Have questions about life after cancer? Want to talk with other survivors about how they deal with life after cancer? Contact the LIVESTRONG Foundation for support and tips. Visit www.livestrong.org/wecanhelp or call 1-855-220-7777.
“Why do you limp?”
“Where did that scar come from?”
“Where’ve you been the past couple months?”
As you re-enter the real world after having cancer you’re faced with these benign questions that often lead to heavy and intense conversations that you might not want to have.
So how do I, as a seven-time cancer survivor, deal with these situations? I take the bull by the horns and right off the bat answer all the questions that they might possibly have and diffuse all possible interest. People are inherently curious, but once they find out what is actually going on with you, they’ll probably back off about it. You want to make sure to conclude everything with something positive. Cancer is an overwhelmingly negative experience. But when you’re having a conversation at the water cooler, you probably don’t want to get into all of those things.
“Hey, Woody, I noticed you limping, how come?”
“Well you see, two years ago I had my left leg amputated because of bone cancer. It initially started with a lingering pain in my knee that progressively got worse. I’m currently in remission now and my life is back to normal. It was kind of a wild experience going through all of it, but luckily I survived and now I’m back living my life the way I want.”
At this point most people are pretty blown away by your honesty. If I’ve found one thing it’s that people really don’t want to offend you, so at this point they would rather say nothing that risk saying something inappropriate. So they’ll most likely offer you bland encouragement and support.
“Oh, wow. Well congratulations, if you ever need anything let me know.”
To which you kindly respond, “Thanks so much, take care!”
Boom Shakalaka! You just diffused that situation like a boss. Congratulations.
Now back to work!