numbers.

Re: What do you say?

Posted by Buffythevampire on Jun 24, 2020 10:51 pm

Dan‍ In my opinion, a positive outlook will help with healing/coping. When I was about to get my first chemo treatment, my nurse said to not think of it as poison. I said to her that I was thinking of it as "medicine"or Buckley's "tastes awful but it works" and I actually had very manageable chemo side effects.