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  • 2012 August 05
    From the daily archives: Sunday, August 5, 2012

    A plague on stupid people with big mouths! Is it my imagination, folks, or do people with cancer just have “advise me!” signs on their backs?

    I am on vacation at the beach in Yachats, Oregon. We were enjoying the local farmer’s market, and I overheard a man telling someone, “yes, people often get better results if they fast during chemotherapy” OMG. I had to stop and see what the deal was.

    This vendor was telling a woman whose husband has Stage 4 esophageal cancer that her husband should fast. I wish I had gotten more upset. I was polite, so the man did not get what an absolute jerk he was being. Not only was that clueless, it was bad, destructive advice. Where do people get the idea that they’re qualified to give medical advice?

    I wish I had thought of what my husband said.

    “oh, did that work for you when you were on chemotherapy?” I wish I had thought to say this.

    I spent quite a fair bit of time talking with the woman. She was really happy to talk with me. Cancer is such a lonely journey sometimes. Her husband can barely hold down water on a good day.

    Chemotherapy is so rough on a person. Food in the belly and strength is necessary to stay on track. An empty stomach is a guarantee of worse side effects. Very few cancer patients can afford to lose weight. Getting food from the plate and into the belly of a cancer patient is hard enough.

    This beanhead didn’t even have the grace to be sheepish or embarrassed.

    I’m sure he meant well. I just don’t understand why people think it’s cool to give advice to cancer patients. What is it about this disease that invites potshot expertise? I just don’t get it.

    When I was being treated for Inflammatory Breast Cancer, I had friends telling me emphatically that I should use complementary medicine exclusively, and another telling me that soy shakes could save my breast. That person is no longer my friend, and it makes me sad. Such advice was rubbing salt in my wounds, dangling my dearest wish before me in the most painful way. If I had heeded any of their advice I would be dead today.

    My best friend figured out that she had been in the wrong and sent me a wonderful card, and remained my staunch supported through the rest of it. She admitted that she just didn’t want to see me suffer through those horrendous treatments. The problem is that I had no choice.

    When you have to take a nasty pill, others telling you that you should not take it and take something else instead is not helpful.

    For those of us in the trenches, we have to learn to tune out well meaning but foolish people.

    My rant must end now. My children want me off the computer. I just knew I would feel better after I got this one off my chest.

    Back to being on vacation…

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