Say What You Need To Say

Blogs-contributors, Dan Waeger — By on February 26, 2009 at 11:34 am

I am sure that Dan will update everyone with respect to next steps with respect to treatment over the next day or so. It took awhile to sort out, but he will get the drain put in tomorrow to help with the fluid retention. And yes, he kinda looked like the pregnant man.

We also don’t want people to freak out if we don’t immediately post a medical update. While we use this blog as our main form of communication, we also need a little time to digest things and let our immediate families know what is going on. Calls become really tough to handle… think of it- Dan has his parents and 4 siblings, plus my parents and my brother & his family, so if we were to even spend a half on hour on the phone with each, that is 4 hours of talk time! So don’t feel bad or worried if you don’t hear from us directly… we try to keep up, but I guess that is the downside of having so many well-wishers… not enough time to connect with everyone.

A very timely article was published in the USA Today yesterday about how to talk to people with cancer & about what not to say. I know many people have stated that it’s hard for them to post on our blog because they don’t want to say the wrong thing, which we can understand. But also realize that we check the blog quite often, and for us, it’s nice because we get to read people’s thoughts without having to directly respond. I know, it’s a bit selfish! And I also think that your comments bring comfort to those who don’t see Dan very often. I know it’s really hard for family & friends to be far away & feel helpless, so I have to imagine that reading everyone’s kind words & encouraging messages gives them a boost as well.

OK, enough pontificating. Here is the link to the article

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-08-cancer-words_N.htm

Dan is actually quoted in the sidebar of the article. I like what he says about congratulating people when they tell you they’re a cancer survivor. I was really surprised by this response when we went to the LiveStrong summit in OH this past summer. Cancer survivors, both those in & after treatment, need to be congratulated for enduring what they do, both mentally & physically.

I would also like to add my own thoughts about what not to say.

1. If someone tells you that they or someone they love has cancer, please don’t ask if they are optimistic. This happened to my friend when she was diagnosed with colon cancer. What was she supposed to say- “No, they’ve written me off”?

2. Many people ask me if I need a break. Please don’t ask me that. Yes, these are tough times, but if I needed a break spending time with Dan, my fiancé, something would really be wrong. I liked watching 5 hours of tv before I met Dan, so I feel I’ve been in training for some down time. Plus, my break is going to work everyday, so I get up & out & moving every day.

3. Please don’t tell us that you’re now thankful for what you have after hearing about Dan or that you’ve realized you don’t have it so bad compared to what we are dealing with. This is a backhanded way of saying we don’t have much or we have a really bad life. Neither one of us feel this way.

Now, if you’ve said some of things, it’s not something that we dwell on AT ALL. We know everyone has good intentions. But it’s just things to keep in mind the next time a friend or co-worker might be dealing with cancer. I think we’ve said it a 1,000 times, but the best thing for us to be as normal as possible.

I recently had to explain what was happening to my new boss. I think he handled it very well. He didn’t say much other than to express his concern and support. He didn’t put me on the spot with respect to a lot of medical questions. He let me say what I needed to say and then we just got back to business. All in all, A+ for him. And, I actually held it together!

Please read the complete article and let us know what you think below.

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