FAQ for the Clueless

There are plenty of viral videos (and TV shows) about “sh*t people say.”  This is a compilation from a group of young women with metastatic breast cancer.  And, sadly, yes, each thing has been said.  I like to think of it as FAQ for the Clueless


1. Clueless:“hey well at least now you have hair.”  Or when I was bald it was “at least you have a good head for being bald”.

Young woman: “Uh thanks? Is there a bad bald head? Pretty sure anyone bald for reasons not of their choosing is a bad bald. Just saying.”


2. Clueless: “What kind of cancer do you have?”

Young woman: “My answer is always now: The Bad Kind.” Then, I get a blank stare. Never fails, a blank stare. I want to then say: Why are you asking, are you an expert on different types of cancer?


3. Clueless: ”My (fill in the blank with aunt, mother, neighbor etc…) had cancer. They died.”

Young woman: “I’m like, that’s a great story, thank you for sharing that with me. That’s awesome, you’re so sweet, what on earth possessed you to tell me that?!”


4. Clueless: “Stage IV? How many stages are there?”

Young woman: “Four.  Stage V is death.”

Clueless: “Oh, well, you don’t LOOK like you have cancer.”

Young Woman: “It’s all on the inside, this is a house of cards.”


5.Clueless: “At least you have hair!”

Young woman: “I didn’t used to and really, it gets a lot worse than that, my friend.”


6. Clueless: “You’re so brave/strong/inspiring.  I couldn’t do what you are doing.” said of course with extra large, pity eyes

Young woman: “Hmmmm and what are my options exactly? Common sense should  not be mistaken for bravery.”


7. Clueless: “I thought cancer was supposed to make you lose weight.”

Young woman: “Thanks for pointing out that I have gained 50 pounds since chemo started.”


8. Clueless: “You never know when it’s your time, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow.”

Young woman: “Yes but is that bus hurtling towards you as you’re glued to the road… I think not.”  Or “Really?  Wanna trade odds?”


9. Clueless: “Thank God it isn’t worse!”

Young woman: “Um, worse than terminal?”


10.  Clueless: “Are you cured yet? “

Young woman: “There is NO cure for breast cancer.  Our biggest hope is that Stage IV breast cancer can be treated as a chronic (not terminal) disease.”


11.  Clueless: “but you look so good and normal”

Young woman: “Meaning i don’t look dead, because God knows i look tired, irritable and not so happy. You should see me without clothes on…you could play connect-the-scars all over my body. Port incision by my collar bone, bilateral 9″ scars, oopherectomy scars, scar from chemo leaking through my vein on my left arm (pre-port) and radiation burn on the back of my thigh. Yes, totally normal looking.”


12.  Clueless: “But you never know. don’t give up…”

Young woman: “Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t know and I am not “giving up” but last time I checked I still wasn’t in charge of the universe, cause if I was, there’d be a whole lot more of us cancer free just by drinking our green tea.”


13.  Clueless: “When will you finish treatment?”

Young woman: “Never” or “When I run out of options, then it’s time for hospice.” or I usually say, uh “when I die”. This usually shuts them up.


14.  Clueless: “I’m so glad you are done with that part of your life.”

Young woman: “Just because I currently have hair? I still go to get my infusions every three weeks and this part of my life will never be “done.””


15.  Clueless: “Well I’m glad they caught it early and they didn’t have to remove your breasts.”

Young woman: “Uh… who cares about the breasts….they didn’t remove them because the cancer had already spread EVERY living place in my body, it was NOT caught early.”


16.  Clueless: “If you had more faith, you would be healed.”

Young woman: “I find this HIGHLY insulting, considering I do have enough faith. Faith enough to know that this isn’t something God is doing TO me. Just my body failing.”

Living legendary as a mom with Stage IV breast cancer. Author of Learning to Live Legendary and What You Might Not Know: My Life as a Stage IV Cancer Patient.

Leave a Reply


captcha *