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Community Shares: The Most Asked Question about Metastatic Breast Cancer

One of the hardest parts of living with cancer is the questions. Too often, people prod, asking insensitive questions that they have not earned a right to the answers.

To hear more about the questions you face daily, we reached out to AdvancedBreastCancer.net. We asked: “What do you think is the most-asked-about question about metastatic breast cancer?”

Nearly 60 of you answered. Here is what you said.

Metastatic breast cancer treatment

The number one answer that people ask is about treatments and how soon you are done. Many of you shared that you are tired of explaining that you will be on treatments as long as you live, most likely. The bad news is that it does get old explaining this diagnosis to people. As a reminder: You do not have to answer anyone’s question if you do not want to! The good news if you decide to answer is that you are helping educate the public so that you are likely sparing other women down the line from answering the same question.

  • “When will you be done with treatments? And I tell them that I will never be done and will probably die of old age.”
  • “How long will you be on treatment?”
  • “Are you through with chemo yet? I answer that I will always be in treatment.”
  • “How long do you have to live?”

Sadly, tact is not something that humans are born with. Yes, most people are curious about what you are going through, but they may just be reacting—rather than thinking about how their question might sound. If the question makes you feel uncomfortable, you can try saying, “Ouch, that question hurts” to let them know how you felt when they ask something like that.

Awareness of metastatic breast cancer

  • "Omg, does that mean you are dying? How long do I still have with you?"
  • “How long do you have to live?”
  • “How long is your lifespan?”
  • “Is metastatic the same as stage 4?”
  • “So you are OK now?”

A few of you have shared that sometimes you are asked what metastatic breast cancer is. This makes sense. When most people talk about breast cancer, they are talking about stages 1 – 3. It is common for people to not know what stage 4 is.

The "c" word

In general, as you know, the ‘C’ word makes people uncomfortable. Not everyone has the emotional maturity or bandwidth to discuss what is going on. This might be a blessing: You may not want to share your personal details with everyone who asks. When someone jumps right to a steering question, such as, “You are OK, right?” it is because they are not comfortable hearing that you are in pain. You could ask them a question back, such as: “Do you want to know the truth?” Or, “Can I answer freely?” Or, simply make a statement that is true for you, which might be: “It sounds like you only want to hear what is going on with me if it is good news; is that true?” This puts the ball in their court and helps them see that their question is not all that helpful.

We want to say thank you to everyone who shared. We appreciate your candidness.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AdvancedBreastCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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