Ouch That Still Hurts

This happened a few days ago. Just a couple of hours after I commented on another cancer blogger’s recent post that I am now less irked by the clichés people say to me, I got a message via Facebook from someone I had not spoken with in years, urging me to let go of all this cancer stuff.

Well I was a little more than irked. In fact I was quite hurt.

While the message was more personal than the trite “you’re so brave/ a warrior”, or “aren’t you a better person now”, it was still in the aren’t-you-over-it-now territory. There was a little bit of magical, fairy tale thinking to it. And it came from a person who’d had cancer many years ago, along with other personal tragedies, including a family member who died of breast cancer. So it was one cancer patient telling another how to “do” cancer.

I know the intention was one of goodness, this person truly wishes me well. But not having had an actual conversation with me in over five years, she has no clue where I am emotionally on anything, especially cancer. She managed to hit nearly every sore spot.

I blog for many reasons: to connect to others whose view or experience of cancer is not the sanitized TV version; to sort out the emotional fall-out; to express my rather cranky take on cancer so others, who feel the same way, don’t feel bad about it; to create a space for myself where I could vent without the lectures I’d received implying I was doing cancer wrong. I went back to Facebook earlier this year solely to create a page for my blog, in order to expand and strengthen connections to others with cancer. I use it as a source of news too, but that’s about it. I rarely post things about my life—I just hit like on the wacky things I like, at random. And oh yeah, this is why—as I’ve written often enough before, sometimes it’s just better to never discuss cancer with family or friends (I Can Pretend, My Reality and Your Fairy Tale, I’m Allowed).

I thought the stupid shit people said to cancer patients didn’t bother me as much as it did in the raw days during and after treatment. Nope, still does. Ouch, that unwanted advice still hurt me.

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Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

29 thoughts on “Ouch That Still Hurts”

  1. I hear ya. I blog for the same reasons. And there are fewer & fewer posts about my actual life, for many different reasons. But the first time someone has balls enough to tell me it’s enough already & to let it go….well….not gonna be pretty. Sorry someone cause you to feel that way. I love your blog. xx

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  2. I understand completely. I started blogging about breast cancer recently and my ex-husband said I should stop obsessing with cancer and just get on with my life already. I’ve been dealing with breast cancer off and on for 26 years and it has affected every area of my life. When I was a young cancer patient, there was no internet and I had no way of connecting with others my age, facing the same issues as I was. He is an ex for many reasons but his comments still hit their mark, leaving me just a little more battered and bruised than I was before.

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  3. I don’t get why it’s so hard for people to understand that a cancer diagnosis is traumatic and everyone handles that kind of trauma differently. While your friend my have had cancer and “gotten over it”, there’s no reason why you should. Giving someone unsolicited advice about how to handle trauma is a dick move. I wonder if she feels threatened by your refusal to get over it or if seeing you talk about cancer forces her to face things she’d rather not.

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    1. Interesting thought! I often think many people suppress fears and other feelings about cancer and claim to be “over it”, when in reality it is bubbling under. And all it will take is a recurrence or new cancer to throw them off. I’m not saying I’m better prepared for recurrence, but at least by keeping abreast of issues, I won’t be as unaware and caught off-guard as I was the first time around. And that has great value to me.
      Thank you for everything–connecting with you is one of the reasons I keep writing and using social media! It means everything to me! Hugs!

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  4. I love your honesty and clarity. Reading this post, and others written by you, has helped me understand why I write and why it’s important.
    I don’t really know what it means to “get over it.” But I do know that I will always be dealing with the emotional fall-out of my cancer and other traumas. “Getting over it” sounds like denying your true feelings. I’ve done enough of that in my life, and frankly, it made me sick. I’m gonna keep on working it through, keep on writing, keep on sharing. Thank you for sharing. You are helping me and I appreciate you.

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    1. You know it’s funny, I’ve accepted that I’ll never be over it, that it is just one of the things that are a part of me like all else that has happened to me. I just so happen to blog about it rather than all those other things. Funny how no one tells me to get over other stuff. Oh right, because talking about my fear of cancer reminds folks of things they don’t wanna confront. Sigh. Thanks for commenting!

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  5. oh CC,

    I am so sorry you had to endure that comment, especially from someone who hasn’t spoken with you for so long. I can understand exactly why it irked you, and why you felt hurt, too. well, Honey, she don’t know you like we know you…all the time and effort and compassion and caring and advocacy and rants we wish we could scream from rooftops that you give voice to has helped me so much. legions of people have read your blog posts and have been comforted, reassured, felt more hopeful, been validated and found they no longer are alone with how they have chosen to deal with it. you share your story with candor and sensitivity (with a healthy dose of curmudgeonly, wry humor), and give us a soft place to land where we can share our stories, too. so just carry on, dear CC – I love your blog, and I love you!

    OOXOO,
    Karen

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  6. Karen it goes without saying that your friendship is the BEST thing that has come of all this shitty mess called cancer. Validation is very key–I wanted it when I started blogging and I continue to provide it for others–and you remind me that I can and should do just that. (hmmm, new post idea?) Ha ha, with my prickly self, I DO hope I am providing some soft place to land. Thanks for always cheering me on!
    Love, xoxox Wendi

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  7. Reading the post 2-3 times, what resonates the most is how “mature” you are with your friend’s intentions.

    The fact that despite those intentions, the friend managed to state something you found completely inappropriate (and hurtful), to some extent reinforces that cancer is a personal thing.
    Some would say it’s the best thing that happened to them, others will hide it under the rug, others will change their life completely after it, others will…. The list goes on.

    Clearly, there’s only one who matters – it’s You.
    Thank you for blogging.

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  8. I am so happy that so many have responded to support you on this topic, I would hate to have to hunt down the idiot who basically told you to “get over it” and beat him/her with a wet noodle.

    Even if the day should ever come when you “are over it” you would still have to write and let the rest of us, who haven’t “gotten over it,” know how you did it. I’m not holding my breath for that day.

    Also, your blog and its message are not time-constrained and will be relevant for new bc patients, you have given a history of the emotional roller coaster ride that we all take after our diagnosis and are still on.

    Keep on keepin’ on!! {{{HUGS}}}

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  9. Thanks for reposting this. I’ve had friends say the same thing to me, and, yes, it hurt. And I didn’t know what to say. Then I finally got ticked off about it, and that led me to start saying, ‘well, if you don’t get it, I’d suggest you read my effing blog.’ Which led to a teeshirt, by the way. 😉 These days, if someone told me I should let go of ‘the whole cancer thing,’ I’d be inclined to tell them to let go of their whole invalidating-my-experience thing. It’s a progression. xxoo, Kathi

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    1. YES! I used to bemoan the lack of snappy comebacks to the Dumb Shit Said to Cancer Patients. The Dumb Shit bothers me less now, but every now and again…like this time describe here…UGH! So yep, I’m gonna start suggesting to people who say Dumb Shit to me that maybe they let go of their invalidating my experience thing! Thanks, what a great tip! Thanks Kathi–and I’ll have to look into your t-shirt! xxoo Wendi

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