I came across this article written by Mandy Velez, and it pretty much sums up what I’d written previously in my posts on what to say or not to say to someone who has cancer. Cancer can be a silent disease. Unless the patient is cachexic or has lost his/her hair, it’s not always obvious it’s cancer.
Typical response from well-meaning people when they find out you have a life-threatening disease!
9 Things People Who Have A Silent Disease Want You To Know
1. Just because we don’t look sick doesn’t mean we’re not in pain.
Invisible illnesses affect nearly 1 in 2 people in the U.S. That’s about half of the population that has an ailment that doesn’t manifest itself physically. But that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Conditions from depression to Crohn’s disease affect the internal organs or brain and are just as painful as any outward conditions. This is why it’s a bad idea to judge someone’s abilities based on their appearance:
2. Our illness may chemically affect our mood and temperament, and no, it’s not just an excuse.
THE FULL OF LIFE (FOL) PERSONALITY
Image credit: “Cancer made me a Shallower Person” by Miriam Engelberg. Click to enlarge.
Updated 25 Jan 2014: I recently came across this quote in a blog post by chemobabe which pretty much sums up what I was trying to put across in my post:
“Treatment sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t.
While attitude may influence compliance, it does not otherwise influence outcome.
The right treatment for the disease is what counts. …
I think it’s disappointing to come to terms with the fact that positivity is not going to determine the outcome. …
I will tell you that the women I admire most are the ones who flourish not because of their good attitude, but because of their unflinching honesty.”
So … let it all hang out. Being authentic is more important than being positive.
Being positive and the Law of Attraction and Cancer
There is this New Age philosophy that people with cancer must remain positive.
There’s also another New Age meme that holds that somehow, people are responsible for their cancers. Or the popular Law of Attraction which implies that people with cancer attracted their cancers to themselves like some sort of warped anti-health magnet.
What I attempt to do in this post, is to trace the roots of these beliefs, why it seems to apply only to cancer, why I think it’s dangerous, and what we can do to counteract it. There are also loads of funny cartoons on cancer to liven things up.
Updated 15 April 2014 with more personal additions
From the book “Cancer Etiquette” by Rosanne Kalick – one of the best books in the market offering guidance on what not to say and what to say to people who have cancer. [Unfortunately it is only available as a hardcover book. Amazon has some used copies].
I’ve covered some of the mistakes people make when speaking to someone who has cancer in Part 1, as mentioned in Rosanne Kalick’s book.
In Part 2, Rosanne Kalick shares some tips on what not to say, and to say, to someone who has cancer. I’ve since updated this post with my personal additions, so it’s hard to separate what is Rosanne Kalick’s and what is mine, but the bones of this post is from her book.