Posted by: 2in10 | 10/11/2011

i’m back

Hello, dear friends, thank you for your patience while I took some time off.

I was struck by Amy Dickinson’s response in her “Ask Amy” advice column in the October 10, 2011 Boston Herald. The writer described a fellow member of a sports team who has battled breast cancer for the five years they both have been on the team. The writer expressed frustration with the woman’s constant talk about cancer. 

Amy replied to “Frustrated Friend:” “Cancer redirects the course of a person’s life because among other physically painful aspects of the disease, cancer can recur — and so the joy and relief of surviving the disease is accompanied by anger and anxiety that it will come back.”

Amy then says she refered the question to someone she knows who has Stage IV breast cancer and has had ongoing treatment. This woman suggested:

“Tell her that her friends love and care about her and that you all cheer her recovery. Ask her if she feels you are all doing enough to be supportive.

And you should ask her if she is able to be generous to other members of the group, who have joys and concerns of their own that they want to discuss.

Other people’s topics may seem trivial to this cancer survivor, but her dominance diminishes everyone else and in this way the cancer wins.”

I like this answer very much. I hope that during my first five years post-treatment I didn’t dominate every interaction. I apologize to those who had to listen if I did.

I applaud Amy for saying “the cancer wins.” I know Amy means cancer in general, but too often and most often writers give ownership to cancer, by saying her cancer or his cancer. Peggy Huddleston taught me to be religious about this, and I believe this awareness is important. You can send your questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com.

Take care,

Carolyn

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