I know I have friends who want me to yell and scream and swear and rage against the dying of the light.
But that’s not just in my nature. Maybe I will get to that point in the future, but I’m not there yet.
I’ve never really seen the point of wasting time, energy and stress on getting myself all worked up about things that are beyond my control. And now, more than ever, I don’t have the time or energy to waste on anything other than concentrating on doing what is best for me and my health.
I am a mostly calm and patient person and I don’t intend to change who I am now. I don’t like being around people who stress out about things and do my best to avoid people who thrive on stress and anger. It has a negative effect on me. So if you want to get angry and frustrated about the situation I am in, don’t do it around me.
That doesn’t mean I want to surround myself with a bunch of cheerleaders who tell me I’m doing great and everything is going to work out just fine. That would almost be worse than a bunch of stressed out doomsday sayers.
I like to have open and honest conversations about the reality of my situation. I know these conversations can be difficult for some people. I think some people would prefer to hide behind anger and get themselves worked up about the unfairness of all of this so they don’t have to deal with the reality.
I don’t want to hurt or upset anyone so sometimes I try to put a more positive spin on some angles of my health or treatment plans, or I leave out some information that might upset the person I’m talking to. It protects them and me.
So my advice to people who know someone diagnosed with Stage Four breast cancer?
- Listen to the person and take cues from them about how they want to talk about their disease and diagnosis.
- Avoid sharing the horror stories of your aunt’s, neighbour’s or parent’s cancer unless they show a genuine interest.
- Don’t tell them they’re going to get better and ‘beat cancer’.
- Try to resist sending them links to the latest miracle breakthrough or diet. If it does apply to them, their medical team is probably already aware of it. For example, my cancer is triple negative, which means there might be a new drug available for hormone-positive breast cancer, but it won’t do anything for me.
- Don’t get more outraged than them on their behalf.
- Don’t get angry and upset if you hear something about their health from someone else and think you should have heard it from them directly.
- Give them some space when you know they are getting results back. Yes, you might be curious to find out what is happening, but sometimes they need time to process scan or test results before they can discuss them with others.
- Don’t get angry or upset with them if they cancel plans or don’t call you back immediately and don’t stop inviting them or calling them. Sometimes they just don’t have the energy to give to other people and they need to put themselves first.
- It can be difficult to make plans in advance because appointments change, treatment plans can change, and knowing how someone is going to react to treatment can be unpredictable. Be reasonable and patient with this unpredictability.