“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” ~ Ephesians 4:32
“Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” Sound familiar? Easy to say, but is it true? OUCH the last time I checked words can hurt, I have wounds to prove it. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout this season of breast cancer is to forgive. I have come to accept that well-meaning people can say really hurtful things.
Yesterday was the strangest day ever. I just went out to a tile store to buy some props and then a quick stop into the grocery store for noodles. What should have been a simple day of running errands turned into a jolting ride on an emotional rollercoaster that I could hardly wait to get off of. I couldn’t get home fast enough after having the most hurtful conversations with strangers who happened to notice my port. Let me explain, I have a port-a-cath that was surgically placed into my chest just beneath my collar bone back in January 2014. It is about the size of a quarter and sticks out like a giant mosquito bite because my chest is boney. It’s not supposed to hurt, but mine does – it’s an every day reminder that everything is not quite “normal”. Through my port I received all of the chemo as opposed to having an IV and having to hunt for a vein in my arms. The nurse essensitally puts the needle straight into the port which is directly connected to a vein, YUCK – I know, it’s not pretty. And even though chemotherapy is done, I still have to receive intravenous antibody treatment until March of 2015. I always have it covered with a bandage, but it’s noticeable – what am I going to do?
My head is still spinning and I’m trying to figure out why? Why do family, friends, and strangers say the craziest things to me? I know they are not mean spirited people, they are not trying to hurt me … but if that is true, then why do I end up in bed, curled up in ball, crying my eyes out?
Can I share with you the Top 3 Things you should NEVER say to a breast cancer patient?
- “Don’t worry you’re not going to die” … YES, people actually say this to me! In my head I’m thinking, “Oh thank you very much, I feel much better now that you think I’m not going to die,” not to mention the fact that I wasn’t actually thinking about dying, until you mentioned it …
- Please don’t tell me about your best friend, cousin, mother, or sister that died from breast cancer. Death is a scary reality for cancer patients, I’m not in denial, it’s just that … I am planning to live .
- This is my least favorite comment, “At least you get new boobs.” I don’t want “new boobs”! If you only knew the pain and agony that I’ve been through, you would never say this to me or any other breast cancer patient. Imagine having your nose amputated and then having reconstruction surgery, how would you feel if somebody said, “At least you get to have a new nose”? I don’t know any breast cancer patient that is excited about getting surgery for their “new boobs”.
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” ~1Peter 1
God has given me a lot of opportunites lately to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. If you are reading this and know that you are one of the people who have said something like this, don’t worry, I’m not upset. What I’ve learned the most from these interactions is that words don’t have the ability to hurt me, unless I let them. It’s not what people say, but instead it’s my own lingering feelings of fear and insecurity that their words stir up inside of me. That is the part I’m responsible for and I’m counting it as a blessing (it’s not easy, I’m working on it everyday). It’s just one more way God is drawing me in closer as he continues to refine my character and strengthen my faith.