A Few Declarations
A frequent topic of conversation in my office is the need to have a few standard responses in your repertoire. When someone says something rude, dumb, or hurtful, it is very helpful to have a ready answer. Those are not the best moments to come up with something terse or witty. My personal favorite all purpose response, always delivered after a moment of silence, and then in a puzzled or questioning, not an angry, tone is: "Why would you say that to me?" This works beautifully when someone has just told you about her cousin who died of a very similar breast cancer or comments that your wig looks better than your real hair or that wow, your hair wasn't so gray before you lost it, etc. This sentence nicely puts the burden back on the other person.
It is also helpful to consider how rude you are willing to be. Depending on the person and the circumstances, you may be able to say "That is very hurtful" or "None of your business" or "I would rather talk about something else." or even "How dare you!" Totally up to you how you want to respond, but it is smart to think about it in advance.
This is a terrific piece from a recently discovered blog: The Accidental Amazon (www.accidentalamazon.com). Titlted A Few Declarations, it nicely and hilariously summarizes the issues many of us face during and after treatment, and shares some of her responses. One woman told me that she may make copies of this essay and have them ready to distribute at appropriate times.
For anyone out there who is not a cancerland resident or who ... doesn't get it, here are a few declarations, in case you blocked them out the first or seventeenth time around, or just thought perhaps I was making it all up.
2. Yes, I am still slogging my way through fatigue and low energy three-and-a-half years later. No, it's not as bad as it was. Now, it's less like being run over by a freight train and more like being flattened by the occasional stray eighteen-wheeler.
3. Yes, my concentration just sucks sometimes. And my train of thought sometimes derails unexpectedly. Although I can still usually find my way home.
4. When #2 or #3 are bad enough, I have to stop what I'm doing. Immediately. Not when it's convenient for you.
6. That means I pay all my old bills with 1/5 less income. So if I say I can't afford it, I can't afford it. Period.
7. That also means that saying, 'Why don't you just hire someone to [fill in the blank with exertional life/home/yard task] for you?' is not a helpful suggestion.
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