My girl friend of 17 years was diagnosed wtih bowel cancer in November 2009. In February this year secondary cancer was discovered in her liver and in May she lost the fight due to liver failure. Its less than 2 months and no doubt peole are trying to look out for but but just about eveyr conversation starts with "how are you doing? It seems the dumbest question in the world and how do you give people an answer? Do they really want to know that most nights I cry myself to sleep? How can you explain to someone the feelings you have when you wake up one morning and know the person you love has gone into liver failure and is about to lose her battle with cancer? I am haunted every day by the experience of having to dress and take her to the emergency department at the local hospital knowing in my own heart this is goodbye. By this stage of her illness she is unable to communicate with me and I just hope beyond hope she understands how much I don't want to lose her. At the moment it feels like I am living a nightmare everyday and I hope no one has to go through what I have been through or going through everyday. When people ask me "how are you doing?" the last thing I want to do is share my nightmare with them and really I just can not image they would have any understanding of the last 7 months of caring and sadly losing the one I love.
11 Comments
Deceased
Dear Ailing "How are you doing" is generally the dumbest question out. It is a social ritual question with a ritual answer "Fine thanks, what abut yourself?" or something similar. They certainly do not want to know how you are really doing, how you are feeling or to share your nightmare. They wouldn't know what to do if you gave them a non-ritual answer. As someone with advanced cancer who gets tested every three months and knows that it is not if, but when I will be back on therapy, I have developed a ritual answer - "I'm still warm and vertical". Some look embarrassed, some quickly shuffle away, some have a nervous laugh, my friends hug me and say "well that's wonderful". However "how are you doing doesn't have to be meaningless. A few years back when I was going through a tough time a good friend whenever we met would grab both my hands in his, look me in the eye and ask "How are YOU doing" - it gave me permission to tell him just how things were and if I didn't want to do that I still knew he was concerned. So hang in their, remember that it is just a social ritual they are going through with no meaning at all, but in amongst all those people there will be some who really care, they do want to know and they will tell you that in the way they ask the question. Cheers Sailor A collision at sea can ruin your entire day. Attrib Thucydides, 5th Century BC
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Frequent Contributor
Hi aling This virtual rehab resort is a good place to say how it really is. Your comments are interesting to me as I have had the same thing happen and also felt the subliminal pressure to 'be good, even if you're not'. I have found that the more I say how it really is, in writing, the better I am able to brush off careless comments or inaccuracies. I am more accepting of others views about me, whatever they are. The trick for me has been to sit down and dig into the feelings and experiences and write them down. The more comfortable I am doing that the easier it is to live with some contentment. I am sure you will do well, aling. You've made a good start. H
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Not applicable
Firstly sorry for your loss, YES people do say the dumbest things but in reality they just dont know what the hell to say. I have had 4 brain tumour ops in 18 months and many say ( Wow your looking good ) Considering Im generally bombed out on meds and have a huge migrane or the good one is ( So your ok now)If they only knew!!!Or a real beauty for me was a lady said I can do hands on healing and pull that tumour from your brain well that one got to me and I could have ripped her head OFF.
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Contributor
Yes I guess it depends on how they ask the question and some awkwardness as well. Sometimes it can be of concern when the person wants to really know how you are but not sure how one wishes to react. This woman at my busstop has twigged I'm undergoing cancer treatment so asked in a concerned manner and then when I wasn't forth coming, as I wasn't expecting the question, chatted about other things. I guess it also comes down to the person asking ie someone close you feel you can talk to or say as well as can be expected or it's hard but I'd prefer to chat about other things like what you've been up to as I'm not up to talking about it. My advice is to be brief but honest and communicate how you do want their support saying if you'd like to or not like to talk about it. But yes it is hard.
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Super Contributor
Hi It is a dumb question as such and yet ............... I find myself on both ends of the spectrum with this one. I visit with a friend that is going through treatment and I always ask her how she is, because i genuinely want to know. 🙂 On the other end of the scale i have been in a very similar place to you and yes i think it is a dumb question. Probblem is what does one replace that one with? As deejay has said with some people you can share and with others you gloss and it doesnt make it any easier. @ warriorwoman ... crickeys re the woman wanting to rip the tumour outt of your head!!! How did you restrain yourself? Not sure i could of!
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Regular Contributor
As usual, Sailor has the accurate and succinct answer. I must admit that I still respond with the pat answer of "just fine". Sometimes I relate the problems with my neuropathy but I qualify it "but at least I'm here to feel it".Often it depends who is asking. to those I know I can trust, i answer with "physically I'm great but I still struggle emotionally". All depends who it is. In your case,aling, it is the dumbest of questions and don't you just wish they would give you a hug instead? My thoughts go out to you and I hope that there are genuine firends who can help you through this. samex
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Not applicable
Hi Ailing, this whole thing just sucks, really. There's nothing that anyone can or will ever say that will take away this nightmare we're living. There is a crater in our life the size of the universe, and everyone just tip toes around it as they make their useless commentary. My favourite line so far is "Honey, I know how you must feel without Andy, my husband goes away for work all the time" ...What the fuck? Ailing, big hug to you...without any comments.
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Super Contributor
Hey Sallyz Just read your post and i am very omg about what that woman has said to you. I don't know how any can equate working away to what you are going through. I know people desperately try to understand and get it wrong 'but' that one takes the cake! Sometimes I get asked where my accent is from and if i am in a resilient mood I often joke and say "russia today but tomorrow i might decide to be from holland" and at other times i just tell them it because of my tumour that i have an accent. Funny how others can be so blase about our changes and yet they are not changes we choose! Julie
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Contributor
hey i new to all of this... my boyfriend recently has been diagnosed with bowel cancer stage four... spread to the liver and lungs. People ask me the same question.. how r u? i feel like screaming at then how do u think? its hard seeing my friends all move on and buy houses and talk of marriage... my boyfriend is only 22 and im 23 this is just so hard.. i think everyday where will i be? he is scared of the future and so am i. I dont know how to be myself anymore and it sucks.
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Even when you tell people that you are trying to be brave and carry on they still don't know what to say. My guess is that nobody understands unless they have lived through losing your love to such a deadly, gruesome disease that takes the life out of the person you love even before they have breathed their final breath. I know what you are going through, not many others do. I cry myself to sleep most nights with out photo next to my bed. I wake up in the morning and remind myself to breath and start my day. Been 5 1/2 weeks for me since my partner died and don't know how long it will be till I can come to terms with the loss...
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