A woman holds up her hand to push away speech bubbles containing unwanted commentary from other people

Spare Me Your Sermons

I know you probably mean well. That your desire is to introduce me to a different way of looking at advanced breast cancer. But if you've never been through diagnosis, treatment, and outcome, you can spare me your sermons.

The universe as judge and jury

Why such a hardline attitude? Because you have no idea what I've been through, and still go through, and you come off sounding like a "splainer", or worse, a judgmental victim-blamer. When you say things like "You get what you put out there", or "The universe only returns what you give it," I want to scream. This universe of yours, this universe as judge and jury, is abhorrent to me.

Whether it's true or not isn't the issue, it's that you wield your pop philosophy like a weapon. I'd rather you exercise some restraint in your advice, mixed with a little kindness and compassion. You're not my priest, pastor, or rabbi, so please don't try to act like you are.

My wife did nothing to deserve the metastatic breast cancer that took her life, except be born into a family in which breast cancer runs genetically. I sent nothing into the universe that demanded what I went through with her, and the hell of widowhood in a world without her.

There's a reason for everything

No there isn't. Sometimes, bad things happen with no rhyme or reason. If you tell me there's a reason for everything, I'm going to disagree with you. Especially if you can't tell me what those reasons are.

Your empty philosophizing may make you feel better, but it does nothing for cancer patients and their caregivers. Please keep it to yourself.

Unsolicited advice

I know what I say sounds harsh, but so many well-meaning people make the mistake of sermonizing when all they really need to say is, "What can I do to help?" Sometimes, a listening ear, or a hug, is all we need.

No one wants to hear what cancer takes from a patient and their family, and you'd be surprised to know how many people turn away when the subject comes up. If all you can do is offer unsolicited advice, then please feel free to stay away.

An act of courage and faith

Recently, a Facebook friend, someone I've never met or even shared a conversation with, told me that my attitude of resignation is what's brought a wave of calamities into my life lately. He then proceeded to tell me all about the secret of manifestation. I told him I'd heard it all before. That submitting to my situation is an act of courage and faith, not one of giving up.

I explained to him that if we're drowning in a river, fighting the current isn't going to help. Going belly up and floating is the only hope we have of surviving. Well, why not fight fire with fire? Do you have new-age metaphors? I can lay them on you as well.

Just be there

It's not that I don't believe in any of this stuff, because I do. But as someone who has been the sole caregiver of three family members with cancer, I've had to modify my beliefs to fit my experience.

The point is, it helps neither the patient nor the caregiver when people who've never walked in our shoes start throwing these philosophies at us. Spare me your sermons and just be there. I know it doesn't stroke your ego, but it goes a long way in showing that you care.

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