Acknowledging Cancer

Wanted: words of wisdom

First things first:  this past month I’ve been a busy gal with lots of doctor visits, scans, blood work, blah, blah, and as of yesterday (my last appointment), I’m clean as a whistle!  As my hematologist-oncologist said, my results are “boring”!  It’s hard to believe four years I was just finishing up chemo and starting radiation. . . .

While Better Half and I were in the hotel lobby Monday night, there were two couples sitting at the table next to us.  We saw that painfully familiar sight of a beautiful woman, very pale, wearing an oh-so-familiar hat because she didn’t have an ounce of hair.   We started hearing snippets of the conversation and it became obvious that both women were cancer patients as they were using only words someone familiar with cancer would know.

I’m not a shy person; ask Better Half and my friends.  As we got up to leave, I walked over to the table, crouched at eye level, and said I was so disappointed because four years ago I thought I was the cutest bald woman in the world, but obviously now my title was being relinquished.  I got the shocked, acknowledged look and laugh, and then we talked.  The two couples did not know each other; they had just met at the hotel.  The women both have multiple myeloma.  One traveled from Ohio and the other Alabama.  I felt bad that I “only” had breast cancer.  I told them they both looked beautiful, and we laughed about the joy of not having to shave your legs during chemo.  No plucking those darn hairs that pop up out of nowhere!

My question:  is it wrong for me to “force” myself upon other cancer victims?  I don’t know the Emily Post etiquette on this subject.  I only know that when I first lost my hair a kind woman came up to me (while Better Half was helping me try on hats) and told me how beautiful I looked and assured me my hair would indeed grow back as her’s had.  I was so grateful to her.

Am I being too pushy?  Please give me some sage advice!


24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. knitzatnight
    Aug 25, 2011 @ 17:08:02

    I appreciated people talking to me about it. Especially people years past treatment. It gave me hope that I would eventually be “normal” again.

    I talked to a fellow BC survivor (recognized by our identical short hair) before a half marathon and we ended up running the race together. It made it a very special day for me.

    In another case, I didn’t speak up. I saw a woman at the library in a bandanna and I thought too long before saying anything. She looked like she could use a friend, and I still regret not talking to her when I had the chance.

    We’re all part of the sisterhood, so I say speak up!


  2. Tricia @ {every}nothing wonderful
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 15:05:29

    Yay for boring, indeed!

    I think, the concern to not approaching is because then you fear that you are invading their personal space/issues, that somehow it is egotistical or self-centered to get involved, that you aren’t that important so you won’t…when in reality to hold that back, that shared experience is really the self-centered thing to do, you know? Hope that made sense. What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes giving of yourself and your common traits/experience is sometimes the most selfless thing you can do.

    You are great. Keep giving that to the world, we need it.


  3. Charlie
    Mar 05, 2011 @ 09:48:25

    Congratulations Lisa! Getting the all clear is TERRIFIC! And sharing that news… and therefore HOPE is definitely not pushy. It is inspiring! You probably made their day!

    There is nothing more important than HOPE to a cancer patient! Thank you for giving it to them!!!


  4. Timi
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 14:17:08

    I’m very happy for you!!!
    Regarding the ladies from the restaurant…I think it was a very kind gesture to talk to them.
    Best of luck in the future and inspiration for your blog.

    It’s a pleasure to read your posts,


  5. nancyspoint
    Mar 04, 2011 @ 12:04:00

    Congrats on those boring test results! In this case it is indeed good to be boring! As for being pushy or forcing yourself on those other women, I wouldn’t worry about it. I mean who wouldn’t love being told they are beautiful?

    If someone isn’t receptive and doesn’t want to talk, I’m sure they would find a way to let you know. I think reaching out is always worth the risk.

    And thanks again for your “pushy” reminders to me to stay off my computer while on vacation!! ha. I needed to push myself away! Thanks!


  6. cpeezers
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 17:57:31

    I am so happy for your “boring” results. I’d think those women were very glad to meet you. Seems like it would be great to meet someone who knows and understands totally.


  7. bethany
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 12:16:02

    Boring results are such great news! You’ve brought smiles to many people with this news and it sounds like to the two ladies you chatted with. ((hugs))


  8. Roberta
    Mar 03, 2011 @ 09:44:40

    Let’s see…pushy, you? Embarassingly so, at times. BUT, those were times when pushy was perhaps necessary. How could you ever feel pushy, when you might just be giving someone a reason to keep going when maybe she just wants to give up and cry “Uncle”? I remember a time when you required a little bit of “push” yourself and now you’re able to give it back. SO–go ahead and be pushy.


  9. Sue
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 22:50:40

    I am so happy you got an all clear! 🙂 I think what you did is fantastic. I’m sure they appreciated it.


  10. kim whitten
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 22:15:57

    I must admit when I saw this title in my blog reader I got worried for a few seconds until I read your “clean as a whistle” comment! Whew, I know that must be such a nice thing to hear.

    As for your “pushiness” ….um, that’s why I like you so ding, dang, darn much! Maybe you should write the etiquette book for other cancer victims, survivors and their families! 😉


  11. Lovely Daughter
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 19:39:23

    Mom it would be weird if you WEREN’T “pushy”, know what I mean? Like you’ve never been afraid to approach random people for whatever. If i was with you last night and you HADN’T approached them, that’s what I think would be weird. I agree with Suzanne!


  12. Suzanne
    Mar 02, 2011 @ 19:06:46

    Reading of your boring test results made my day! You are not too pushy! When you bighten the evening of women going through the horror that the women you spoke with on Monday evening are going through, you are doing exactly the right thing. You gave them hope, and hope is healing.


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