In honor of the Winter Olympics, I thought I’d share with you my top three favorite things people told me when I was going through cancer…and by that, I mean these are the three statements that were meant comfortingly but probably should have just been replaced by a hug and silence.
Lest this sound too cynical, know that I understand these words were spoken from sincerity and out of a loss for the right words to say, so I’m not bitter at all. However, there are times when, if you don’t know what to say, sometimes it’s just best to admit that and give someone a hug (but more on that in my next post!).
So, here we go with the bronze, silver, and gold of my favorite things people said followed by my (sarcastic and internal) response.
Statement: “In a way, your cancer is kind of a compliment because it means you have such great faith that God knows you are strong enough to handle it. You should feel honored!”
My inner retort: “Hmmm, so, you’re really saying that this cancer is a compliment because I’m a spiritual giant? I feel so much better! I need to start looking for a halo above my head!”
Statement: “You know, you’re actually kind of lucky you don’t have hair because it means you don’t have to shave!”
My inner retort: “Yes, every day when I take off my wig, I look in the mirror at my bald head and nasty moles and tell myself, ‘You are so lucky!’ Saving fifteen minutes a week not having to shave is so much better than having hair.”
Gold Medal (and this one is found in my book, so sorry for the repeat):
Statement: “Pretty soon, your scalp’s gonna itch and burn and then WHAM! All of your hair’s just gonna fall out.”
My actual response: “Yeah…um…I’m not looking forward to that.”
Follow up statement: “Well, you could be dead.”
My actual response: “I tell myself that every day.” [My inner retort: “Um…is he serious or trying to joke?”]
I hope those were entertaining for you, too. And again, before you think I’m the meanest person ever for responding so cynically, know that I understand people were trying their best to encourage me by playing the “glad game” or finding a silver lining. I know I’ve done that before and said the wrong thing while trying to be encouraging. And there’s even a particle of truth in some of those statements, but they weren’t exactly the most comforting during cancer. In my next post, I want to share what I’ve been hearing a lot about lately on the idea of presence and how it’s often the best thing we can offer another person in a trial.
But, until then, I hope you enjoyed this medal round of my favorite (un)helpful things people said during cancer. Have a great weekend, and may you feel so loved on this Valentine’s Day!
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,