What does breast cancer look like? What does cancer in general look like? Why do I ask? Because a couple of days ago I heard another person say something on national tv that bothered me a bit………..as someone who went through cancer and watched many of my family members go through cancer. This is not the first time I heard it, I actually hear it often, but perhaps people need to hear my side of cancer so maybe they stop saying it……or maybe just think before they do.
The lady on tv said that her disease (which was not cancer) was one that people can’t tell by the outside. She said she looks healthy but inside she is slowly suffering, but it’s not obvious, not like people with cancer. Really? Not like people with cancer? What do we look like?
I watched my dad find out he had cancer, I can tell you first hand, he sure didn’t look like it. My mom, you could not tell by looking at her she had cancer. My brother, you couldn’t tell he had cancer either. My aunt, you could never tell she had breast cancer for a minute! When I found out I had breast cancer, I had NO IDEA, I was shocked, so I wonder, why do people think that cancer “looks” like something.
I can appreciate some people may see a lady going through chemotherapy and she has lost her hair. Maybe they think that’s what cancer looks like? I go to MD Anderson Cancer Center a lot and I see hundreds of women there and men. I would say that you would never be able to tell that about 90% of them had cancer if you saw them on the street. They look like you and me………
When people say, “oh, you don’t look like you had breast cancer” there are times I’m not sure how to take that. Part of me thinks, why, because I have hair? Or why, because I have breasts? The other part of me knows that all credit goes to my Lord Jesus Christ for keeping me strong and guiding me through it all. I know people say it with the best intentions, but it’s like when they say that it makes me think they don’t quite understand what it is to find out you have cancer and have to deal with it. Makes me wonder, why do people say it? Why do people think breast cancer or any cancer looks like something.
There are probably people right now that have cancer and don’t even know it. It’s not something that makes your skin turn green or puts spots on your body. It’s a silent killer like so many other diseases out there. I have a cousin who has Multiple Sclerosis and you would never know by looking at her either. To me, it’s such a judgmental comment to say “they don’t look sick” or “they don’t look like they have cancer” because you can’t ever judge a book by its cover.
There are people that look sick and tired and lots of those people are overtired parents…….I know I was one of them…..and I wasn’t sick at that time, I was just sleep deprived. So, how do you look at someone and know if they are just tired, or sick or if they do have a disease? YOU DON’T.
All we can do is just be kind to one another. Don’t judge each other by how we look. If you do know someone who is going through anything, cancer, MS, depression, whatever it may be, just listen and support them. Feel free to tell them, “hey you look great”, but you don’t have to say “hey you don’t even look like you’re depressed!” or “you don’t even look like you have cancer”. Because even though you may have the best of intentions with your comments, the person you are saying it to is living it and feeling it and does feel so you saying they “don’t” even though it’s innocent is taking away something that have to deal with everyday and almost minimizes it.
I have learned over the past 11 months to take everything with a grain of salt and I have learned that people really do have the best intentions. However, if I don’t share how I feel, how will they know. This is just my opinion and others may have different ones and that’s okay, it’s alright to be different. I find this is my lesson in grace and “letting the little things go” because in the light of eternity, it doesn’t really matter.
So, I disagree with the lady on tv, I don’t think you can tell most people have cancer by “looking” at them. Which is why you should be kind to each person you come across, because you never know what they are going through and your smile or your kind word can make or break their day. Have a wonderful day!