Suppose I’m as guilty as anyone, but still. Reading the LFP this morning and came across this;
DEAR AMY: My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer last fall. He has been on chemotherapy, but two regimens have ceased to contain it and the overall prognosis is not good. At the most, it is unlikely he will survive more than a year from diagnosis.
People we hardly know come up to us and tell us how various alternative medicine approaches (multiple herbs, specific diets, etc.) “cured” their loved ones and/or tell us how their neighbor, co-worker or friend has survived five, eight or 10 years or even that “they can cure cancer now.”
They mean well. They always do.
At the end, the woman asks Amy,
Recently, in an attempt to end one of these unsolicited conversations, I told someone that they did not seem to know much about pancreatic cancer and walked away from them. I was later told that I was being rude. Can you suggest a polite way to shut these people up so they do not add to my stress and grief? — Upset
Can I suggest a polite way? With Tim, I would just smile and say “thank you”, and left it at that.
Personally, I struggled with it myself. Tim in those last months got wind of the talk surrounding marijuana oil, and we even had some in the fridge. I just said nothing. What could I say? It was his life, his death, his dying, his pain, his hope, and his cancer, not mine.
The question really is, how do you handle hope? That’s what I couldn’t get a grip on. I mean, among all the data that I read after Tim’s diagnosis of Pancreatic Cancer, believe me, hope wasn’t a dominant part of the literature. Never really is with Pancreatic Cancer.
Tim got 18 months, some people don’t even get 6.
Thing is, I still cry when I read any articles on new possible treatments. Really. I take a big breath and force myself sometimes to read them anyways.
And every time I see ad’s for marijuana oil I tear up, still to this day. If only. If only. What if?
At the time, it felt like our world was drowning in all the what ifs.
Even though hope is so gawd damn hard once there is none left, still, it is there. Tantalizing you with its sweet promises.
But everyone means well. We all mean well. We want to find some magic within all the horror that begins to surround you. From those first words, as the doctor utters your diagnosis, throughout every day that he was given, I suppose Tim held on to that tiny driftwood of hope. We both clung to it.
I remember feeling so trapped. So confused about this rationality that has always dominated my character. How I wished I could have been one of those who can lie to themselves. One of those who can wholeheartedly believe.
But I’m not one of those people. I’ve always wished that I was, though.
How much better maybe it could be if regardless of everything that is staring you in the face, to BELIEVE in those infinitesimal bits of hope. How do people do it?
I guess Tim did always have better eyes than I. He could spot a Wren in the shrubbery from 10 paces away, and I admired his ability to see things I could not. It was one of the things I loved about him. I think it angered him I couldn’t see what he did. He’d be like “LOOK, IT’s RIGHT THERE”.
You know, maybe he had it right. But all I could see was the way that hopes allowed him to avoid the inevitable. I mean, Tim was the KING at avoiding the consequences of his actions. It had defined his whole entire life.
Still, there is merit in seeing past your own blazingly obvious flaws. To ignore the zit on your forehead, and concentrate inside on the beautiful brown of your eyes, or the way your hair looks in the afternoon light.
Doesn’t work that way, though.
So, I just nod and smile when people give unsolicited advice. When they talk about a friend who had cancer, whose friend of a friend tried yadda yadda yadda, and/or whatever cure du jour is on the menu. Try as I might you know, I am always skeptical. Always, always, always.
So that would have been my advice to UPSET. Don’t say anything to those who would offer their wisdom, their well-meaning advice, just smile and say thank you.
A little hope never hurt anyone, much as it may hurt sometimes in the end.