Since breast cancer diagnosis and throughout my survivorship, I have crossed paths with well-meaning folks who make blanket statements to comfort me. It’s sometimes difficult for those not in the cancer world to sit with the knowledge that someone has/has had cancer, let alone has had difficulty coping. So people try to pretty it up by attempting to sell seemingly harmless platitudes.
Like many who’ve had/have cancer and/or a variety of other diseases/conditions, I’ve heard my share of drivel, but I wanted to share two platitudes that irk me to no end. And I know the people who say them tend to mean well, but the truth is, for me, these platitudes do more harm than good.
“There’s a reason for everything.” No, sometimes there is no reason for the shitstorm called cancer. In my world view, many things happen randomly. There is no grand world order, and there is no real reason why my cells went from healthy to stealthy. Sure, there are biological reasons, but from the universe’s perspective, there’s no real reason I got cancer.
I wasn’t being punished for some unforgivable sin. I didn’t learn a valuable lesson, other than how precious life really is. But I’m not grateful to cancer for this life lesson. The disease certainly didn’t make me a better person: I’ve not become more ethical, moral, kinder, and giving. I’d like to think I have always had these qualities, and perhaps I’ve become a better person over time, but it’s through my own natural evolution — not because I had cancer.
In addition, I didn’t get cancer because the universe was trying to send me a special message or because I was the chosen one.
“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.” I’ve heard this one a lot, and boy-oh-boy does this really anger me. So let me open Pandora’s box on this tricky subject because each person has his/her own religious beliefs or lack, thereof. Everyone is different in this respect, and I respect others’ faiths or lack of faith. My goal is not to offend, but to show how this platitude is fallacious in its reasoning.
I’ve discussed my personal faith and relationship with God in a previous post. And though I believe that so many things in the world happen randomly, I also have a strong faith and personal relationship with God, though I am not a fan of organized religion. What I’m about to discuss is my world view.
The “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” platitude is really harmful. First of all, I don’t blame God for giving me cancer. A higher power didn’t give me the disease for some higher purpose. Cancer is not a product of divine order. Cancer has biological reasons, as I said before, but attributing it to God is unfair to God and to the affected person.
Secondly, cancer did give me more than I could handle. Like most people, I tried my best to improve my survival rate by choosing the best possible treatments for me.
Yes, I survived thus far. I’m alive and happy and joyful to be alive.
But cancer was more than I could handle.
This disease compromised my physical health, but just as important, cancer did its number on my mental health. Without the proper treatments, I would never have endured.
Like so many people, I did all I could to survive. I did not kick cancer’s ass; in fact, cancer kicked mine pretty good.
I wish people would stop telling me there was a divine reason for my having had cancer and for my survival. A divine power did not give me cancer as a test. And I don’t know why I survived so far. Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful to be alive. But I’m not grateful to cancer.
What are some platitudes you have heard?
How do you deal/have you dealt with such platitudes?
Tags: breast cancer, cancer, cancer platitudes, serious illness