I have many pet peeves in Cancerland.
During my diagnosis and treatment, people told me to stay positive. Well, this advice harmed me, as I needed to cry and feel miserable. Those who told me to stay positive negated my fears and denied my feelings.
Other individuals spouted that God couldn’t give me more than I could handle. Wrong on two counts: God did not give me cancer, and yes, cancer was more than I could handle.
Enter the next pet peeve that well-meaning people have told me countless times regarding my bad fortune in having cancer:
“Everything happens for a reason.”
This distorted way of thinking is unacceptable.
The subtext behind “Everything happens for a reason” is that a cancer diagnosis is meant to make us chosen lucky ones better people and that cancer is the catalyst to self-improvement.
This trite saying also implies that there was a some divine power involved to give us cancer as some sort of crucible designed to test our mettle. So because I survived thus far, did I prove brave enough to endure? Did I pass this test?
And do people who die with metastatic disease fail the test?
I think not.
This is what I have to say to those in the “Everything happens for a reason” camp. Think before you offer empty platitudes and invent a mythological narrative for a cancer patient.
Cancer is not designed to make us better people.
Cancer isn’t a divine will thrust upon us.
Cancer happens because…..
Well, it just happens.
My advice to those who don’t have cancer is this: Instead of offering harmful platitudes, offer cancer patients what they need: a listening ear, preparing meals or babysitting patients’ children, and, of course, a hug.
What platitude(s) is your pet peeve(s)?
What insensitive comment(s) were/are you told as a cancer patient?
Tags: breast cancer, cancer, everything happens for a reason, platitudes on cancer