A few weeks ago, my mom was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. I haven't had the time to process what that means and how this will affect me in the long run. All I can think of now is how to get by every day.
After the initial shock of hearing, "Mom has cancer!" my brothers and I had to tell extended family and close friends. There are days when I find comfort in knowing that other people share our pain. Yet, there are times when I think telling people was the wrong choice. There are things I don't want to hear right now. There are times when I don't want to see people. There are days when I can't deal with the questions.
To pass time while visiting mom, I've put together my own list of annoying things people have said and done in this difficult time.
1. When can we visit? Can we go today at a time that's convenient for us?
There are some people or families who do want visitors every day. Others, families like mine, just want privacy. It would be really nice if people asked (not told) us if they could visit and didn't just show up at home or in the hospital.
Please, if you're allowed to visit, do so at our convenience. Just because you're free at 8pm doesn't mean that that's a good time for us.
Also, please don't bother to visit my mom or the rest of us if you want comfort. Let us be a bit selfish. We need the comfort. Don't come expecting us to dry your tears and to tell you that our mom will be okay.
2. Have you considered so and so treatment? I'm selling so and so supplement that cures cancer! I'll drop by to give my sales talk.
Yes, we have researched all the possible treatments out there and we have decided on one already. Thank you for your suggestions, but please respect our decision.
Oh, you're into supplements. Please know that there really isn't any cure for cancer right now. Medicine can't cure it. Supplements can't cure it. And no, you cannot do your sales talk. Do you want to make money off us or something?
3. You know, my so and so had the exact same cancer as your mom.
I know you're just trying to make connections and try to understand cancer as best as you can. Please stop with the stories. Please don't even tell the story if it has a sad ending. It doesn't do us any good and we all know where this is heading anyway. We don't need to hear it again.
4. What can we do? Call if you need help.
The problem with this statement is that we have to think of something that you can do for us. It's not like I can ask you to pay the bills, clean the house, take care of my cat or do our laundry. I also won't have the time or energy to call you for help.
Instead, say something specific like, "I would love to cook for the family. I'll be bring lasagna over on Friday for dinner. Will this be alright?" This kind of help is the best kind there is.
5. Can I tell so and so about the cancer?
There is a reason why you know. You know because you are an important member of the family or you are a close friend. Why do you want to tell someone else? Is it so that you have someone to cry with or will that person provide much needed support to my mom and the family?
See, if someone tells you they have cancer, they might not appreciate it if you go around telling others.
6. I visited. I took pictures. They're up on social media.
What. Just what. What?! Unless the person allowed you to post pictures of themself looking sick and fragile, then please go ahead and post the pictures. But if the person doesn't know you're posting them, then just don't post the pictures.
7. Questions. Questions. And more questions.
When people keep asking questions over and over again, I get really tired of answering and just shut up.
Many some people like answering the questions, but I don't. Please know that whatever info I have about my mom I dish out on my own discretion and I expect that you don't pester me with questions. We're also still trying to figure things out.
8. I'm praying for your mom. (And then begins to quote some Bible verse.)
While I do appreciate the prayers and Bible verses, there are days I want to scream, "Your prayers and your Bible verses are not a cure for this!"
9. We're here for you.
I hope you know that you might need to be 'here for me' for days, weeks, months or even years. If you're not up to that, don't give me that false promise. I don't know when I'll be okay. I also don't know how long this situation will last.
This is all I can think of for now. I might add more. Let's see.