Wednesday, November 21, 2018

The OMG People

Janet's post last week reminded me of another group of people you may meet on your journey through CancerLand: The Oh My God! people:

The things people will say to you. “You look good”. They say this to him because they heard that he has cancer and they were expecting him to look like crap. It always makes me wonder if later they are going to say, "You look like hell”. 

Or they begin to tell you a story about someone else who had cancer and halfway into the story you can tell that they suddenly realized that the story they are telling you does NOT have a happy ending.

It turns out that the neighbor, coworker or uncle they are starting to tell you about has died of cancer and probably the same kind of cancer that your loved one has …and now, you can see the look on their face—even as words are coming out of their mouth --they are trying to back out of the story they are still telling  you.

They desperately want to redirect themselves, so they can make this story be about something else, but you can see that what they began with—some hope or consolation, like, “He had the same thing.” Or “His chemo wasn’t so bad” is in fact a story that ends with “and then he died.”

That is one version of the OMG People.  Another version is this: They say, “Oh my God, cancer, I’m so sorry and I’ll pray for you.” What does that mean? Will they be praying that his illness goes away, which kind of suggests that some other guy with no praying friends gets to keep theirs?

Or the “OMG you’ll have such a hard time as a caregiver,” or the “OMG he’s gonna be really, really sick, but you can do it”. They give you that great big attta girl right after they devastate you with their sympathy and alarm.

People will tell you all kinds of, “How it’s gonna be” stories and then you find out that their sister had breast cancer, or their boss had lung cancer or lymphoma or some other kind of cancer and some other kind of chemo. People outside of CancerLand almost never understand that chemo is not chemo is not chemo. 

But, my God, I have to be more kind. I was there once too. Before this began I thought that cancer was cancer, and that chemo was chemo. I had to learn so much so fast.

CancerLand is a school, and man, the tuition is a bitch.