Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Saying What I Need, Shunning What I Don't
"Stop cooking fried stuff." "Why are you eating that?" "Drink this cancer cell-killing tea." "It's because you don't eat enough."
Yes, I got cancer because I don't eat enough. Good God.
I'll laugh and smile and hear them out of politeness, but once I'm back home I'll realize that wow, that didn't help me at all!
As I've been bringing this annoying phenomenon up in conversations, there's a good suggestion that's been made several times, one I'm going to heed as I enter the treatment stages: saying what it is I need and being clear about what isn't helpful. You'd think common sense would keep friends and family from coming at me with say, "hurry up and get pregnant" or "see, you always said you didn't want to have kids" after I've mentioned several times that being on Tamoxifen for five years means no pregnancy until I'm 36, but alas. So to protect myself from crying every time someone offers up an insensitive comment or medical advice that's more quack than fact, I letting them know where I'm drawing the line.
1. Understand that no one wants to talk about their sucky bits 24/7. I sure don't. While I'm happy to give updates, I don't want it to be the sole reason why you're reaching out. If we had good conversations about deep stuff, life, silly randomness, our hopes, our goals, the whole lot, I so need to keep that in my life.
2. All this has made me realize how tired I am of difficult friendships. You know, the ones that take Herculean efforts to arrange a meet-up because everyone's too busy, too broke, too lazy to put in the effort. So lately I've been nurturing the ties that are healthy, genuine, good, wholehearted, fun, where everyone's equally invested into strengthening those bonds. That's where I want to spend my time and mental space. More happy, less anxiety.
3. If you can or are interested, read up on what I'm going through. It's such a nice relief to talk with someone who has an idea what I'm referring to when I mention BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes or what the side effects of radiation will be.
And What I Don't
1. Random health advice that comes from hearsay and what I like to call woo woo shit. Before you suggest something I should try, do some homework and know that just because someone else did it, doesn't mean I have to do it or that it will produce the same results with me. Run everything through a bullshit detector. Ask questions - especially if it sounds too good to be true.
2. Criticisms on personal and medical choices, past or present. You're free to ask questions about how I came to my decisions, but there's really no place for judgment here.
3. Don't overwhelm me with info, stats, or questions about freezing my eggs. I can only handle one step at a time and any more could just freak me out.
But I think the following applies when trying to comfort anyone going through a difficult time: when in doubt, ask before rushing in.