Let’s be honest, cancer doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you’re nice or rude or rich or poor. It doesn’t care how many people will watch you go through treatment and want public updates on your mindset or CA-125 levels. Martin and I were very careful in the days immediately after my diagnosis because we were still processing the news and figuring out next steps. We didn’t need our families to hear about anything via media, and Martin had to be at the next race or we knew the media would wonder why he wasn’t in his car.
Once we decided to share the diagnosis, and once I began to learn about the thousands of other women fighting this disease, too, I got a crash course in diplomacy.
I thought it might be fun to laugh about some of the hardest/funniest comments people said to me, but I’m also sharing this with you because I hope it helps someone realize how impactful words can be. So, here are some of my favorites, or not so favorite… 😉
“You got this!”
I know this is supposed to cheer me up, but those words have always felt like pressure. They made me feel like if I was just strong enough, I could beat cancer. If I was just positive enough, I could beat cancer. If I was just determined enough… you get the idea. The truth is, no one knows exactly how to beat cancer but we have an arsenal of tactics to try. I’m doing my best to do them everyday, but who knows in the end if they will work.
“Don’t stop fighting!”
Again, words that surely mean well, but wow. I’ve never been a quitter, so why would I start now? Do you really think one morning I’m just going to wake up and say, “The heck with this! Time to punch out, I’m ready to stop fighting and die?!” I don’t think so.
“Martin deserves a medal for going through this with you.”
Whoa. Let’s refocus these good intentions: Where’s my medal for being the one actually fighting cancer in my body? C’mon, people!
We had been together for 10 years when I got my diagnosis, which means we’d already been through a lot. Ironically, my diagnosis brought us closer together. Will we ever get married? I have no idea and I really don’t care. If we’re happy, that should be enough for everyone else. The only award we’re striving for in life is the one that is stamped with the words “living life to the fullest each day!”
“You have ovarian cancer? Oh, man, that’s the worst kind. My mom/aunt/grandmother/sister’s neighbor’s cousin just died from ovarian cancer.”
I think if you just read that one aloud, you’ll get why it’s tough to hear. Please. No dying stories!
“God chose you for this so you can be a voice for women everywhere.”
Awesome. I sure wish He would have asked me first, because I promise I would have been willing to help out without the whole life-threatening experience. Listen. I’m grateful for the second chance I’ve been given. But my God is not sitting in Heaven thinking, “Oh hey, Sherry’s sure getting a lot of Twitter followers. Ovarian cancer would benefit hugely from that. POOF!”
“Awwww! You look so cute with a quarter-inch of gray and blonde fuzz on your head! You should wear it THAT way!”
I appreciate the compliments and the self-confidence boost. I do. But how a woman chooses to deal with, cope with or embrace her baldness as a result of cancer treatment is entirely her decision. I want to feel like myself as much as possible, and I’m thankful for the sense of normalcy my wig gives me. My hair is slowing coming back, but I can promise you there is nothing cute about it right now. Haha! When I’m ready, I’ll take the wig off and rock a banging pixie cut! 😉