People don’t know what to say. They mean well; it’s often better that they say something than feed that looming elephant in the room. But generally, we’re all very good at putting our foot in it.
Those close to you desperately want you to be healthy again. Their words show such positivity. ‘You’re feeling better now, right?’ That closed expectant question reflects all their hopefulness. They will it so much that it leaves you no option not to be, ‘right?’ It denies you the option of honesty. There is no room to explain how you truly feel. You find yourself nodding instinctively.
The sad fact is that however radiant and gorgeous you may look on the outside, it reveals little of what goes on within. Much like the original tumour, the lingering health issues of remission are generally hidden. The invisible enemy that is cancer has been replaced by an invisible chronic condition that is even harder to explain.
People see the world in binary terms – you are one or the other: happy, or sad; either ‘sick’ or ‘healthy’. If you look well, others perceive it must be so. In the media, cancer survivors are heroes that vanish off into the sunset. This is the easiest way of viewing cancer survivorship; all the nasty stuff over and done with, it’s easy to forget and move on. Kairol Rosenthal, author of Everything Changes cuts to the chase with her description: “You see us as you want to see us, in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions… I wanted to be freed of these limiting descriptors and perceptions.”
This limited view of the world is not helpful to anyone, least of all you. So should you be honest?
How do you respond?
Thanks for sharing Laura. Hari
I get fed up with being honest with people, I find they generally don't want to know. That "How are you?" is maybe just something to say and, do people really want to know the answer? I'm actually not sure! Gret article x