Monday, September 1, 2014

Questions, Comments & Email

Having cancer is difficult enough, but it isn’t the worst.  Topping the lot is interacting with people who spew insipid questions and comments without thinking.  That's what really burns my biscuits.  I know people are uncomfortable, and probably mean well, but Sweet Baby Jeebus on toast points, think before you make a fool of yourself.  Oh, and incidentally, There is NO reason to whisper the word “cancer” in 2014, really. These top my list of STFU, already:

I know how you feel.  

This is nothing.  You’re strong and can beat this thing.

What kind of cancer do you have? Not all cancers are the same, you know.

My ______________ had cancer.

My ______________ died of cancer.

God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

Whenever I hear any of the above, especially the first and last, I really want that person to hold their breath until all life exits their body. These comments are not only annoying, they’re downright insulting.

Instead of putting your feet in your mouth, why not try putting them into my shoes for a few days and STFU! 

Then something like this email exchange comes along and knocks me back on my haunches:

Hi Wayne,
I know that you have no idea who I am but I am Ron XXXXXXXX from Milford, a non- Summer regular of Dos Locos. 
We missed or should I say miss seeing  your smiling face and pleasant greeting as we enter and were saddened to hear of your health struggle.  
I just wanted you to know Wayne that as unfair as your cancer is to happen to such a nice guy who is loved and missed and respected by so many people, God still loves you and I am praying for your happiness, that your pain be lessened and if it's his will, that He would heal you and return you to full strength.
My prayers go up for you Wayne.

Hi Ron,  You're right, I'm not sure I know who you are, but that doesn't mean I can't thank you for the warm wishes and unexpected note. I appreciate any and all communication from my customers.  I miss you all very much. I would be back on the floor in a heartbeat, if I could. I hate that I cannot be in crowds or even large groups because of my low blood count.  It's a killer for someone like me.
Still, I hear from a few folks now and then and as I said, am grateful for the remembrance. Wishing you a safe and peace-filled holiday weekend.  Maybe I'll see you at DL sometime in the off season.  I do try to get over there when I am up to it.
Again, thanks for the prayers and warm wishes.

(And this one, today.)

Hi Wayne,
It's funny you mentioned the off season because my wife and I are one of the , I'm sure, many customers who tell you in May that we'll see you in September, although we did get there in early August when our family came to RB.
We always asked about you but the newer servers would never tell,us anything, I assume a confidentiality issue.
The only thing I can say that might bring me to mind is we always get the crabmeat quesidilla (sp?) and one time I got a crabmeat/ shrimp quesidilla and you and I agreed that the combo kind of cancels each other's taste out.
Anyway, Wayne, it is good hearing from you and my prayers REALLY, HONESTLY,will go up for you.
Hope to see you back.

What a difference. Generous. Non-judgmental. There is nothing more to say after such an exchange. I am blessed by so many people. It would be wonderful to enjoy their company a little while longer. May it be so.

And so it goes.



  1. What nice emails. I wish I could express my thoughts as well as both Ron and you. I may say the wrong thing sometimes , but never intentionally. I agree though, sometimes people can say the most asinine things.
    Take care,

    1. Calvin: Most comments like these are made in person where the person has to think off the top of their head, and probably uncomfortable with silence. Just stupid small talk for them. One has time to sort out their thoughts when writing. Whole different picture when one is more in control. We can all say stupid things at times, that's because we're not perfect.

  2. I got that last statement many times during my cancer battle. made me wanna punch them in their smug faces. hard. repeatedly.

    that was a nice letter from your customer. I bet your customers miss you cause you are quite an interesting person. oh, did you go out today for a drinky-poo?

    1. AM: Yes, that last one is the kicker. And yes, our presence was made known on the street, as they say. A fun time, as usual. More later.

  3. I had heard that you were a special person, but didn't expect this. You may feel blessed, but others surely feel the same way. Get well wishes to you.

  4. I think most people mean well when they try to express their concern for you and your health. However, I do understand and agree with you on some of the (well meaning) statements made like "I know what you're going through" and "My (relative) had what you had etc." First, no one knows what you're going through and secondly, I really don't care what anyone's relatives had because no two illnesses are the same. But I try to get the folks past their clumsy efforts to express their sympathy for my condition and continue on with life. We're all going to die of something, sometime (a statement that obviously does not need to be made but I make it). Hopefully our death won't be too painful, violent, prolonged or dehumanizing. My cousin Randy said it best, "I hope to die in my sleep some night and not like my Mother (who was in a nursing home for eight years with dementia)." And he did die at age 64 in his sleep. He got his wish. That's my wish. In the meantime I try (mostly with success) to make each day special and full of life. Now more so than ever with my personal hourglass of life running low on sand.

  5. Sadly, cancer is still one of those topics that makes people nervous, and so, like you said, they say the first thing that comes to mind. And it's usually the wrong thing to say but they filled the silence so all's good, eh?

    Howsabout just saying, "How are you feeling?" and "If there's anything you ever need ... ?"


Your comments are welcome if they are positive and/or helpful.
If they are simply a tirade or opinionated bullshit, they will be removed, so don't waste your time, or mine.

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