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« Miscues | Main | Two Books in One »

July 09, 2009


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Kairol Rosenthal

Your email reminds me of the first time I went to visit my then soon to-be in-laws. The moment my husband jumped in the shower, my m-i-l ushered me to the dinning room table and cracked out a Louise Hay book. She showed me how I caused my cancer and the one-liner affirmation I could repeat to cure myself. This is where deep breathing and detachment come in handy.


Jeanne M Hannah

Good advice, Wendy. Jeanne

Ronnie Gordon

This is kind of different, but similar. I have a cousin who called the other night to check in on me and give me an update on her own cancer treatment. She said her cancer had spread but surgery removed it all. Now she is getting chemo and radiation just to be sure. She stressed that "My doctor is sure mine will not come back. I only wish you could say the same about yours." She was never known for tactfulness. I found this comment very upsetting, and I corrected her by saying everything is going well for me. She knows and I know that I am worried about relapse. I bet she probably is too and it made her feel better to assume I am on more shaky ground; it felt like she was saying, "I'm doing better than you are." I don't think she actually meant to make me feel bad but she did. I did take it with a "grain of salt" because I know the kind of person she is, although I think she is trying harder to connect.

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Dear Ronni,
I've been on both sides of similar situations -- receiving a stupid comment and, unfortunately, saying a stupid comment.

I don't know her, so can't possibly say what her true intentions or feelings were.

I can easily see how she might have been unconsciously trying to reassure herself, as you mentioned. I also can see her comment as being a well-intentioned expression of empathy. Your last sentence suggests this is a real possiblity. Wouldn't it be nice if you two could connect in a new, more healing, way?

If it was heartless...well, let it go. Easier said than done, but the more Healthy Survivors practice letting things go when it is good to let go, the easier it becomes.

With hope, Wendy

Lisa Cunningham

This is good advice.

A lot of times, older people (65 and older) can get kind of rigid in their thinking. I remember once my former mother-in-law kept insisting that Catholics believe in reincarnation. She didn't know where she had heard it, but I told her I was raised Catholic and that just wasn't true. Then I asked my dad, my sisters, my whole family and a couple of friends. They agreed with me. Finally, I learned that Hindus believe in reincarnation! I told her that, and at last she believed me.

Now my dad is 81 and I'm dealing with that type of rigid thinking again. It bothers my mom more than me, because she's there all day with him. It's a shame she doesn't drive, because she could get out a few hours each week.

Rynn Burke

My favorite is from colleagues - (I think other docs and nurses ought to know better)- "well, now you'll know what it feels like to be a patient". Argh, so many assumptions.... My current response is to smile and say, ?Do you think so? Since the whole interaction is clearly about them anyway, this gives them more opportunity to talk about themselves and allows me to remind myself that it has NOTHING to do with me...

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