SaY wHaT???

Day 7 of the WEGO Health Activists Writer’s Month Challenge (HAWMC). Has it really only been one week? Dang, this is harder than I expected. Today’s challenge is much easier than yesterday’s was, though: What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard about health or your condition?

There have been many ridiculous things said and written and passed along about my “condition.” Thanks to Komen, breast cancer is commonly thought of as the “good” cancer, the “pretty” cancer. You know, the one wrapped in a girlie pink ribbon and represented by rosy-cheeked, full-breasted warrior-women crossing the finish line of the race that’s allegedly going to “cure” my “condition.” (In fairness, it’s also thanks to Komen that my “condition” is one I can blog about without shame or fear or offending someone by using the word “breast.” Betty Ford gets credit for that, too. I can like Komen for de-stigmatizing my “condition” but still shake my head at its idiot pinkwashing.)

One of my all-time favorite ridiculous things said about my conditions is “Well, it sucks about the cancer, but at least you get new boobs.”

Ahem.

I didn’t need new boobs. I was just fine with the set I had. The new ones? Notsomuch. Perhaps this ridiculous statement applies to women who fall into the average age of those diagnosed with breast cancer — mid-60s. If I were 20 years older, I may well think, Hmmm, these old girls have served me well, but it wouldn’t hurt to have a little renovation. But I’m not 20 years older, and I don’t think that. What I do think, though is this: I sure miss my old boobs. And this: Is it wrong for me to envy my pink-ribbon sisters who had the “easy” path of mastectomy to tissue expanders to implants, rather than the not-so-easy path of mastectomy to tissue expanders to several fills of said expanders to infection under the right expander to draining both expanders to removing both expanders to hospitalization for 28 days in one summer to multiple surgeries to extract dead tissue to wound specialists and a wound vac to daily home-health nurse visits to clean and dress that wound to an IV pole in my very own home for round-the-clock IV antibiotics to a year’s worth of oral antibiotics to a hellish reconstruction to two (so far) revisions to try to make that hellish reconstruction’s results palatable. Is that wrong?

Another ridiculous thing said about my condition: “Well, you look good.”

Sigh.

Too bad the general public doesn’t have x-ray vision. Not the kind that lets creepy guys peep under women’s clothing (although I do like the idea of a creepy guy having his retinas burned by peeping under my shirt!), but the kind that lets people see what a breast cancer patient looks like on the inside. Not so good. During the hey-dey of the worst of my BC “journey,” I may have slapped on some lip gloss and clawed through my closet for a top that would accommodate the many stages of my chest expansion. I  may have smiled and said “I’m good” when asked how I’m doing in the midst of my own personal apocalypse. Maybe I looked good on the outside — a little sun on my cheeks is easy to achieve pretty much year-round in the great state of Texas. Maybe I portrayed a person who was faring well despite having both breasts removed — people do tend to see what they want to see, and I’m the queen of refusing to fly my vulnerability flag. Perhaps people just don’t know what to say. Either way, we cancerchicks may look good on the outside, but we feel like crap on the inside.

But the all-time most ridiculous thing ever said (to me) about my “condition” is this. Here’s the truth: if something as simple as eating a particular fruit or swallowing a particular supplement could cure cancer, it would. Period. End of story. Oncologists around the world would be out of work, infusion rooms and radiation centers would be rented out as party sites, and Big Pharma would go bankrupt.

If you’re tempted to share the latest internet craze for curing cancer with someone who’s actually dealing with cancer, let me quote Sweet Brown, my favorite meme:

bet.com

bet.com

 


10 Comments on “SaY wHaT???”

  1. Susan says:

    I am so sorry about what you went through with your reconstruction. I had a lot of failures with a radiated breast, but unlike you I was able to find a surgeon who could fix them and I was very lucky to find her. Still though, I miss the old boobs. You are so right about what we feel on the inside compared to outside. I did find it ridiculous though when I had my tissue expanders in and I would get guys staring at my really fake boobs. It was crazy!

  2. jbaird says:

    I can relate to so much of what you said. And “You look good”? I’ve been told that so many times I want to scream. I don’t feel good inside and you never told me I looked good before cancer entered my life. I knew you would have fun with this prompt! Write on. xo

  3. Wendy Langley says:

    Someone said red wine was full of cancer-fighting antioxidants (Yes, I still have time for “dat”). I am going to continue my research for red wine and I urge you to continue your champagne stats. When we are 80-85ish, we shall gather with our choice beverages to discuss the results.🙂. Which reminds me…I have GOT to pick up that soursop!

  4. I love that meme. And it never ceases to amaze me the purely asinine things people announce to someone suffering from a catastrophic illness.It’s bad enough that you had to go through all those horrendous things without listening… to lets just say it… a bunch of stupid shit from people who don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Big hugs to Doll, you are one of the bravest people I know.

  5. Sweet Brown sums it all up very nicely. For the well meaning but ridiculous things people say . . . ain’t nobody got time for that. This post, and your experience, so blow the ‘at least you get new boobs’ wayyyyyyy out of the water. Ridiculous!

  6. Wendy says:

    Love this. If only Sweet Brown knew how on-point she was. I have NO time for the comments about my new boobs. Thank you for this post.

  7. Love this post. It’s so right on. If I had some energy right now, I’d share a couple of stories about things that were said after my son-in-law was killed in a car accident.

    I think people just don’t how to respond. My daughter and I finally decided we’d just give them credit for meaning well and let it go.

  8. Renn says:

    To my sistah who also went through tissue expander hell, great post!
    I think what I hated most: all the “positives” people would spin at me.

  9. Paul Blais says:

    I am so grateful for this post. You are correct about so many things. I am struggling so much with my own story and am scarred (bladder cancer: http://paulblais.blogspot.com/2013/02/brave.html) I didn’t even know that the thoughts I’ve been having about other’s comments to me were bothering me so much or why. You nailed it! I can’t stand all the unsolicited advice about the sure fire way to cure my cancer or the comments about how good I look. I think some people think I ought to be looking like a Holocaust victim (sometimes it seems like my “good” appearance is a disappointment for their need to feel really sad for me.)
    I’m ranting, but also crying. Thank you for your clear articulation of our struggle.
    Love from a stranger,
    Paul Blais
    PS- I just got word that my cancer is back and spreading. But I look good! (http://paulblais.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunny-and-dark.html)
    …and I am becoming a follower or your blog.

  10. pdblais says:

    I am so grateful for this post. You are correct about so many things. I am struggling so much with my own story and am scarred (bladder cancer: http://paulblais.blogspot.com/2013/02/brave.html) I didn’t even know that the thoughts I’ve been having about other’s comments to me were bothering me so much or why. You nailed it! I can’t stand all the unsolicited advice about the sure fire way to cure my cancer or the comments about how good I look. I think some people think I ought to be looking like a Holocaust victim (sometimes it seems like my “good” appearance is a disappointment for their need to feel really sad for me.)
    I’m ranting, but also crying. Thank you for your clear articulation of our struggle.
    Love from a stranger,
    Paul Blais
    PS- I just got word that my cancer is back and spreading. But I look good! (http://paulblais.blogspot.com/2013/04/sunny-and-dark.html)
    …and I am becoming a follower or your blog.


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