WISDOM
You Don’t Look Sick
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09/20/2015

Deanna Thompson has stage IV breast cancer and has written a book about her journey.  The book’s title is Hoping for More.

Deanna’s insights are for everyone who has ever struggled with serious illness or loved someone who has, which means that this book is ultimately for everyone.

“You don’t look sick,” was a common refrain when others saw me for the first time since learning I had cancer.

On good days, I was pleased at this comment.  That I look healthier than what one expects to see in a stage IV cancer patient came as welcome news

On bad days, the “You don’t look sick”comment stung. It seems that because I did not have the requisite indicators of breast cancer—a bald head, a missing breast—my situation wasn’t as bad as they had thought. What I wanted to say, “You’ve no idea the hell I’ve been through.  Usually I responded, “But I am very, very sick.” And I would wait in silence for a response.

Please do not say, “You don’t look sick.”

Please do not say, “You don’t look sick.”

Some possible words that you might say to a person with cancer on a good or on a bad days are:

“How you are doing today?”
“I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for you.”
“I know that you are hurting, and I really care about that.  If you want to  talk about it, I’ll listen”
“You have been in my thoughts.”
“I’m so sorry about your struggle.”
“Tell me about . . . .”
“What do you feel like talking about today?”
“What worries you the most?

I greatly value the following advice:  “Be real.  Admit your honest feelings to me.  If the news stunned you, say so. If you don’t know what to say, say just that.  If you suddenly feel tears coming, cry.  If you are overwhelmed with pity and compassion, admit it.  When you allow your true feelings to show, you give me the permission to also ‘let go’ and express my honest feelings.”  Chuck Swindoll

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