Tuesday, 4 October 2011


Lately, I’ve noticed that some friends don’t tell me what’s going on in their lives. They don’t complain or celebrate good news or rant when they’re hurt and angry.

They ask how I am. They hope I’ll get well or that I’m feeling better. I’m in their prayers. And I understand that this is sincere and generous. I’m grateful for the good wishes and prayers but…

I wonder if they still see me – or if The Cancer, that fat old usurper is standing smack in front of me, blocking the view.

Maybe they’re just fuzzy about etiquette…can you talk about plans and hopes for the future with someone whose future may (or may not) be limited? Is it in poor taste to be happy in front of a person with a serious illness? Is it beyond ungrateful to bitch about the disappointments and aggravations in your life to someone who has (what might be perceived as) a bigger problem?

Here are some guidelines for the confused:

I’m still me, for better or worse.

I still very much want to hear your good news and be able to rejoice with you.

I still empathize when you’ve had a disappointment or are hurt or lonely. And if it helps you to talk, I want to listen.

I still love to read and write. I love art and fine craft. It’s never boring to hear about your creative life. Or for that matter, those frustrating creative blocks we all go through.

I still love to talk about God, life, death, astrology, science, Coronation Street, ecology, the universe and everything.

If someone does you wrong, I’ll still help you bury the body.

I crack cancer jokes and death jokes, so you don’t have to tip-toe.

I may have cancer but it doesn’t have me.

So smile for me, okay? And stop worrying.


Kristen said...

Yes Yes Yes! We all know life still goes on but others need to remember we are not one big Cancer Blob we need to hear of life and joy and sorrow of others it keeps us in perspective. What an amazing post!

Cynthia Newcomer Daniel said...

Oh, good. And thank you. I was wondering all of those things, actually.

Howpublic said...

Yes. God forbid I become one big Cancer blog. Although I expect a few less than stellar months with chemo!

And Cyn...I always wondered those things too - until I was on the other side of it.

Roberta said...

You do realize that having cancer has made you a fantastic writer.

Who knew?

Howpublic said...

Roberta - It certainly blew the hell out of writer's block. That's for sure!

Pat Barber said...

ROFLOL at "...blew the hell out of writer's block"! Brilliant!

And thank you SO much for saying what I wanted so desperately to tell all my relations when I myself was going thru surgery & chemo, but could not find the words. I too so desparately needed people to keep sharing with me, to keep - well - LIVING! - if for no other reason than to reassure me that I too was living. And would live. And could laugh, and console, and empathize, and get angry on behalf of - others!

And finally Bravo to you, Linda, for knowing with certainty that you have cancer, it does NOT have you! Don't you ever let it "get" you, ya hear?!

Howpublic said...

Thanks Pat. I realized, when I wrote this, that I wondered the same things (from the other side).
And my friend, Wendy, is a breast cancer survivor - and I know there were times when I didn't know how to act. And times she noticed that someone would see her...and try to exit before they had to talk to her - simply because they didn't know what to say.