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Got Cancer? Two Reasons You Have My Deep Sympathy

Written by Wellness Club on November 12, 2008 – 2:16 pm -

Got Cancer? Two Reasons You Have My Deep Sympathy

By Dr. Dana Myatt

I feel sorry for my cancer patients and not just because of the diagnosis. In terms of "outcomes," even advanced cancers are usually controllable when treated correctly. I’ve had over 20 years of medical practice and many patients still alive and well 10+ years after a "two months to live" diagnosis to vouch for this.

No, it’s not the diagnosis itself that makes me feel bad for cancer patients. It’s what happens to friends, family and even total strangers when they hear someone has "the ‘C’ word." Apparently totally sane people get absolutely stupid and make the cancer patient bear the brunt of their foolishness.

Here are two big reasons my heart goes out to cancer patients:

1.) "Everybody is an Expert." I don’t know why this applies to cancer and not other equally serious diseases, but it seems that Aunt Martha, the dog-groomer next door, your car mechanic, the clerk at the health food store and EVERY SECOND PERSON you bump into is a "cancer expert" when they hear of your diagnosis.

People with not one single day of medical training magically become authorities when they hear you have cancer. They know which chemotherapy you should have (or that you should absolutely avoid any conventional treatment altogether), what diet you should be on (an "alkalinizing" diet is a popular recommendation among people who know absolutely nothing of what they’re talking about), juice fasting, blah, blah, blah.

I don’t know what to tell you if you have cancer and are on the receiving end such blatant stupidity. Maybe it’s better not to announce your diagnosis to the entire world, only close friends and family? (Even then, you’ll still encounter a lot of "experts"). You can tell them you’re working with a fine team of REAL medical experts, but that usually doesn’t slow them down one iota.

If it were me, I think I’d say something like, "I appreciate your concern, but I make my treatment decisions with a top-notch team of medical experts including a naturopathic physician who specializes in cancer treatment (that would be ME), and I really don’t feel I need any additional input at this time. Can we talk about something else?"

Just a thought.

2.) The "I had an uncle who…." cancer stories. (I got this just yesterday from a patient, and it’s worth passing on).

When the hoi polloi hear you’ve got cancer, they often jump in with a story about a friend or family member who suffered and died from the disease.

HELLO? What the He#! are they thinking?

You don’t need stories of people who didn’t make it — you need stories about all the ones who DID make it. (I’ve got lots of these, by the way. My favorites are the "advanced cancer" patients who buck the odds for years or decades…).

But success stories are usually not what you’re going to get. It’s truly mind-boggling how stupid even smart people can get when confronted with an acquaintance (or total stranger!) who has cancer.

What would I do? Probably look at them like they just got off a spaceship from Mars and say something like, "Gee, thanks for sharing a ‘cancer death story,’ but I’d prefer to hear a cancer success story. In fact, that’s the only kind of cancer story my naturopathic cancer doctor advises me to listen to. Do you have one of those?"

Pause for a moment (believe, me, this will be a pregnant pause), and wait for their reply.

Oh, and don’t feel bad if they don’t have a "success story." When people are treated with conventional therapy alone, the treatment usually kills them LONG before the disease would have, and that’s the only story most people are familiar with.

I’m sorry you’ll be dealing with human stupidity along with your diagnosis, but it’s a fact of life. Like everything else in life, you’ll have to deal with it. So let’s do this:

Write and tell me what YOU would say in each of the above scenarios. We’ll post the possible retorts in an upcoming edition of HealthBeat.

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