There are not many things in life that measures up with being told you have cancer. One of the things that comes pretty damn close, is knowing you might have cancer, but don’t yet certain. I am quite sure I am not alone in having stories within my story of how “of course this went wrong,” but you feel that way at the time.
After having two doctors drill into me that time was of the essence, and being fortunate enough to get an appointment 3 days later, I was all set.. until… Snow and Ice blanketed NJ that day. I drove 45 minutes to get to the lab that was about 5 minutes, only to find that they has closed early due to the weather. (Yes, they did leave me a message, but I had already left before they called, and despite having my cell phone checked as my primary phone number, they called and left the message on my home phone.)
Naturally, then with other appointments already in place and other people that are needed to be rescheduled, and trying to keep some semblance of normalcy in a world that suddenly feels upside down no matter how hard you try to keep it from being so, it would be another week before they could get me in, and of course almost a week before I can get an appointment to read the results.
There is a phrase, the I used to use quite frequently… I admit that now with much reluctance, because my view of it has drastically changed. Because I used it myself, I do know that it is meant with all the right intentions behind it. But allow me to tell you now, if you have never been on this side of the equation, the phrase, “There is no sense in worrying about it until you are certain..” or “No sense in fretting over it until you get the results” or anything else along those lines… Yeah… They are NOT helpful. I’m sorry. They are not. And when you say that to somebody and they tell you “You are right.” They are only blowing you off. It is not helpful. It is not consoling. or calming. What it does is make a person feel like you are trying to invalidate the emotions they are going through at that moment (and there are a lot of them to sort through). Offer assistance, offer to be an ear (because it is nice to be able to vocalize some of these feelings and not just try to sort them out internally), or even to just sit there with them quietly, rather than telling them to cover up and try and ignore what is happening. We already know we have to learn to put on the “brave face” for people, but if you are going to be a friend, let me know that I don’t have to do that in front of you too.