Saturday, 10 May 2014

talking about a tough subject

This post has been forming in my head for weeks and weeks, and last week on the train home from Imres parents I finally wrote it all out in my journal. Heads up: it's not a happy subject. So here it goes.

The story really starts 18 months ago. In late 2012 we found out that Imres father has pancreatic cancer. And that it had spread out, meaning that there was no cure. All the doctors could do was treat him with chemotherapy that would hopefully slow the tumors down. He went through a couple of chemo's, of which only the first one worked. After the last one we were told that his liver was too weak to deal with another batch of poison being pumped into his body. There was nothing left to be done. Months, possibly even only weeks was all he had left. He's still with us now, but it won't be for long. Let's just say, I get goosebumps every time my phone rings.

We're not talking about just my father in law here. I was 16 when Imre and I got together, so for the last 8.5 years (more than a 3rd of my life) he has been a part of my life. It was like I had adopted another father when I started dating Imre. If I had to pick a person that gets the Oscar for best father figure in my life, he would get it.
And now he's almost gone. It is so much more unreal than I expected. I still cannot imagine him not being there anymore, even though I've had 18 months to get used to the idea. Knowing that every time you say goodbye might be the last time, or that he will not be there on our wedding day, or that he will never know his grandchildren... it hurts so much. Too much to think about it for longer that 2 seconds, really.

One thing I noticed over the last few weeks, is how different people's reactions are when you tell them (and by people I mean people that I know, but am not very close to. Like coworkers). And I was (and am) astonished by how many of those reactions are, although I'm sure very well-meant, totally not what you need at a time like this. I'll give you two examples.
The reaction I get the most is that people start to tell you about that time when their grandfather/mother/cousin/sister-of-their-neighbours'-friend died of cancer. And in itself that is absolutely not a bad thing. I am at the moment just not really interested in the details of their funeral. Or the way it caused issues in your family. Or the details of how horrible that persons last days were. At any other time when I'm not in the middle of losing someone close to my heart, I'll listen to your story, and I'll be able to respond in a way that you deserve. But please, not now. Don't ask about my sad story, if it's only to vent about your own.
The other reaction, and this one seriously pissed me off, is this scenario: a person came to me and asked how Imres dad is doing. I said it's all just shit and they asked "how old is he?" I told them "66", and they responded with "Oh, well, I knew a guy who was 21 when he died of cancer". And then walked away. True story.
Excuse me?! Are you telling me that just because it's not the most heartbreaking story in the world regarding cancer, I just have to suck it up? I don't get to be sad or angry at the situation?

Yes, I know that this is probably not what this person was trying to communicate. And I know that the people who start telling about their experiences mean well. I just don't have that much energy right now, emotionally. And the energy I do have, I don't really want to spend telling myself that others mean well. Also, I'm just surprised that all these people that apparently went through the same situation I'm in now, don't remember how tough it is to keep hearing that the worst is yet to come.

For the record: I get much more sweet reactions, that feel like a big warm hug and help me to get on with my day. I have family, friends and also coworkers who pick me up when I am down, and listen to me when I want to talk about it. For this I am so thankful.
This post was written as a way of getting this out of my system and not yelling at the next person who tells me the worst is yet to come. And maybe, just maybe inspire someone to think about what they're going to say before saying it.

1 comment:

  1. People really are the worst at responding to cancer news. I just don't get the one where they tell you about their friend who died of "the exact same cancer". I've had someone belittle my mom for choosing to go through surgery and radiation because her friend just ate better food and he's totally "cured" now.

    I don't have any words for you. Sending you and your family loads of love.