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« No News is No News | Main | Wasting and Losing Time »

September 04, 2009


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Kairol Rosenthal

My mom is visiting me for Labor Day weekend. I just asked her what she thought when people heard about my cancer and said to her "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Her reply: "I'd rather be weak." I love this woman! And I have to agree.


Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Please give your Mom a hug from me. With hope from Wendy

Lori Hope

As a cancer survivor, who, as a teen, endured her parent's horrid and traumatic divorce and her mother's attempted suicide, and later studied philosophy in college, I love this post, and especially the last quotation you chose.

Another powerful quotation: "A man can get used to anything, but do not ask us how." That's by Viktor E. Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning", who chronicled his experiences as a concentration camp inmate and described how he found a reason to live.

And I love Kairol's comment. Like, "She's in a better place," you want to say, "Thank you very much, but a better place would be next to me."

p.s. You know Kairol's going to be on Fresh Air w/Terry Gross this Tues., right?

Steve Huddle

Speaking with only 4 months experience with stage 3 brain a current cancer patient, and future cancer survivor, I offer my view, without being disagreeable with anyone else.

The first person outside the immediate family that I told of my cancer was a business contact that had moved away, and he called me out of the blue. I felt I could kind of try out the whole opening up and telling what was going on thing, with someone many states away, and on the telephone. After explaining the cancer situation and then saying that I was scared, his response was "you should be".

In spite of this, we kept talking, and he went on to express some sincere, caring words to me, for which I am thankful.

I have curious people talk to me, offer comments and ask questions about my cancer. I have family and friends that obviously do the same thing. These are people that care about me in at least some small degree, or love me in a lot cases, or they wouldn't be engaging me in this type of conversation.

As long as the comments are well intentioned and out of concern and love, I would prefer conversation with friends and family, business contacts and even strangers, than to be alone with my thoughts.

Since I stayed in the conversation with him, it turns out my friend didn't say what he said to be mean or hurtful. I discovered that he is human, and that he is not professionally trained in offering words of encouragement to cancer patients! And neither am I, or any of the other people with which I gladly open up and discuss things.

If you know me, or you don't, please talk to me about my cancer. Please don't be afraid to talk to me because you don't know what to say. Let's figure it out together!

Wendy S. Harpham, MD

Dear Steve,
Thanks so much for sharing your perspective and reinforcing some central ideas about Healthy Survivors: They
1) open the door for someone to express care by sharing their news.
2) trust that no comments are intended to cause hurt or harm, even comments that are a bit off-the-mark.
3) forgive others' off-the-mark comments, recognizing that finding the right words can be difficult for someone who is not experienced or trained to say helpful things.

Healthy Survivorship is not a lonely journey, because Healthy Survivors ask for and accept guidance, support, companionship and love.

With hope, Wendy

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